The link between colour, branding, and identity

Jun 15, 2017

Ahhh, brand identity. We’ve all heard the horror stories.

The companies that spend insane amounts of money on a brand, only to end up with a meaningless capital letter in a circle. Or rebrands that change one dark squiggle on a yellow background into a different dark squiggle on a red background.

The right branding is crucially important to any company. It doesn't matter if it's a wee little baby brand ready to hit the market or an ancient, bearded brand who's seen it all, hobbling around on a walking stick. Quality branding can make or break the image, and ultimately the success, of a company. It can be hard, especially when the brand identity is a crucially important element that often requires a tight turn around time. But where do you start? Nailing down your knowledge of the client is a good place to begin.

Don’t fall down the rabbit hole

As a young designer, being too heavily influenced by sexy design pornography websites can be a deadly trap. In this scenario, these resources can be quite dangerous. It’s important to leave a trail of breadcrumbs when diving into the deep rabbit hole of design inspiration.

Instead of getting seduced, try to find your way back to practicality. Make sure you don't get influenced by the allure of a sexy colour palette, and try to resist that satisfied ‘ahhhh’ feeling you get when you see a beautiful execution of negative space.

This is a recipe for ending up with a piece of branding that fits your client's needs like a tiny, pink raincoat on a hippo. It doesn’t. Respond to the brief and not to trends.

Don’t take wild stabs

If you want to design a well-rounded brand that will stand the test of time, do your research. Taking wild stabs in the dark and praying you’ll come up with something will not work. You need to know the ins and outs of the duck's bum if you're creating a brand for a client. Ask questions about the brand's core values, themes, and competitors.

Sometimes it can be useful to ask your client to self-nominate these values. It helps to tap into how they perceive themselves, or at least how they want others to perceive them.

Take a peek over the fence at what competitors are doing too. It can be useful analysing what works for other brands and what doesn’t. Mix this in with a healthy dose of reality and you almost have the basic ingredients you need to move forward. Almost...

Don’t forget to spin the ol' colour wheel

When it comes to branding, the power of colour is both emotional and practical. Colours influence how people view the personality of the brand. On an emotional level, it can affect how consumers feel when they look at a brand. On a practical level, it can help a brand stand out from the crowd.

People have always been fascinated with colour. However, the world of colour is a deep rabbit hole of subtle nuances and inconsistent schools of thought. Colour is one of the most important elements that shape a brand's visual identity.

Put it this way. The right colour palette is the difference between a trendy Fitzroy gourmet burger brand and your stepdad's old lawnmower company that went out of business seven years ago. And this confusion is something no brand wants. This is why it's crucial to be aware of some of the preconceived ideas that colours represent. For example, red is often associated with a sensation of hunger, urgency, or emergency. Whereas blue is associated with clear communication and a sense of clarity.

All in all… branding is crucially important to the success of any brand. Do your research, don’t stab wildly in the dark, and always remember to think about your colour choices.