Vol. XL What Is Your Brand Color?

Your Brand Color

When we meet with clients, there so excited about their ideas, they seem to overlook how the customer will identify them or their product. Color is key to your Branding identity. It’s important to know your demographics and also have strong product knowledg

Brand Identity: The Importance of Color

Color is an important consideration in your brand identity system.  Colors have a significant impact on people’s emotional state.  They also have been shown to impact people’s ability to concentrate and learn.  They have a wide variety of specific mental associations.  In fact, the effects are physiological, psychological, and sociological.

For instance:
•Non-primary colors are more calming than primary colors.
•Blue is the most calming of the primary colors, followed closely by a lighter red.
•Test takers score higher and weight lifters lift more in blue rooms.
•Blue text increases reading retention.
•Yellow evokes cheerfulness.  Houses with yellow trim or flower gardens sell faster.
•Reds and oranges encourage diners to eat quickly and leave.  Red also makes food more appealing and influences people to eat more.  (It is no coincidence that fast food restaurants almost always use these colors.)
•Pink enhances appetites and has been shown to calm prison inmates.
•Blue and black suppress appetites.
•Children prefer primary colors.  (Notice that children’s toys and books often use these colors.)
•Forest green and burgundy appeals to the wealthiest 3 percent of Americans and often raises the perceived price of an item.
•Orange is often used to make an expensive item seem less expensive.
•Red clothing can convey power.
•Red trim is used in bars and casinos because it can cause people to lose track of time.
•White is typically associated with cool, clean and fresh.
•Red is often associated with Christmas and orange with Halloween and Thanksgiving.
•Red and black are often associated with sexy and seductive and are favored by porn sites.
•Black clothes make people look thinner.
•Black is also associated with elegance and sophistication.  It also seems mysterious.
•Black is the favorite color of Goths.

Colors also have a functional impact on readability, eye-strain, ability to attract attention, ability to be seen at night, etc.  This is important in choosing colors for signing, website pages, prints ads, and other marketing media.
•The most visible color is yellow.
•The most legible of all color combinations are black on yellow and green on white followed by red on white.
•It is no surprise that most traffic signs use these color combinations.
•Black on white is the easiest to read, on paper, and on computer screens.
•Hard colors (red, orange and yellow) are more visible and tend to make objects look larger and closer.  They are easier to focus upon.  They create excitement and cause people to over-estimate time.
•Soft colors (violet, blue and green) are less visible and tend to make objects look smaller and further away.  They aren’t as easy to focus upon.  They have a calming effect, increase concentration, and cause people to under-estimate time.

So, how do you pick a good color for a design? For some products, it's a no-brainer because there are already established industry standards. Yellow, for example, is for construction equipment, and red or florescent green is for fire trucks. Here are a few tips on those and other colors:

Red suggests aggressive. The color raises subconscious flags because it's the color of blood. Red also means danger — and interestingly, excitement. That's why there are so many red sports cars.

Yellow is another spor ty color for much the same reason. But it also says "Caution" or "Hazardous."

White means different things in different cultures. It can suggest clean or sterile, denoting purity or holiness. I'm told that in Asia, white is the traditional color of death.

Black (Henry Ford's favorite) makes things seem rugged, even sporty. Black can also denote high class and formal. Like white, black suggests either holy or evil.

Silver denotes high tech, but can be construed as artificial.

Pink usually means "girlie" (the so-called "power ties" notwithstanding).

Blue, of course, is traditionally for boys.

Green is associated with natural, that is, safe.

Light green (and sometimes white) suggests medical.

Pastels mean gentle and pure.

Muted colors denote classy. Thus, they are plentiful in bank ads and men's clubs.

Bright colors (especially primaries) are fun and youthful.

Fluorescents are right out of the psychedelic 1960s, man. Interestingly, animals that cannot see color also can't tell the difference between leafy green and fluorescent orange. That's why hunters have fluorescent camouflage. (I must admit to more than a little confusion at the pink camouflage people wear nowadays. What kind of surroundings are they trying to fit into?)

Usually, it is advantageous for a brand to consistently “own” certain colors, which provide an additional recognition cue.  The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York has taken a different, but equally effective approach.  They intended to communicate that they are a fun and vibrant organization that features much more than artistic black and white photography.  So, the “e” icon in their logo appears in a rainbow of colors.  Each business card features the logo with a different color.  The name itself always only appears in black and white.

Obviously, colors are an important part of any brand identity system.  Testing the affect of a new brand identity system’s colors is well advised.  It is important to consider that color associations will vary by individual, and especially culture, due to the cultural context and previous experiences with the colors.  All of the impacts of colors are equally true of music, scents and sounds.  For instance, studies have identified that music has an impact on supermarket sales, mental concentration, achievement on standardized tests, factory productivity, clerical performance and staff turnover, among other things.

Color means many things to many people. Some color meanings are well known and used by marketing executives to convey a message to the public. Color responses are learned through our culture, but some feelings about it are purely individual.

A good working knowledge of color can help avoid making aesthetic design mistakes. Selecting the wrong color can tell potential customers that your company is stodgy and its products dated. After all, when was the last time you actually wanted to buy an avocado-green refrigerator?

When selecting colors to support a clients Life Brand we conduct an analysis to ensure that the colors represents-not only who they are as a person, but also the product or service they’re delivering. We have saved clients time an money, by doing it right the first time.


Photos: Kipton Art Blog, Christian Faur, Hexanine, Article source: “Color Psychology: Meanings and Effects of Colors”