Brand color doesn’t mean anything on its own.
Q: What does your brand color mean?
Shocking, we know. We get this question all the time. What is the meaning of purple? Or blue? How about CERULEAN blue? Is periwinkle even blue?
Like fonts. graphic design, writing, photography, and other creative aspects of branding, there’s just enough information on brand color on the internet to make anyone, well, somewhat dangerous.
You have probably found yourself in a conversations where someone wants to tell you all about fonts after seeing Helvetica once, or who recently bought their first DSLR camera and suddenly has a watermark on their Instagram photos.
Maybe you know this person. Maybe this person is actually a Google search, and you’re overwhelmed by results like:
Avoid! Red means anger and danger. Sometimes it means warmth. Sometimes it means TOO HOT! Sometimes it means passion. You don’t want to be too passionate, though. And sometimes red makes you hungry. But how can you be hungry when you’ve got so many conflicting feelings?
VERDICT: Avoid red at all costs, it’s too difficult. Except when it’s not. Are you hot? I’m hot.
Bright! Fun! Energetic! Enthusiastic! Childlike! …you don’t want to seem like a child, do you? Or the Home Depot? Also “healing” I guess?
VERDICT: Only use if your brand is childlike, but proficient in home improvement.
It’s the color of sunshine. Bright, warm, inviting, hope, fun, happiness, optimism. Yellow’s a winner! Let’s all use yellow. (5 minutes later) Nobody can read this.
VERDICT: Yellow’s a winner, especially when you don’t want anyone to actually read any of your copy.
Green has to be a safe bet. That’s the color of nature. And money. Prosperity and abundance! And… banking. Fertility?
VERDICT: I’m tired.
And so on. But we at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE implore you to think about this in context. For example, if you saw a beautifully painted baby pink rhinoceros running at you at 34 miles per hour, would you think it’s cute?
If someone handed you a ratty forest-green sweatshirt, would your first thought be “Ah… money”?
How about a dyed-red ice cube (hey, stranger things have happened). Could you think about heat and passion while it’s melting in your hand?
Let’s look at a few examples of brand color that have flipped the script:
Thomas Pink: Would baby pink be the expected choice for masculine clothing? Maybe not, but it works!
Hermès: There’s nothing childlike about this luxury brand’s bold, brash orange.
Vans: Using bold red, black, and white, this brand is breaking out of its skateboarder stage.
Milk Makeup: “You can’t use the whole rainbow”, they said, but Milk paired it with clean grey and white for a surprisingly understated look.
by Chloe: Stark black and white allows the rainbow of colors to shine at this vegan eatery.
So now you know: your brand’s color can’t be decided out of its visual context. A color isn’t a “concept” all on its own.