Perhaps with the exception of music, nothing commands human emotion as effectively as color. For branding, understanding the symbolism of color is essential to understanding your brand’s image
We’re in San Bernardino, and at the County Probation Department, an unruly youth who has turned violent and uncontrollable is forced into an 8-foot by 4-foot cell. Within a short 10 minutes, the youth has stopped banging and yelling, has started breathing normally again, and has laid down to fall asleep. No tranquilizers were used. The magic that makes this possible? The room is painted bubblegum pink.
This true account is an example of the truth that nothing communicates to humans as clearly and quickly as colors. A far more complex example is the infinite variety of colors brands choose for their identity. I won’t provide a list of colors and “What they mean”—you can instantly find dozens of blogs that do just that. If you’re digging in to questions of color with a Los Angeles branding agency, ask yourself what you want your brand’s colors to say.
How specific is my message?
Although Apple occasionally makes forays into colored merchandise, giving customers a chance to express themselves a little, for the most part it has made a brand that largely traffics in greys, silvers, and white. Thus, their image—and their message—remains firm and timeless, and leaves it up to the screens of their devices to bring in the colors of the world.
Is your brand like that? Sometimes an unobtrusive color like white allows your message to be cosmopolitan and flexible. It’s also a great color for creativity, in the same way a blank white canvas does. Like a canvas, you can paint your brand with accents, which can change over time. Companies whose message is less specific can benefit from a more neutral palette.
What do I want to say?
Scientists say that we’re able to perceive about 10 million colors, which is to say, that you can say almost anything with the precise use of color. Does your brand have a one-color image, like T-Mobile, JetBlue, (or Twelve12)? Or do you have a little wiggle room? There may be a palette of colors, which express different parts of who you are—or they could express who you are only when together, like Google’s very recognizable four-color scheme. there are at least as many different strategies as there are colors.
We were working through a brand identity project for social app, and there were two purples that were on the table in front of a focus group. One purple was brighter and hotter, and the other was cooler, and a little more subdued. The app’s identity was one of excitement and involvement, which had come across to everyone, and as a result, everybody picked the brighter shade. It was such a night and day decision for them, and for our team too: one was the brand, and one wasn’t. It shows us two things:
1) Yes, color preferences are subjective, but not entirely. There is a language of color that we all speak. Because of this, certain applications of color are just obviously better, and will be better for a great majority of your customers.
2) No matter what your message is, there’s a color for it. There may be more than one good options, but at the end of the day, if you turn off the logic-side of your brain and just let your intuition take over, expressing your brand through the symbolism of color becomes possible.
It also helps to have people that speak color’s language, such as a Los Angeles branding agency. With enough thought, your choice of color can tell who you are faster, and more clearly than almost any other decision you make.