What message does color convey?

There has been a bit of chatter in our industry lately about the color choices companies are making in brand communications and I’d thought I share.

When we present logo designs or initial branding concepts, we do so in black to avoid any personal opinion on color getting in the way of the main message of the artwork. It is only after the concept is presented with a lack of color, that we introduce and suggest the proper color palette to complement the company message.

Why not show it all together? Because even the most subjective business owner has a subconscious notion of color. They need to first make a decision on what the graphic is saying and then the emotion that the color evokes. We try to get the customer to make that decision without personal taste, school spirit, or team loyalty clouding their judgement. It is important for them to think like the audience… who is not thinking 🙂 Hard to do, right?!

Quick Story: I am proposing a logo and signage system for an upscale, oceanfront, residential neighborhood in Georgetown, SC. The owner is a University of South Carolina alum and hates Duke. The system I propose uses ocean blue. He hates the blue. Doesn’t want to use it and wants to use red. What? How do you communicate the peaceful ocean breeze, the cool sea spray hitting your face, or the sound of the waves hitting the shore without using the color of the ocean water? You don’t. Red is urgent, intimidating and puts anyone on edge. It is anything but a RELAXING color. It wasn’t until I had this conversation with him that he agreed. Communicating the message was more important than his school spirit.

There has been study after study done on how we shop and the role that color plays in making purchasing decisions. Fast Company recently published an article on the color theory used in marketing communications. Included in that article (and posted on my Facebook feed even before that) was this fun info graphic that analytics company, KISSmetrics created to visual sum up the emotion that colors evoke. Fast Company took additional information and created the “Buy” chart you see. This type of information has been used in my presentations for almost 10 years to get companies to think about what they want to say and the color it is presented in. To get them to understand that there is a reason for every design decision made and it isn’t because we just like the color blue.

So what can you do to better communicate your brand to your audience?

Ask yourself these questions and choose your colors wisely:
How do I want my audience to feel when they look at my brand?
What three words would I use to describe the personality of my brand?
What is the main message I am trying to communicate about my brand?