Don’t Make Color an Afterthought

As a marketer, you understand the importance of branding. Color is a tool in your branding toolbox to help express brand attributes and create emotional connections.

CMYK style
Image by Mitra Mirshahidi- via Flickr

Many small businesses assume color is important only to large corporations. But choosing colors is reflective of any company’s unique value promise, no matter its size.

IBM maximizes its unique relationship with the color blue. It’s the primary color on the corporate website and is used in all presentations, on marketing materials, on signage, and in the names of many of its products and programs: Blue Gene, Deep Blue, Extreme Blue, etc.. Although blue is the most common logo color for American corporations, it’s probably more often associated with IBM than with any other brand.

Like IBM, some organizations are so consistent and steadfast in their use of color that they practically own that color in our minds. Think Home Depot, National Breast Cancer Foundation, UPS, and Target.

Your website — like your business cards, stationery and other materials — is just one of many marketing tools on which you should use color appropriately and consistently.

To make the most of your color, follow the five rules listed below. Ensure the color you choose is…

1. Accurate. Become knowledgeable about what different colors mean. Choose a color that expresses your brand attributes, and avoid choosing a color just because it is your favorite.

2. Relevant. Ensure it’s relevant and compelling to your target audience (the people who are making decisions about you). Test your color choice with your target audience before committing.

3. Culturally correct. Make sure it works in all parts of the world where you plan to work or do business. If one of your brand attributes is “international,” be sure your color doesn’t offend people in various cultures.

4. Applied consistently. Always use the same shade and hue. Know the PMS, RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key) formulas for the specific shade you choose.

5. Repetitive. Feature your personal-brand color on all your personal-brand marketing tools (website, business cards, marketing materials, etc.).

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