Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Brand

A Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Brandby Dmitry
One of the key elements of building a strong brand is color selection. Every color has a different feel and various associations. By choosing a color or a combination of colors for your brand identity, you will take on those associations. Colors will evoke certain emotions and feelings towards your brand so it is vital to choose a color that will represent your identity effectively.

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 color alone.

Why Color Matters
If you own a color in your industry, this color will symbolize your product. This can act as a great identifier. For example, if you sell physical goods, your packaging will stand out from the competition. The color will also be recognizable on any promotional media and your logos.

Where to start?
There is a great new tool which can help out with color selection called Cymbolism. It’s an interactive survey of color and word associations. Every page loads a new word, for which you have to select a color you feel best represents it. The results are then aggregated and you can see most popular associations either by color or by word.

To help you select the right color for your brand I’ve aggregated the results from Cymbolism, and also provided examples of logos that use each color: (Click on chart for full view )

These aren’t the top ten words that represent each color, these are just the words that happened to have been entered and processed by Cymbolism and came out on top. Having said this, the sample size is quite large and the selection should give you a decent indication of what a color stands for.

I’ve also included some multi-colored examples at the end. Some brands choose not to associate themselves with one color. Instead of two or three colors, they choose four or more. This represents variety. This makes sense for brands that are platforms or marketplaces as they host vast amount of different applications or goods.

There are also two more colors that haven’t made it on the list: black and white. These are arguably not even colors, and they will go well with pretty much everything you choose. White you probably shouldn’t use because you won’t be able to print the logo on white paper unless the white is used on a darker background. Black is a good complementary color to use and a lot of brands choose to have the text set in black because it is neutral and serious.

How to select your color
Look through the table above for a quick overview of what each color stands for. Some questions to ask yourself:

What color do you like?
What color represents your brand’s personality?
What color suits the characteristics of your product/service?
Color’s aren’t tied to any particular industry — though some may be better suited for some services/products than others. You should aim to pick a color that will represent your brand’s personality best. One that will give your customers the right impression the first time they see it.

You aren’t limited to one color. Some brands like eBay choose to go with many colors to represent variety — but you can also choose a couple of colors that work well together.

Consider differences in cultural interpretations of your color. For example in the Western world, white is considered the color of purity and peace, however, in some parts of Asia white is the color of death. Make sure the color you select will give the right impressions in the markets you’re present in.

At the end of the day, the color you choose should be something you like, not just something you worked out through a formula. The brand colors tell others something about your company, but it is also something you should get behind and enjoy. If you don’t like the colors in your logo, then you won’t very happy seeing it every day on your stationery, your website and your product packaging. Select something that represents your company, but at the same time something that you like as well.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The importance of Branding

Branding is perhaps the most important facet of any business-beyond product, distribution, pricing, or location. A company's brand is its definition in the world, the name that identifies it to itself and the marketplace.

A model may be beautiful, but without a name, she's just "that girl in that picture." Where would Norma Jean be without Marilyn Monroe, or who would imagine Coca-Cola as just a soft-drink manufacturer?

A brand provides a concrete descriptor to customers and competitors alike, a name for a product or service to distinguish it from anything else. Bob may run a hobby shop, but trying to advertise as "The hobby shop a guy named Bob runs down the street a ways" is financial suicide. Each customer will have to describe the shop, who Bob is, and what the shop does every time someone asks about it. This makes the process of recommending a good hobby shop too much work for the average customer, and far too much work for a user looking for hobby shops on the Internet. A customer looking up Bob's hobby shop will have an easier time of it if he or she knows to refer to it as "Bob's House of Hobbies," and the customer can then refer others to Bob's hobby shop by name, increasing the potential advertising exponentially.

Developing a brand involves more than just picking a catchy name and placing an ad in the newspaper-a brand is more than a unique string of letters denoting a particular product; a successful brand is a mnemonic trigger that makes a consumer feel a certain way when the brand is thought of.

For those who drink cola-flavored soft drinks, which is more appealing on a hot day: a cold cola soda, or an ice-cold Coke? Coca-Cola has spent 100 years developing their particular brand of cola-flavored soda as a refreshing beverage and a seminal representation of a market segment. Coca-Cola has used a combination of direct marketing, give-away techniques, and multi-product cross-branding to achieve maximum brand recognition and visibility in not only its immediately competitive market, but in markets as diverse as Coca-Cola branded race cars and house wares.

Brand loyalty is an integral part of building a brand, as consumers usually have a choice of products in the same market segment, and so a successful company will come up with a way to keep consumers re-buying their product or coming back to their location rather than going to a competitor.

These brand loyalty-building efforts may come in the form of coupons, incentives such as many grocery chains' technique of "grocery discount cards" or "loss leaders," meant to draw consumers into the store, where they will hopefully buy products along with the discounted fare at a higher profit ratio.

In exchange for these discounts and grocery cards, many companies collect information about buying habits and average spending amounts, the better to tailor advertisements and better-focus future promotional efforts. Once a consumer is hooked, brand loyalty tends to result in higher sales volume, as well as loyal customers being less sensitive to price changes of their favorite brands (within reason, of course), as well as less sensitive to competitors' incentives. Studies have shown that it takes 5 times as much money to gain a customer as it does to retain one. That's 5 times as much money as could have been spent on other things.

A brand is who your company is, and what it is selling-it is as important as naming a baby, and should require the same amount of effort to develop it, but if done well, can mature into a successful and profitable adult.

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William King is the director of UK Wholesale Suppliers, Wholesale Suppliers and Pakistan Property Portal . He has 18 years of experience in the marketing and trading industries and has been helping retailers and startups with their product sourcing, promotion, marketing and supply chain requirements.

Kelowna Business Coach - Branding Consultant - FloodLight Canada