Mundanity. Uniformity. Bland.
Gary Ross’ 1998 film Pleasantville condemns these very traits through the unprecedented dispersal of colour in a black-and-white world, making certain characters and locations boldly stand out. Why am I summarising this? Because the film urges us to appreciate the emotive connotations that colour brings to everyday life, and the tragedy that would be the world if it was void of it.
Without a comprehensive colour scheme, your brand risks being bland and mundane; a modern-day brand tragedy.
GIVE COLOUR MORE CREDIT
Decoding colours can be difficult. It’s almost a never-ending spectrum, and unless you are a Pantone Swatch artist, you may find yourself swamped in a confusing series of colour codes with littles means of escape.
Colours can be categorised as warm-toned or cool-toned. Warm tones typically are reds, oranges and yellows. Cool tones are often the other end of the colour spectrum – greens, blues and purples. However, it is possible to have warm-toned shades of blue and cool-toned shades of orange.
Generally, colours with a warmer tone are often more appealing to the eye as they tend to advance on their own. They can be associated with more passionate emotions such as love, anger and sensuality – the go-getters of the colour world. Cool-toned colours are more inclined to retreat, evoking calm, mystery and peace. They are more passive in comparison to their warmer counterparts.
Colours are hugely relevant in communicating your brand’s message. Colour association happens instantaneously within the brain. It is likely to be one of the first things, if not the first thing, that your audience will notice about your brand. Consider the emotive qualities and meanings that will propel your brand, not detract from it, when creating your Style Guide.
MAKE YOUR MARK
Different colours do different things. Some advance, some retreat. Some colours work best in conjunction with others. There’s a lot of complex design jargon out there that aims to explain the way colours interact, but all you need to know are the basics.
Complementary colours – Colours that complement each other aesthetically.
Contrasting colours – Colours that oppose each other on the colour spectrum. Also, those with high levels of contrast e.g. navy blue paired with a pale pink.
Analogous colours – Colours that are of the same colour family (e.g. blue) paired together in different shades and tints, creating a harmonious composition.
It is important give yourself a limit. Too many colours can be distracting, whilst too few can be boring. Be selective – start by creating a warm-toned colour palette and separately, a cool-toned palette. Your choice of colours should consider the message you wish to convey to your audience and the emotions they evoke.
As I mentioned before, the colour spectrum is as extensive as our universe. Approaching a project with open eyes and an open mind allows the best creativity to flow. Keep pairing colours differently – sometimes the most absurd creations in the mind turn into effective design solutions once refined on paper. Whether you’re in a design team or a budding graphic designer, experimenting and embracing the fear of the wacky will help you to discover daring colour combinations to put your brand in the direct line of your audience’s vision (and your creative agency’s).