‘Understanding colour’: A brand-building professional’s insight into using colour well
Over at our London office, we’re constantly coming up with inventive and exciting ways to create branding solutions for some of the globe’s largest brands. We’ve worked with some truly iconic companies, the logos of whom very few among us would fail to recognise.
Obviously, a large part of the promotional professional’s job comes in the proper and effective matching up of these logos with appropriate merchandising solutions.
The harder parts of being in the branded merchandising industry come in the creative problem solving inherent in completing a client’s brief. Finding a product that fits the company’s ethos, accomplishes the aims of its new brand-building campaign, and boosts engagement, can prove to be a head-scratcher.
The next stage is often easier. We seldom have problems embossing the logo of these world-famous brands on to the products we’ve carefully chosen.
Recently, however, we were given the opportunity to work with a hugely recognisable internet services brand and, in our attempts to find the exact shade of purple that they’d used in their logo, we found ourselves forced to bring out the most comprehensive of our colour palettes in order to get the right shade.
We found it eventually, after a great deal of work. But, whenever situations like this arise, it’s worth the time and effort. We know a thing or two about branding and believe us when we say colour is vitally important.
Companies spend a lot of time choosing the colours used on their logos, and with good reason.
The colour of a company’s logo is often the first thing a potential customer will interact with. And, as we all know, first impressions count. The colours used in some of the most recognisable logos the world has ever seen all have a history and careful thought behind them.
The iconic golden arches of McDonalds, for example, were designed to entice in weary travellers. The yellow against a red backdrop was chosen because yellow has long been associated with happiness and red with stimulation.
Google chose primary colours for its logo because they are supposed to represent a childhood sense of simplicity. And they threw in a green ‘L’ because they also wanted to come across as a little off-beat.
So, you can see, the colours themselves impart some sense of these big brands’ identity. They share a little bit of information whilst also eliciting a certain response from us, the potential customers.
How to choose the right colours for your brand?
If you’re a company executive or the owner of your own business, you’ll have undoubtedly thought about this question a fair amount. If you’re still considering which colours to go for before you design your logo, then consider these factors.
Building your business’ identity
Firstly, you must decide which elements of your company’s ‘personality’ you want to make visible. Some companies – Google and Apple, for example – want to promote an impression of simplicity. In Google’s case, they chose fun colours from our childhoods; an illustration of the search engine’s ease of use. In Apple’s, they use either black, white or silver for their logo. Three colours that are associated with classical, elegant simplicity.
If your company provides a service that makes people’s lives easier, makes them more exciting, or more comfortable, your logo and its colours should represent that.
Once you’ve decided what you want your logo to say about your firm, you want to choose colours that translate that message to those viewing your brand. That means understanding what associations we have long attached to certain colours.
(Before we continue, consider that colour associations are a result of a variety of socio-cultural historical precedents. The links we’ll discuss below, between colour and how it makes us feel, are not uniform across the worlds. So, if you’re starting a business in other parts of the world, pay attention to regional variations.)
Green is the colour of nature and natural things. It has classically been associated with envy, as well, but can also make us feel refreshed or impart the idea of healthiness.
Yellow, as considered by the designers behind the McDonalds’ logo, is attached to happiness, optimism and warmth. It can also be considered alongside creativity.
Purple is the colour worn by and associated with royalty and has been as far back as ancient Greece. Purple logos are often designed to bring about a sense of prestige to a brand.
Pink has long been associated with femininity although that has seen some signs of changing and becoming less distinct of an attachment. It is alluring and bold, whilst also delicate and soothing. The shade of pink can shape a drastically different association. Rose pink, for example, aligns itself with lightness whereas deeper shades represent daring.
Red is the colour of passion, danger, excitement and vibrancy. It is also bold and can sometimes be considered alarming. Red logos are designed to jump out at you and make a decisive, in-your-face statement about the company behind the design.
Blue is the colour of the ocean and the sky and, as a result, is often tied to business venture’s which interact with these two parts of our planet. It is also associated with trust, reliability, solidity and calm.
Brown is tied with nature and honesty.
Black is bold, sophisticated and elegant. It can be considered quite formal and serious as well.
White, the colour of fallen snow, is associated with innocence and simplicity.
All of these colours, of course, will represent something slightly different to each of us. They are tied to associations we’ve made over the course of our lives, so bare that in mind. But when you create your brand, consider them wisely. The right colour or combination of colours might spell the success of your brand-building enterprise.