This post discusses a simple but highly effective approach that can significantly improve the visibility of your brand. Big global brands take full advantage of colour use but many smaller businesses fail to grasp and make effective use of this attribute.
The power of colour
Colour is a hugely powerful and emotive in all aspects of life. Colour is used all around us every day to warn us, direct us, define our mood and re-enforce our perceptions. We all understand why a fire engine is painted red and what a blue flashing light means. For business branding and marketing, colour is just as powerful. The best brands really understand the importance of colour to support the visibility of the brand and messaging.
“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.
Source: CCICOLOR – Institute for Color Research
The quote above can also be found in this article on the same theme along with a number of other very interesting facts.
Take the colour test
As a bit of fun take the list of colours below and write a brand name next to each one. See how many match my answers at the end of this article. (No peeking!)
- Red & Yellow:
- Green & Black:
It will be interesting to see how many of your answers match mine, but actually, that’s not the point. After all, colours are not owned (with a few exceptions) by brands. Colour is not the only aspect of establishing a successful brand identity. However, I would be more surprised, nay astonished if you could think of an answer for each. The point is simply to emphasise how important colour is to establishing brands in the mind of customers.
The lessons for small business
So how is this applicable to my small local business? Well, you may have a much smaller number of actual and potential customers but the rules are just the same. If you can secure your colours in the mind of your customers the recognition of your brand and its message will be amplified. Now it’s important to make clear that colour on its own is not a winning marketing strategy. The importance of your message to the customer and your capacity to deliver on your promise remain the key factors. Painting your falling down wooden fence a consistent shade of red isn’t going to stop it being ineffective at keeping the chickens in the field. In fact, it can have the opposite effect and just get your ineffective fence noticed more by your neighbours… (Slash customers!)
BUT there are several key benefits to using colour consistently with effective messaging:
- Increased recognition of your brand.
- Increased engagement and trust.
The common colour mistake small business make
This is really obvious but happens so much in my opinion. Inconsistent use of colour! Most business owners understand they need a logo to define their business for marketing purposes, but few consider the application. Consistent presentation of your identity and use of colour has so many benefits. It simplifies the time, effort and money required to deliver your message. Essentially because there is no debate to be had on the issue of presentation style or colour. This allows you to focus on getting that marketing message just right. Sadly so many small business fail to take control of their presentation style and colour use. This leads to marketing material that may be effective in its messaging, but which is not embedding your brand recognition. It will also inevitably lead to increased costs in creating materials as the presentation of colour is debated each time a task is undertaken.
The 5 simple rules for small business colour use
Before you read my list I should make something clear. This list defines a simple approach to using colour in your brand. There are plenty of examples of brands that use colour in complex and creative ways. However, the more complex the use of colour the more time and money it takes to manage, so if you’re a small business try the following:
- Define a simple colour palette for your business
- Ensure your logo reflects your use of colour
- Use colour consistently in all your marketing
- Document your colour palette and ideas for use of colour in your business and across marketing. Share this across your business and with those that apply your brand.
- Be consistent!
Clearly, the use of colour by some brands is very much more complex. There are times when you will need to adjust your approach to colour. Sub-brands or developing individual product brands are just a couple of examples. But for a small start-up or existing business keep it simple. Look around you and ask yourself what your brand colour or colours are? Now ask yourself (and others) if your customers would give you the same answer? Look at your marketing material and ask yourself does it all look as if it comes from the same business? If the answers no then I can be pretty sure it’s cost you more money than it should have. And probably missed an opportunity to embed your brand in your customer’s mind.
Colour by itself won’t make you successful. But it will help!
This is my list (remember I’m UK based so my answers are biased that way and it’s all subjective to your own experience).
- Red: Coca-Cola
- Orange: B&Q
- Yellow: AA
- Green: M&S
- Blue: Boots
- Purple: Cadburys
- Red & Yellow: McDonald’s
- Green & Black: Starbucks
- White: EBAY