Ask The Expert: Bridget Gailey on Color

People always ask when embarking on a branding effort, “How do I choose colors?” Some prefer to go the route of choosing colors they love – after all, it’s my own business, right? I should be able to pick any color I want. But it’s important to remember that you are trying to visually communicate a message. You have to remember to take a customer-centric point of view and design everything to speak to that ideal customer. And colors – consciously and sub-consciously – say a lot about who your company is and more importantly, who your company is for.

In this first Ask the Expert column, I talk to Bridget Gailey of TRAY Creative and Bridget Gailey Design. She and I have partnered on clients, and she is a brilliant and fun designer and consultant who really knows how to execute visually on a strong brand strategy. Whether you need websites, logos, brochures, or packaging, Bridget’s goal is to make the world “stunning and smart.” Her latest venture, TRAY Creative, is all about “social change mareketing”: branding companies who are socially responsible and helping them meet their business goals.

RS: Hi Bridget! Thanks for joining us. How important is color selection to the buying process?

BG: Selecting an appropriate color palette for your business is critical. 60% of the decision to buy a product is based on color. The brain registers shape first, then color, then content, when recognizing or remembering something, like a logo. Think about a well known brand, like Target or UPS, then imagine if you saw the Target logo in blue or a UPS truck that was orange…would you even register it?

RS: What do certain colors mean? Is it really that big of a deal?

BG: Color can evoke strong emotional responses and trigger memories for people. Color also has deep significance with regard to specific meaning. For example, green signifies “go”, money, or nature, while red signifies “stop”, heat, or love. Some meaning is universal, and some meaning is cultural. Sometimes gender or ethnicity can play a role in color perception as well.The bottom line when it comes to color is to be mindful of why you are selecting it and what it will communicate. Don’t just pick your favorite colors. Think about your audience and with whom who you are trying to connect. What colors will resonate with them and evoke the appropriate emotional responses about your business? Also consider the industry you are in and who you want to be within the industry. What colors are your competitors using? Is it more strategic to blend in with them, or to stand out? In what way can color make your business distinctive? If you have a business in the finance industry, maybe you can use green, but because you want to be viewed as more contemporary and friendly, you could go with a lime green or blue green to differentiate yourself.

RS: What other factors should people consider when choosing colors for their business and logo?

BG: Will the colors you choose translate well and consistently across different mediums? Are they too trendy and will they become dated? Are they unintentionally evoking any negative connotations? With a little research on the meaning of color, your customers, and your competitors/industry, you will be able to make a well-informed decision about choosing colors for your company.

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