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What Color Should We Use?

Part 1

Color is a highly subjective thing, but there are some general guidelines you can use in the context of branding. Here’s a series of questions that will help you narrow down your color options to a manageable set of choices.

Warm colors, red, orange and yellow, feel more aggressive. They build tension, especially in large amounts. Do you want to build tension with your color palette? Pontiac sells excitement, their logo is red.

Cool colors, blues, greens and purples, feel calming. They reduce tension. Do you want people to feel relaxed or secure? Volvo sells safety, their logo is blue.

Bright colors reach out and grab people. They’re appropriate for companies with an extroverted brand personality like Kate Spade.

Soft colors feel more friendly and inviting. Twitter and Skype both use a soft blue to encourage an open, conversational feeling.

Earthy colors, in addition to suggesting eco-consciousness, can suggest a level of ruggedness, like Land Rover’s hunter green.

Most companies hang their hat on a single color, Tiffany blue, Coke red, etc. But occasionally a company will use a multi-color logo like google or ebay. Would using a group of colors help convey your brand promise or set you apart from your competition in a significant way?

In the end, I think the most effective question you can ask is “How do you want people to feel about your brand?” and then identify the color or colors that support that.

In my next post, I’ll go color by color and give an example of a company that has used that color and the reason it works. If you’d like to talk color theory, branding, or anything else related to design, send me an email. My address is below.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director