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Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Branding and Color: Use Color To Define Your Brand

By Mariel Bacci
November 5th, 2012

The Use Of Color In Brand Development

In our last post we uncovered some of the ways you can use color to increase the functionality of your site.  Today, we are going to go over a more common topic in color research-color for your brand image.  Every color in the spectrum will have a specific effect on the human mind and make an important and lasting impression on your potential customers.  In this article we hope to give you a better understanding of the importance of color considerations when developing your brand.  You will be able to get started manipulating color to promote your brand with colors that reveal the integrity, disposition, and personality of your company.

Why Color Is Important When Creating Your Brand

  • Color Influences First Impressions. Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. Source: CCICOLOR – Institute for Color Research
  • Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent – Source: University of Loyola, Maryland study
  • Color Adds Interest. More than 10 million bottles of Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup were sold in the first seven months following its introduction, with Heinz factories working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with demand. The result: $23 million in sales attributable to Heinz green ketchup [the highest sales increase in the brand's history]. All because of a simple color change.
  • Color Alters Brand Identity. Apple brought color into a marketplace where color had not been seen before. By introducing the colorful iMacs, Apple was the first to say, “It doesn’t have to be beige”. The iMacs reinvigorated a brand that had suffered $1.8 billion of losses in two years.
  • Color Increases Memory. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with natural colors may be worth a million, memory-wise. Psychologists have documented that “living color” does more than appeal to the senses. It also boosts memory for scenes in the natural world.  By hanging an extra “tag” of data on visual scenes, color helps us to process and store images more efficiently than colorless (black and white) scenes, and as a result to remember them better, too. – May 2002 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association (APA)

What Local Colors Mean To Your Audience

Every culture has different values, and colors are reflected in their values.  If you are branding in Singapore or San Paolo or to a specific sports team for instance, we recommend you do a little research on the meaning/history of colors in the culture you are selling to before you begin your project.  In the western world color sentiment is usually depicted as follows:

Color In The Real Word Of Advertising

Your site should use multiple colors to assist in brand meaning and identification and for ease of navigation. You should choose a predominant color or two for your brand and your site and use complimentary colors for your navigational elements. Car companies have spent millions on color research, so let’s take a look at what color schemes they use to reflect their brand image.

Audi is a premier luxury car brand.  They are using red, black and grey to encourage a feeling of sophistication, opulence and even danger and passion around their image. The Audi Logo is silver with Red copy.  If you search online for car brands, you will find that upwards of 80% of them use this exact same color scheme.

Toyota Prius uses white, blue and green as the primary colors on their website. These colors give a person shopping for cars the automatic feeling that the Prius is pure, “green,” and stands by the importance of nature and serenity. Since Prius is the most poplar electric car on the market, we know that they are using these colors effectively to touch people looking for a cleaner more earth friendly vehicle.

Subaru is taking a chance on their site and using orange to reflect the importance they put on adventures, fun and exploration. Subaru’s automobiles are generally four wheel drive utility vehicles, so this image makes sense for them.  Notice how orange does not overwhelm the webpage and is used in conjunction with black.  The two color approach does not exhaust the eye and also gives the audience the feeling that the brand is high quality and dependable.

Take Away Steps To Use Color For Branding

1. Know Your Market

Are you trying to sell Jerseys to the marketing director of the Detroit Lions? Then make sure you brand to them with silver and blue.  Is your target audience in Asia?  Consider the importance of red and what it communicates to your audience.  Is your website targeting an Irish Audience?  What do orange and green say about your brand in that context?  Are they young? Old? High income? Low income? Male or female? Upper class, middle class, creative class? As with any marketing endeavor, consider your audience first.

2. Always Be Testing

Not sure how your audience will respond to a specific color scheme?  Do qualitative and quantitative analysis.  Color should not be one of the primary things you research on your site, but you should make sure you are using a color scheme that your audience is receptive to, and that your navigational elements are obvious to your site guests.

