Posted on 21st March, 2019
Understand the personalities of colour and how to choose yours.
When it comes to establishing your brand, choosing your colours may appear to be a seemingly trivial and straightforward task. Surely you go right ahead and go with your personal favourite, right? Think again.
Research suggests that up to 90% of snap judgments about a product are made based on colour alone. Let that sink in for a moment…90%. That means that no matter how sublime your product or service, up to nine out of ten of your potential customers are likely to be influenced by the colour you choose for your brand. So getting it right can be crucial.
While such judgments may be subconscious. That doesn’t change the fact that your brand colours can have a direct effect on your customers purchasing intent. But, they have a significant impact on how your brand is perceived and when it comes to branding, perception is everything.
Colour can, of course, trigger different responses in different people. Still, no matter how subjective these responses may be. There is a general principle that we advise: If it incites an emotional response, whether consciously or subconsciously, it is an essential consideration for your branding.
Choosing your brand colour – a step by step guide
- People are attracted to brands that emulate their personality, so first and foremost, when selecting your brand colour, it is essential to understand your customers and their preferences. If you’re not entirely sure, then do your research and don’t forget, gender, industry, culture, context and personal experiences can all have an impact.
- You’ll also need to have a solid grasp of your business too of course. Try asking yourself the following:
- What is the nature of your brand; for example, is it more feminine or masculine?
- Figure out the level of formality: are you serious or playful?
- Understand the feelings associated with your product; luxury and prestige or comfort and affordability?
- Decide how your brand is classified: are you contemporary or classical, modern or traditional?
- What sort of energy do you want your brand to promote? Are you bold and loud or reserved?
- You’re ready to start selecting your colours, and we’ve put together the following guide to help.
Red: Power, strength and fearlessness
The universal colour of enthusiasm, passion and energy, red might be perfect for you if your brand is playful, youthful, bold or noisy. Far from being subtle, the colour red is brave enough to reduce analytical thinking and promote impulsiveness, which is why it is so popular with retail sales. It is worth keeping in mind that the colour red can also be associated with rage, anger and defiance, so use it wisely!
- Famous Red Brands: Coca-Cola, Virgin, KFC, Netflix, Lego, Nintendo
Yellow: Joy, creativity and optimism
- Typically considered positive, sunny, energetic and optimistic, yellow is primarily regarded as cheerful and can lift self-esteem when used effectively. Stimulating and attention-grabbing, yellow is proven to catch the eye more quickly than any other colour too. It’s not all sunshine and daisy’s though, too much yellow can also trigger frustration, fear and anxiety, so if yellow is your colour, use it sparingly!
- Famous Yellow Brands: McDonald’s, JCB, Ikea, Caterpillar, Hertz, EE
Orange: Confidence, warmth and courage
- Playful and refreshing, orange packs a punch and is a vibrant colour that combines the warmth of red with the joy of yellow. Orange is said to draw attention and have a playful, childlike appeal – inspiring feelings of courage, innovation and friendliness. Of course, these traits can also mean that orange can be viewed as being immature and frivolous if used in the wrong context, so be sure it aligns with your brand ethos before making it your colour.
- Famous Orange Brands: EasyJet, Nickelodeon, TNT, Amazon
Green: Nature, prosperity and hope
- The colour green requires no adjustment when it hits the human retina, which means it is officially the most ‘easy on the eye’ of all colours. As a result, green is considered calming, restful and reassuring and represents hope, growth, freshness and above all, balance. In brighter ‘zingy’ tones such as lime, green can also represent innovation, youth and vibrancy. As with all colours though, if misused, green can have some negative connotations including envy, sickness and jealousy, so use it with care.
- Famous Green Brands: Starbucks, Harrods, Spotify, Android, BP
Blue: Calm, loyalty and reliability
- Serene and calming, blue is the colour of the mind. It conveys clarity and communication – which is perhaps why it proves so popular with social media platforms. The most universally favoured colour, blue is versatile in that its various shades can mean a variety of things. For example, while dark blue is associated with intelligence, stability and dependability, lighter tones are linked to creativity, serenity and optimism. But beware, as a cool colour, blue can also appear icy, distant or cold.
- Famous Blue Brands: Facebook, Twitter, Samsung, Ford, VW
Purple: Wisdom, creativity and luxury
- The colour of spirituality, imagination and nobility, purple is lavish and passionate colour that is often considered regal, wise and imaginative. As well as intuition, quality and creativity, purple is to convey self-awareness, reflection and compassion, making it a popular choice for brands who promote wellbeing. Purple is also said to represent the artistic talent, making it an ideal choice for creative and inventive brands. As with all colours, however, used in the wrong context, purple can also convey snobbery, sadness and frustration.
