Color Basics Behind Building A Brand

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You can’t help but appreciate color at this time of year. In many places fall foliage season is in full swing. The days are getting shorter, and colder to be sure, but the display of reds, yellows and oranges is just as incredible… as vibrant as ever.
In a tribute to the remarkable show Mother Nature puts on for us at this time each year, let’s take a look at how color can be used to get attention… to build your brand.
If you think about it, most of us have a favorite color… a highly personal, deeply rooted choice. You may have a least favorite as well. The thing is, colors are able to evoke feelings and influence behavior. Statistics say most of us favor blue… and if you notice, it’s also the most common color in business. Even on the web, though red is popular online too.
According to an often quoted University of Loyola, Maryland study, color increases brand recognition by as much as 80%. What’s more, ads in color are read 42% more often than the same ad in black and white according to a study on phone directory ads. Not that black and white can’t be effective — they can, but you’ll want to be careful how and where you use this approach. Images in color are thought to hold attention for up to 2 seconds… which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is a pretty significant amount of time in terms of holding customer attention.
We all react to colors… as Pamela Webb in a recent piece in Promotional Consultant Today says, color gives feeling to art, design and yes, even advertising and branding. If you understand how color works on us all,  you can make choices to support your design, emphasize your brand.
Here’s a bit on each of the four basic colors…

  • Red is a symbol of power, romance, vitality and energy and evokes highly charged emotions like aggression or love. In the direct mail world, red was always for the price and the phone numbers. That’s because we know that people pay attention to red. Only in the financial world is red a truly negative thing. Used red to add  excitement
  • Yellow brings to mind thoughts of energy, caution, warmth, cheer and joy. Yellows are often linked with characteristics like friendliness, softness, welcoming, homey, moving, excitement or adventure. Suggested uses: Stationery, shopping bags and press kits. Signs in the workplace to warn of danger.
  • Green is associated with growth, rebirth, fertility and life, linked for all of us to environmental causes. Green brings to mind characteristics like dependability, freshness, safety, security, healthy, strong, expensive and (strangely) primitive. Some also see green as a sign of good luck.
  • Blue/Purple are colors considered symbols of many positive attributes… peace, law and order, logic, analytical, smart, honest, calm, clean, tranquil, compassionate, serious, thoughtful, quiet, reflective, regal, classic, dependable, tradition and magical. Notice that blue is most often found in financial institutions, hospitals and in the medical, legal profession. Purple has long been linked to royalty and magical things, and are most often found in designs that appeal to women.

The Promotional Consultant Today piece draws on the work of Karen Saunders, the author of Turn Eye Appeal into Buy Appeal: How To Easily Transform Your Marketing Pieces Into Dazzling, Persuasive Sales Tools! This is a self help resource we’ve stumbled upon that brings easy to read and follow instruction to help you create logos, brochures, flyers and more on your own… no graphic designer needed.
Color meanings are also influenced by…

  1. the shade of the color
  2. the amount and placement of color
  3. the shape the color occupies
  4. the combination with other colors

In the end, the colors you choose for your brand or your logo should be those you like… that appeal to you. If you’re not happy, you’ll revisit that negative feeling every time you see your business card, your logo or your website. A good graphic designer can help you through the color selection process, and give you the heads up on any practical considerations (added costs for some colors, reproduction issues for others, cultural differences in perceptions) tied to a specific color.
No matter what color you choose to use, being consistent with that color (or combination) is important in establishing your identity. Go beyond using the color in your website and business card, use the colors associated with your brand on work clothing, your marketing materials and any promotional products you give out.
Color can, and does, make a world of difference…

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