Perhaps nothing is more single-handedly important to your branding efforts than color. Today’s consumers face more choices than ever before, yet have less time to devote to product comparisons. One of the best ways to develop a lasting connection with your consumers is on an emotional level – and nothing evokes emotion better than color. Furthermore, colors play a huge role in memory recall. It stimulates all the senses, instantly conveying a message like no other method of communication.
Consider the use of color by Fortune 500 brands. UPS “is” brown. Coke “is” red. Caterpillar “is” yellow – and a very specific yellow at that. These corporations understand that the proper use of color is vital to creating and maintaining the right image in the marketplace.
All of which leads to the last installment of my four-part series entitled “A.S.A.P. Branding.” In case you’re new to this series, “A.S.A.P.” refers to the speed and efficiency with which you can successfully gain brand traction using these simple guidelines. The “A.S.A.P.” branding model:
A = Advantage (Content of your Message)
S = Style (Style of your Message)
A = Adjective (Verbal Cue to your Message.)
P = PMS Color (Visual Cue to your Message.)
Please see my previous “A.S.A.P.” articles for a discussion on “Advantage,” “Style,” and “Adjective.”
Pick a PMS – Not Just a Color
Every color – and every shade of color – sends a distinct message. In other words, the more colors you associate with your branding, the more messages you send. As a result, you dilute the distinction of your brand in the minds of your consumers. That’s why it’s so important to choose one dominant color and stick with it.
To ensure consistency in your branding, I recommend you go a step further and choose a specific PMS (Pantone Matching System) color. After all, there’s a reason IBM’s blue is different than Tiffany’s. Cool blue (IBM) is perceived as trustworthy and fiscally responsible, while Tiffany’s lighter blue conveys sentimentality. The trick is to chose the right PMS and remain loyal to it throughout your marketing efforts. This color should appear on all your promotional materials, including your logo, website and product packaging. As much as possible, the PMS you choose should set you apart, work with your industry and image and tie to your brand promise.
Colors can mean different things in different cultures and in different industries. However, studies do suggest some universal meanings. Notice how different shades of the same generic color send different messages:
Red: Dark red is often associated with aggression or passion, while bright orange-red often represents danger. Hot pinks convey energy and excitement. Dusty pinks appear sentimental. Light pinks are romantic.
Green: Deeper values are associated with wealth or prestige. Light greens are calming. Lime green often connotes health and freshness.
Purple: Darker shades evoke mystery or sophistication. Lavender, however, conveys nostalgia and youthfulness.
And so on, and so on. What’s important to note is that every color’s message varies by intensity. The best way to ensure you are getting the exact value of the color you choose is to select a PMS color that you can specify when printing or publishing materials. If you do not own a PMS book, ask a printer to borrow one or invest in one yourself. Pay attention to the emotions different shades evoke in you, and ask others for their opinions as well. Keep in mind, however, that the emotional attitudes of consumers toward the same PMS color can vary by age, gender, culture and socioeconomic status. Make sure you understand the emotional appeal of your brand and find a PMS that best communicates that appeal to your target audience.
It may take some time, but selecting the one right PMS color for your brand is a key element to a sound branding platform. Choose your color strategically and you’ll ensure a bright future for your brand.