This is the second in a series of how-to articles by Vivant on things that matter in branding, marketing and digital presence for businesses. We hope they clear a few things up for you!

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It’s a lasting problem for so many of our clients here: when doing a new logo or new branding identity, “what colour should we go for?” It’s not as easy as, “well I like pink”. It’s something to consider, but it can’t be the be-all and end-all of the decision process.

While we will guide you through the branding design process, there are things to remember when choosing what your brand will look like. Remember, the colours in your logo will likely affect what all of your branding will look like, from signage to gifts to banners to your entire look and feel of your website. So choose carefully!

When one of our designers sits with a client, the first step is to discuss colour association: that is, what values you associate most with your brand. It’s alright to choose more than one – very often, complementary shades of different colours can be used to create complex associations with brands. To give you an idea what the base colours in branding represent, take a look at this:

And it holds true for almost every brand out there. It’s no mistake that Coca Cola chose red – it’s aggressive, confident, bold and striking, enough to make you really want their product even if you didn’t know you wanted it. Would it be as effective if the can was white? Probably not. It’s all down to what feeling you want to convey.

Our designers will also tell you that some colours have double connotations. For example, pink is babylike and feminine, but it can just as easily be a very adult colour if used correctly: some brands prefer pink because it’s as in-your-face as red is, but it’s a less threatening, less overpowering and more approachable colour. There’s a lot of marketing psychology that goes into colour selections in brands.

The next step in determining what colours should go into your brand is the simplest: are there any colours that have special significance to you? It’s an important part of the process, since you’re going to have to live with the brand for as long as your business is with you, so it should really be something you like (or at least get along with).

To make your brand more rounded and sophisticated, don’t just go for one colour: pick a base colour and get your designer to draw up a colour palette for you. There are colours that are complementary (like blue and orange or red and green) and then colours that match in tone (like blue and grey). Making sure your palette doesn’t clash is an important part of the branding exercise, since you may well want to have various incarnations of the branding in different settings, where one combination will work better than others.

Then there’s colour association. What industry are you in? If you’re in construction, there’s an automatic affiliation with yellow, orange and black. Motoring has a long history with blue, red and white. Organic products are naturally coupled in green and white. It’s not that you have to stick with these – you’re welcome to break with the traditions, as long as you have good reason to and it fits with your overall brand.

Lastly, look at your competitors. If you’re in a sector that’s dominated by companies with a similar colour set, there’s likely good reason for it – and, in some cases, good reason to go in another direction altogether. Just don’t make the decision on your own! Always discuss your thoughts with your graphic designer to get a professional perspective.

We hope this has been informative – look out for our next article in the How To series by Vivant Studios.

We have assisted some of the biggest brands in South Africa – Dry Ice International, Giftwrap, Trunel Bags

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