3. Not All Colors Are Created Equal
Some colors are a lot easier to work with than others.  Unless your brand is going to be funded with millions and millions of dollars, or wants to stand out as the black sheep of your industry, stick with safe colors. Purple and orange will never be received as graciously as blue, beige or green.

How did you choose the colors for your logo, marketing materials and website?  Are you still trying to decide? If you need assistance in any aspect of properly using color on your site, we have some well researched and tested solutions for you.

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Comments (39)

  1. Our corporate website, which is an environmental website predominantly uses green, whereas our primary advice domain sues grey. Inherently, they both bring very good traffic and I think that the colors used have been pretty important in portraying what users think of them

  2. Interesting. I never made ​​the connection between brands and colors…

  3. I use Orange for my brand. But never know how important it is and what’s the meaning. Thanks for the Post. I will take care of it :)

  4. I love the red in my logo. Although its hard to make a chain company look sexy or exciting.

  5. I’ve always been partial to blue. The Heinz story was interesting. There was no way anyone was going to get me to eat green Heinz. I thought it was a failure since it’s not on the shelves anymore.

  6. I would love to combine color for the adsense ads that display on my site but it was not successful

  7. Its really nice to see some examples of colors used for brand development.
    Simplicity is good, but adding a splash of colour can really pull a website off the page.
    Our corporate website predominantly uses orange.I love the concept of color in real world of advertisement. Its really clean and playful.

  8. Color does make a big difference in branding.. my friend actually made had several color changes in his logo until he found a right one to brand himself :) nice info

  9. Great article, just what I was looking for. I am actually right now in the process of launching a new brand and I am shifting and trying something new: usually I went for blue/gray (conservative) colors and now I plan to shift to a more colorful, lively brand.

    I still think that at the end so much depends on how you put “life” into the brand. Would it make a big difference if BP is green or blue? Probably no.

    Yahoo is purple, so? It does not have a real business impact (IMHO). But maybe I am wrong, we will see in a few months once I have my new brand launched.

  10. Colour can be so important and representative of a brand, in not only telling a client what what you are about but also to attract the right clients that want what you have to offer. So much to learn.

  11. I would like to stress that it’s not only colors that are important to your brand. You can achieve success with your brand even with true minimalism, if you are able to bring out the idea of your brand.

  12. color and the color selection is very important.
    You know that almost all of our lives have color support

  13. I am a graphic Designer and totally agree with you.
    Thanks for sharing this

  14. Hey.
    hehe, now I’m 100% sure that I choose the right colors for my company logo. I will remember this for future designing :)

  15. Today is all about the logo simplicity. Have a look at big brands like facebook, twitter, google etc. They have simple, non colourful logos.

  16. My problem with design and branding is I love using the color blue for some reason. It seems like no matter what site I am working on I still want to use that color. Oddly enough the description of that color fits me. :)

  17. I am looking for my new logo on my photography blog and now I will learn to make a good logo for branding… :)

  18. How good that our website is red and the logo as well! I guess this seems like a good decision! :)
    Thanks for your article!

  19. Pink is really interesting. Owens Corning became the first company to register a trademark with the FTC in 1986 for a product color for its “pink” fiberglass insulation products made famous by the company’s animated Pink Panther TV commercials.

  20. Fascinating article- I’ve just completely redesigned my website and I’ve been thinking of a rebrand. Being a redhead, I thought that I’d go with orange as I thought it would be quirky! It was that or green, as I’m in Ireland, and in all fairness orange over here means a bit more than anywhere else, politically wise. Very interesting advice and now I’m more undecided than ever, as I do like the idea of excitement and adventure that orange is meant to portray, but if it is the least favorite colour in America, I’m sure it is here too. I think I’ll leave it orange for now and ask my facebook page once I have a few more likes as I’ve only just set that up too. If anyone wants to look at my logo and give me advice here then it’d be appreciated! thanks again :)

  21. It’s amazing how a simple color affects a brand image. The article really present the science of color as far as the corporate world is concern. Although, we might not paying much attention to the correlation of colors and the brand image, we can always associate a certain company by the color it represent. Choosing a color in branding is very important as colors alter a brand identity.