- Famous Purple Brands: Cadburys, Yahoo, Hallmark
Pink: Playfulness, romance and youthfulness
- Traditionally associated with femininity, romance and sentimentality, pink has found a new lease of life and is currently bang on-trend. The rise of ‘rose gold’ millennial pink (a colour that has been labelled genderless) has seen products flying off the retail shelves while ‘Hot Pinks’ are said to fuel creativity and convey youthfulness, energy and fun. The tone is everything when choosing pink for your brand. While subdued and muted hues are considered calming, romantic and delicate, brighter tones are passionate, vibrant and confident.
- Famous Pink Brands: Barbie, Benefit, T-Mobile, Victoria’s Secret
Black: Power, luxury and strength
- There can be no argument that when it comes to branding, black can make quite a statement. Bold and striking, black can be extremely versatile, and while it can be used to convey power and confidence, it is also popular due to its classic, elegant appeal. Of course, when talking about black, we must consider shades of grey too. Mid tones are the epitome of modern branding, and as well as having universal appeal, they convey simplicity, intelligence and modern/sleek design. It’s no coincidence that Apple’s brand colour is grey.
- Famous Black Brands: Chanel, Adidas, Nike, YSL, Apple* (*Grey)
Take a look at our other blog post about Small business Branding:
Posted on 21st February, 2019
Are you a client who has provided a rough creative brief? Given your designer ‘a blank canvas’ but found the final result lacking in innovative design?
Are you a designer who has found yourself working to what you believed to be your client’s objectives? Only to discover (often too late), that you’ve missed the mark completely? You’re likely to have been missing one crucial ingredient.
There is a saying in life that ‘You get out what you put in’. This is never truer than in the case of graphic design. Graphic design is about crafting solutions to real problems. This requires understanding, and there needs to be information for understanding. Without knowledge (a meaningful insight), designers will have to resort to an awful lot of guesswork, which is not an excellent basis for a successful project. In comparison, they may be able to produce something that looks great (that should be a given with a professional). Will, it hit the mark when it comes to solving your problem, achieving your objectives or generating results?
A designer who takes the time to unravel your mind and get to know you will always deliver better results. If your designer doesn’t understand you, your audience won’t either.
“Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.”
– Hans Hofmann
NEED TO KNOW BASIS
As a designer, hearing the words “you’re the experts” can be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s fantastic that a client has faith and trust in your ability, but that’s not a reason to bypass the all-important ‘getting to know you’ phase. That process can sometimes take a little time – but ultimately, it’s time well spent for everyone and can mean time and money saved.
The onus for this process falls to both the designer and the client. At the same time, a client should be willing and able to provide a detailed insight into context, challenges and preferences. Any designer worth their salt should also have the skills to probe further to leave no stone unturned.
SO WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU SKIP THIS ESSENTIAL STAGE?
At best, you could end up with something that looks great but achieves nothing. At worst, you could create confusion undo previous successes and potentially even damage your brand. If that’s not worth a detailed conversation upfront, we don’t know what is.
First, a designer needs to understand why there is a need for a particular piece of design. Have you seen a decline in sales, do you have a new product or service to launch? Way before a designer should be putting ‘pen to paper’ (or mouse to mac). The designer needs to have a solid grasp of the context for a project. Understanding where the longer-term vision and goals lay. This ‘bigger picture’ insight is an essential foundation, and in our experience, it fuels the creative process and allows for more imaginative thinking.
IS YOUR PROJECT PART OF A WIDER CAMPAIGN?
If so, the designer will need to know what’s going on beforehand, what’s going to run next and what’s going to come after that. Not only is this critical in terms of providing an insight into established branding and visual styles. It also helps us understand what stage in the buying process your customer may currently be. Thus how this particular piece of creative should perform.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?
The more clearly you can define your target market, the more a designer can tailor their work. There is a well-known saying that ‘you can’t be all things to all people’ and this is undoubtedly true in the case of design. If you have evidence to support why previous campaigns have (or haven’t) worked well with your target market, that information is incredibly valuable.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
The design should be designed to incite a response, produce a specific reaction or promote a particular action. Without understanding what answer you’d want, or what you think ‘success’ looks like, how can your designer hit the nail on the head? If you calculate success based on an increase in sales revenue. But your designer is building on growing brand awareness or social interaction. You may not be entirely happy with the outcome.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
In some instances, there may well be obstacles or challenges that your business faces. Your designer will need to bear in mind during the creative process. These may be linked to the competitive environment, factors on the broader market or could even something specifically relating to your business. Be they small or significant – we need to know about them.
