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“Feel” The Colors Around You.

September 21st, 2011

The meanings and feelings behind colors lead to a very long conversation that might enter the meta-physical realm. But there’s no need to get that deep.  To keep it short and sweet: colors make people “feel stuff.” And designers and marketing professionals make choices regarding color accordingly.

To start off, each color has a meaning that varies by geographic location and culture. For example, while most cultures represent anger with red, in Hindu tradition anger is represented by the color black. Many more examples exist around the world. So if your business is international, familiarize yourself with cultural color differences to 1) avoid making any faux-pas and 2) to visually represent your brand in the way you intend.

That brings us to “owning” your color. A great example of a brand successfully doing this is UPS. Though some might find brown unsightly, UPS leading has not changed its color palette since 1916.  Despite FedEX giving UPS some fierce competition, UPS is still the service provider.Why? Because UPS tapped into the power of brown. It’s a natural color that represents reliability, dependability and steadfastness, appealing attributes if you’re thinking about sending your collection of antique tea cups through them. Not to mention, brown’s the traditional color of shipping boxes and is synonymous of the shipping industry.

Ultimately, UPS made a conscience decision to keep brown in their logo because it instantly represents What They Stand For as a company.  McDonald’s did the same: happy golden arches and red background invite customers in by stimulating their senses, and their appetites, and giving them a sense of confidence.

Companies also tend to stick with the colors that are typical of their industry. Think about restaurants, in particular, fast food restaurants. The majority of their logos use red in some way. Now think of financial services firms – they typically stick with shades of dark blue. Though dark blue can be associated with sadness, it more often than not indicates calmness and a responsible nature. It’s no surprise the financial industry has an abundance of dark blue because this color is associated with strength, intelligence and sophistication – qualities that the financial services industry wants to exude. . On the flip side, light blues tend to be more refreshing and energizing, which work well with brands that want to be depicted as youthful and fun, such as Tiffany and Co.

Want more examples? Take a look at the blogs for Sensational color and Smashing magazine. They provide great examples of how colors are used for branding and design.

Is your color saying the right thing? How and why did you choose your brand’s color? Does it fit with what you’re trying to say? Share your thoughts and we’ll give you our opinion.

Posted Under: Advertising, Art & Design, Branding, Greater Philadelphia, Innovation & Technology, Media & Journalism, Point of View Marketing, Storytelling
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