1. There are generally industry standards for color. For example, green has become the industry standard for health and nutrition. “Green” has even become the term for eco-friendly. At the same time, you may also want to look at colors that are typically NOT used in your industry. For example, one large bank recently changed their logo, store signage, ATMs, etc from their red and black logo to a new logo featuring the colors blue and green. In the financial industry, being “in the red” is undesirable, while blue communicates trustworthiness. Thinking about typical colors for your industry and colors that may have a negative connotation are good practices when creating your identity and color palette.
2. Some colors help to evoke a mood. Peaceful colors are generally blue, green, or turquoise. Corporate colors are black or navy. Exciting colors are red or magenta. I generally hear clients say they’d like their logo and color palette to be bright and cheerful to evoke an uplifting mood, as in Denise Mock’s color palette. She wanted to reinforce a positive, cheerful outlook, so we decided to create her logo in several bright colors that can be used interchangeably in her marketing materials.
4. Colors can also create a sense of urgency. Yellow, red and orange have a tendency to be attention grabbing and therefore can cause a sense of urgency. In fact, in 1999, research from Pantone revealed that a yellow background with black type was the best color combination for printed material*. It stated that this combination scored highest in memory retention and legibility. Ever wonder why all those school flyers and postings on telephone poles are printed on neon paper?
5. Color can help you stand out. We’ve already talked about industry standards, that green usually is related to healthy, eco-friendly, or natural, but by choosing a different color than the industry norm, you can stand out. For instance, if you are the only purple label in the natural shampoo aisle, you’re label will be most likely to stand out. Sometimes, it’s about being different.
6. You need to be versatile. Don’t “paint yourself into a corner” with color. Make sure you have a color palette. Choose colors that work together as a family. Make certain they can be used to compliment each other and facilitate the type of instant communication we’ve talked about.
7. Lastly, break the rules. Use colors that appeal to you. You want to love your logo and branding, so be sure to choose what speaks to you, as well. There is always more than one option when it comes to color in business. You don’t have to choose anything that you don’t like or that doesn’t resonate with you.
* The Costco Connection, December, 1999
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass