How to find the most powerful colour for your brand

 Colour is the ninth wonder of the world! It says so much  in a language without uttering a sound. Such a powerful design tool deserves to be used expertly. So how do you choose the right colour for your brand?

Pantone colour swatch fan
A Pantone colour swatch fan.

Here are a few of my tips when for making the right choice of colour.

  1. What industry is your business brand in? Is your business in the finance, industrial, residential, fashion, retail, educational sector? Each business sector has its own behavioural cues- a bit like body language. Everyone expects and understands these cues and they make people feel comfortable and reassured. For example the finance sector likes to been seen as conservative, solid, established and stable. The brand should convey these messages in an understated manner.  Good colour choices would be ‘business blue’ or muted tones like burgundy. Avoid pure and primary colours unless you are going for a ‘rebel’ brand look and feel with a business model that does things differently in your sector.
  2. How is your brand positioned in the market it competes in? Is it a premium priced brand or budget value brand? Use colour to help convey this message. Bright primary colours are usually associated with budget low-priced brands particularly primary mailbox red. Make your upmarket brand more luxe with a special custom or spot colour like ‘Valentino’ red. (See my comments on the recent Valentino exhibition here.)  Team your main colour with a wider palette to extend a mood or theme you are expressing with the brand.

    Valentino Branding

    The iconic "'V' of the Valentino brand which has its own custom colour known as a colour in its own right - Valentino Red. Picture taken at the entrance to Valentino exhibition at Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art.

  3. Is your brand competing in an overcrowded space? Sometimes it is sooo good to break all the rules! Make daring colour combinations or choose an unexpected colour none of your competitors would dare to embrace, ie be a ‘rebel’ brand. This can help get you noticed and make a strong point of difference.
  4. Meaning of colour. Colour has different meanings to different people across cultural boundaries. Even within one society, colours can have a different psychological effects across an audience. You need to think about the makeup of your target market and any differences in interpretation. Consider the tone as well as the colour. Warm colours (reds, orange, yellows) are associated with energy and happy emotions. Adding black, grey or a touch of cool blue to these tones will turn them into dingy shades that conjure up opposite emotions.
  5. Be consistent across a range of media. When you have decided on the perfect colour that expresses all the personality for your brand, make sure it can be reproduced accurately across a range of media. This means it needs to look like your colour on your website( RGB) as well as in your print materials (CMYK)  and from your desktop printer. Paint colours and fabrics are another consideration. Use a Pantone® colour which is a system of standardised colours for identifying, matching and communicating between providers.

 Check out this blog from Colour Lovers on colours that are the most dominant and powerful online:

Colour Power

Colour is my passion. I love the way colour can make you feel. It has the power to uplift you and make you feel happy, sad, serious or sassy! Knowing  how to use colour and what the current trends are will help your business make the right decision on using colour suitable for your brand. Carry the feel of your brand into your retail /office  or event space with the right choice of colour and visual language.

 Colour is one of my favourite design tools and here’s what I learned from a Global Colour Research (a prominent UK trend forecaster) Spring/Summer 2011 trends presentation recently in Melbourne.  

As you might expect, trends emerge from attitudes of what is happening in our world. Not surprisingly recovering from the GFC but embracing the future (with cautious optimism) is a strong driver for 2011 trends.   

The four 2011 trend directions from Global Colour Research are:  

  1. Whisper-
    Incorporates ethereal, translucent, smokey,  fluid forms and skeletal structures and grid patterns (I can think of some great light shades examples like this ). Texture is important and the importance of heirlooms. Colours are muted with highlights of turquoise and greyed lilac.


Whisper-main colour palette

Whisper- main colour palette

  1. Spirit-
    This is a  favourite of mine embodying a homage to spring with colours featuring cool, bright tones of vivid English spring green balanced with earthy wood neutrals and added strength from an indigo purple. Natural materials eg. wood, skins and leather hearld the importance of nature. Materials are functional and eco desirable. Symbols are drawn from folk-lore or nature inspired. 
Spirit- main colour palette

Spirit- main colour palette

  1. Genteel-
    This trend embraces domestic nostalgia and is pale and interesting with a neutral palette of off white and greyed beiges with a shot of uplifting colour- red. Surfaces are distressed, patterned with relief, gilded or tonal. It can be used to add theatre and drama (with velvet and gold).
Genteel- main colour palette

Genteel- main colour palette

  1. Risk-
    For those who want something with a bit more bite!! Sci fi meets low fi, space age and industrial influences drive this trend. Expect to see hyper-realism (think of triffids), post apocalyptic dark shades. Rough and smooth textures and Superman comic strip colours of blue and orange-yellow (aged as though in the original comic book).
Risk-main colour palette

Risk- main colour palette

Note: Colours are approximate representations.  

Do you have a favourite? Let me know what you think?

Great Brand Packaging Idea

Wow! I love this idea for incorporating meaningful and memorable packaging that enhances the brand for Nike. This is a limited edition shoebox produced for Nike’s sponsorship of soccer. The box is plain and the usual on the outside. Open the lid and hey you are transported into the stadium with the internal graphic design. And even more impressive as you lift the lid you are greeted with the sound of the roar of the appreciative crowd (from an embedded sound chip). That has to make you feel good. And all for buying a pair of sports shoes!

great brand packaging

Enhancing the brand experience with great packaging

Be special

Many businesses are trapped in a competitive cycle of being selected on price alone. If your customers choose you for this reason you don’t have much to offer them in return. You want your customers to choose you because you are either:
• The best
• The first
• The fastest
• The most reliable
• Have something special or different
• Or your customers just like you much better than anyone else.
Having a strong brand identity can help communicate your ‘difference’ and make you stand out in the minds of your potential customers (as well as your employees) and with a strong brandmark make you visually memorable as well. We receive a minimum of 2500 brand messages everyday- it is a crowded marketplace with every product competing for our attention. Our subconscious mind receives 2 million pieces of information every second. However the conscious mind can only process 5-9 pieces of information per second. Having a strong brand identity makes your product/service more easily remembered and identifiable in this competitive and crowded arena.

Brandmarks of popular cars

What emotional response do you have to these brands?

Take a look at the car market. Brands in this market are clearly defining their advantages through the branding.
BMW- performance
Mercedes- quality engineering etc.
Visit this site for more on the background of world brandmarks of popular cars.

Makeover your brand

Your business projects an image to your customers. It will tell your customers many messages before engaging with you. Your brand is much more than a logo on your business card. A well thought out brand identity will carry messages about how you do business, what is important to you and give clues about whether you are expensive or cheap just by the visual imagery and messages it contains.

Many well established brands undertake regular updates of brandmark and identity to ensure they are still ‘tuned in’ with the customer base. A brand refresh can be subtle, refresh the visual appearance, and to the average customer largely goes unnoticed. It can also be ‘rolled’ out in stages. See the example of a brand refresh for Dolby below. The changes are subtle and hard to notice unless the two are side by side. However the new refreshed brandmark updates the company’s image necessary for its business. 

dolby brand refresh

Dolby brand refresh

What will be noticed however is when a brand shows signs of being unloved and out of step with the customer. At this stage a bigger ‘makeover’ may be needed, sometimes calling for a complete new approach of a rebrand. The example below shows a major change in the visual presentation for the BP brandmark also reflecting on a new emphasis within the business.
BP logo

Rebrand BP logo

Tips for reviewing your brand
1. What do you promise your customer? Has that changed or been undermined by your competition?
 2. Are all your messages consistent? Create a style guide.
3. Evaluate your visual presentation.
4. Is all your content up to date?
5. Are there new ways of reaching your customers? media or sponsorship of events