  22. It’s a really good topic and something i did i bit of research into before designing my latest site… My site is a restaurant review/directory… From my research orange (the main colour I use), stimulates the appetite so seemed like a good fit for me… bit alarming to read that it’s one of the least popular colours in the US lol. I hope Latin america is abit different! :)

  23. My site is predominantly blue with accents of green. I think it looks personal and inviting.

  24. That is some great info about branding. Although colors may seem like a small detail, they are of significant importance in one’s subconcious mind. Bookmarked this, thank you.

  25. @Rob

    Just took a quick look at your website and orange is perfect for your logo. I believe it will work better for you than green. Your logo is actually better described as Black and White, and the orange adds accent and interest. In addition, photography is an art, and artists are given a lot more freedom with color when expressing their brand because of your guests inclination to actively appreciate color. It think you are on the right track!

  26. There’s definitely a psychology to color and it’s effects on the viewer. I don’t think enough people really research these things when they’re creating the color scheme for their site or even their logo. We use a red/black setup for ours (it’s just a little fluff thing), mostly to up play the sexy nature and power that people often see in bartending.

  27. Mariel, thanks so much for taking the time to have a look and I’m delighted you feel it’s a decent choice! It felt right to me initially, then as I was designing it I pulled around the hues in photoshop but kept coming back to the orange. Thanks again for the feedback and the article, very much appreciated :)

  28. I prefer a spartan style, so there is a lot of white on my site. I like giving the viewer the feel of images on paper, without too much clutter. Thanks to your article, I’ll play with the color accents, and see if it helps with my message.

  29. Interesting! I am trying to build my site from scratch and have always been on the lookout for the best colors to use. Time to do some serious thinking for me. I am leaning on yellow and green. Hope I will be able to use this soon! Thanks for this post. :)

  30. I really agree with your statment that always be testing, because without testing we can’t know what the market needs

  31. Interesting post, although I still believe the best way to go is with a boring, bland, white background.

  32. I have never really quite understood why companies and small businesses don’t use more colors for their branding, especially since their logos tend to be quite dull and dreary.

  33. Intresting article. Blue and black are always my choice. All my sites will have both these colors! They actually work pretty well for me. :)

  34. This is just the post I have been looking for! I’ve been working in graphic design for the past few years and I’m just starting to dabble in brand identity and design. Color is so important to the look and feel of a logo, and I think people often underestimate the power and effectiveness that color combination provides to a logo. Thank you so much for putting this together!

  35. Nowadays this means that YouTube is probably one of your first stops when you’re looking to improve your swing.

    You can study masters of the game over and over again and work out where you’re going wrong.

    Ideally, couple this in with a friend actually filming your current swing. Then you can compare the two side by side and figure out where you need to improve your technique.

  36. So true. Great article. That’s why every site I build now has color and branding at the forefront of the design process.

  37. I have never really quite understood why companies and small businesses don’t use more colors for their branding, especially since their logos tend to be quite dull and dreary.

  38. I’ve learned that color choice does indeed have an impact. You almost have have to be an artist to make a good selection though.
    Or just have a good eye

  39. What an awesome description of colors you gave. We are a graphic design and illustration firm based in United Kingdom.

    I certainly admired the way you described the usefulness of different color. I will try to keep those points in my and try to utilize them somewhere in my work flow. Infact, I can use the color accordingly with the brands like if they are some kind of spiritual site, I will go for white.

    Also, I would like to add before we start designing for web, what we can do is choose our main color and create a color palette based on it so that we can use it later on.

    Anyways, thanks for this wonderful post.

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

More articles from Mariel Bacci

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