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES/SELLING POINTS?
All businesses have something that sets them apart from their competition. But not everyone is excellent at identifying or summarising what that is. You must understand your key messages and selling points. This is so your designer understands them too and can clearly (and concisely) convey them in your creative.
WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
Do you have a ballpark budget in mind? If, so your designer needs to know. This isn’t so that we can go away and start planning our next shopping trip. It’s so that we understand the full scope and feasibility of what you’re asking. This way, we can come up with viable suggestions that will deliver against both your brief and your budget.
Posted on 23rd January, 2019
As we discussed in our previous guide to graphic design posts. Graphic design has become democratised, so when it comes to selecting the design agency for you, there is often no shortage of choice. Of course, making the right choice can be somewhat more complicated. In our view, in addition to creativity (which should be a given), there are a host of other things that are worth looking out for, many of which do not come from a free pitching process.
We understand that as a client, it may be tempting to put multiple agencies to the test before selecting one, but the value of the ‘free pitch’ has long been called into question, and for a good reason. Despite its allure, this old industry habit is not just wasteful of agency resources; it’s dangerous for the client as well. In short, when it comes to free creative pitching, everyone gets the short end of the stick.
Amongst other things, the pitching process can, in many cases, completely omit those necessary ‘getting to know you’ stages that we’ve previously talked about and gloss over the actual value that your designer has the potential to add…
TOUGH ON CLIENTS…
Design agencies sell an expert problem-solving service. When you hire a professional team, you’re getting a creative team who will dive into your business, investigate the problem, understand the stakeholders, and collaborate with you to fine-tune a solution that takes all of these into account. Much of what makes a solution successful are the insights that come along the way throughout this journey.
With the pitching process, however, all of this is generally thrown out the window in favour of a skeletal brief and some swift guesswork on the part of the agency, capped with a theatrical talent show. The result? A surface-level solution that might tick all the boxes in a creative pitch, but which has ultimately cheated you of the full value of the investigative design process.
WHY DO AGENCIES SAY NO?
Even though they’d likely love to work with you, some agencies may decline to take part in your pitch, leaving you with a weakened field. Here’s the reason why.
As an agency, we’ll be the first to admit that speculative work is time and cost-intensive and can be a massive drain on resources. Inevitably, an agency will only be able to invest a certain amount into your pitch if they are busy delivering results for their existing (paying) clients. What this means that you won’t get the full benefit of working with them – you’ll get a watered-down solution that will in most cases be ‘style over substance’. While some agencies may be happy with that, there are those amongst us who certainly wouldn’t be – and you shouldn’t be either.
SO WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?
It may feel like there is no viable alternative when it comes to finding your designer, but that is not the case. If you want to see an agency at their best (and eliminate the chance of flimsy, poorly considered creative), invite them in to give a credentials presentation.
While this is a perfect chance to get to know the agency and see examples of the success they’ve done on people, it’s an opportunity to get to terms with their methods. You can then decide if they’re going to be a good match for you and, of course, have insight into their creative abilities as well.
HERE ARE OUR TOP THREE TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THIS PROCESS…
Involve the right decision-makers
Make sure when meeting an agency that all of the decision-makers are in the room. As well as senior members of staff, this may well include those who will directly be working with the agency to make sure the project is delivered effectively. Those are the people who have to work with the agency after all – so rapport is essential. It’s far better for all of the crucial stakeholders to witness the presentations in their entirety, and be able to ask their questions.
2. Don’t get hung up on the design.
When evaluating an agency, try not to put too much weight on a specific design concept presented but instead, focus on the bigger picture. It’s more important that you can see that their work is of high quality, that they can innovate and that they demonstrate understanding.
Not all agencies will be a good fit for the personality of your business. Keep an eye on cultural fit and attitude, and don’t underestimate the power of that hard-to-define “chemistry.” (Yep, it’s a bit like dating.) They should be presenting some fantastic design work, but the designs can be changed – the team delivering them can’t.
3. Look for process
Use the designs presented as a window into each agency’s process. What research did they conduct? How did they get to the solution? Does the agency have a formal way of looping the client into the process from start to finish? All of this is d a great indication as to whether you think you could work well with the agency and build a partnership that works.
Ultimately, this is just the beginning (hopefully!) of a long process of creative problem-solving. By using it to understand how an agency works, and to get a feel for working together, a more successful union is on the cards. Treat it like a quick competition and, well, you’ll get what you’ve paid for.