It is said that the sight of a Tiffany Blue Box is enough to make hearts beat faster. Epicureans around the world desire this light blue box tied with a simple ribbon. As a result, this shade of robin’s egg blue has become synonymous with luxury — so much so that Tiffany and Co has trademarked the color. This unique shade is a perfect example of how a color becomes intrinsically entwined with a brand’s story.
Color and Storytelling
90% of customers make snap judgements on brands and products based solely on color. This is why color is as important as a name and logo in branding your business. Try to imagine Victoria’s Secret without its iconic pink imagery, or Cadbury Dairy Milk in a green wrapper rather than purple. It feels wrong, doesn’t it? Colors are so closely associated with brands and products that most companies reserve an entire section of their brand guidelines just for its specifications.
Why do companies give so much importance to color? Because of its remarkable psychological impact on consumers. Certain colors have implicit significance and evoke particular emotions. For example, the red used by Nescafé is warm and inviting, but the same color on a stop sign means danger. In fact, color alone can tell you a lot about a brand. Victoria Secret’s pink symbolizes femininity, while the purple of Dairy Milk brings to mind richness and luxury. In both these examples, the choice of color highlights a key feature or quality of the brand.
While it is important to keep color psychology in mind while choosing your the right palette, your selection should also reflect your brand’s character. A luxury brand will shy away from an optimistic yellow and lean towards a rich gold. Even brands within the same industry might make drastically different choices. The United States Postal Service (USPS) uses blue to represent trustworthiness and reliability. Meanwhile England’s Royal Mail favors a bright red, which stands for dependability and persistence.
The Great Storytellers
Every brand is extremely diligent in choosing the colors that define it. These shades often reflect its core values, and over time, come to stand for the brand itself. The following two companies have used this exquisitely to tell their story.
Chanel is defined by various permutations and combinations of five colors — black, white, beige, gold, and red — and has intertwined these colors with the brand in every way possible. They are evident in every Chanel product, symbolize different sources of inspiration, and even tie back to Coco Chanel’s personal life. Take a look at this video for a glimpse of how the brand keeps its signature colors at the forefront.
Coca-Cola’s iconic red is hard to miss, and that’s exactly the point. What started as a design choice based solely on aesthetic value, evolved into a way to shine a spotlight on the product. The color is even used to draw attention within Coca-Cola offices, with pops of red indicating important locations such as meeting rooms and common areas. Learn how Coca-Cola uses this iconic shade to build its visual identity in this video.
Choosing your Color Palette
You know by now that the colors you choose to define your brand primarily depends on its personality and the meanings associated with each shade. However, aesthetic value should not be discounted. Before you pick your palette, it’s best to learn more about color theory.
First, consult a simple 12-step color wheel. Select well-balanced, complementary colors. These bold, eye-catching combinations are formed with shades that are directly across from each other on the wheel. Other color combinations include:
- Analogous: Three colors directly next to each other on the color wheel
- Split complementary: A primary color and the the shades on either side of it’s direct compliment
- Double complementary: Two sets of complementary colors, equidistant from each other on the color wheel
- Triadic: Three colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel
- Monochromatic: a single color and its various shades and tones
Once you have your color palette in place, experiment with different shades until you find a combination that’s easy on the eyes and fits your brand’s personality. Ideally, you should go for a neutral base color, and two complimentary colors to create a contrast. A third, contrasting color can help highlight important information in your brand communication.
Colors can influence customer perceptions and purchase decisions — a glimpse of the right shade can stimulate brand recall. And the best storytellers know how to take advantage of this. Whether it’s Axis Bank’s Burgundy Banking or McDonald’s iconic golden arches, colors have become a way for to build brand identity and tell the story.