The Brand Name Game (and the Science of Brand Colours)

Think you can recognize a brand using only its corporate colours? With a strong brand it is entirely possible. Each colour square below represents a company. Can you guess which company is represented by which colour square? The solutions can be found at the end of this article.

Colour Solutions

Seeing is believing 

Every day we are exposed to a barrage of visual stimuli. We are guided by traffic signs. Our buying decisions are influenced by supermarket ads. We absorb so many messages across so many types of media – consciously and subconsciously. Ultimately, whether these messages reach us and stick will depend on many factors. Colours play a central role here.

Colours influence us and they certainly have a greater impact and send stronger signals than typography alone. In contrast to the font, colours are also “understood” by most people. There have been countless articles about the theory of colour and the effects of colours. Despite some differences in how people from different cultures perceive colours, at least in the so-called West, red stands for vitality and energy, but also for fire and aggression. White symbolizes purity and innocence. Blue inspires confidence. All of these operate on a subconscious level.

Brand colours: Strong colours, strong brand?

A particularly eye-catching colour, red, is used by many companies (including yours truly). This in turn means that the colour red can’t by itself deliver a fully formed brand statement. Famous brands like Vodafone, E.ON, Ferrari and Coca Cola, could not solely rely on a corporate colour.

But in combination with other elements, each respective brand logo creates a recognizable appearance that has sufficient autonomy. If you look at the the powerful branding of Coca-Cola, it demonstrates, among other things, that a single colour combined with a familiar white band – the so called “Dynamic Ribbon Device” – is sufficient to clearly identify the brand.  Two colours. For Coke, that’s all it takes. The company doesn’t always need to reproduce the actual brand logo itself – a sign that the identity is particularly strong before branding.

Find your niche

Colours play the central role in relation to the branding of a brand or a company. If you can occupy a colour or colour spectrum that clearly connects the observer to the sender, then your brand is off to a very good start. I recently discovered that clients tend to “try things out.”  So the colour will quickly be “somewhat refreshed” in the logo. Throwing the old colours out with a corporate re-brand can often cause more harm than good. It puts subconscious recognizability on the line. Design must be adaptable, but the challenge is to not get lost in the randomness. Re-branding is possible without the loss of identity.

Who knows why the Facebook logo is blue? The answer: Mark Zuckerberg has red-green colour blindness and the colour blue is for him simply the most clear and true. The colour blue symbolises trust and reliability, which, in this example, represents a beautiful form of “blue-washing.” Would Facebook have more than 1 billion users today if the logo and website page were bright red, neon green or pig pink? We will never know.

*See below for the colour matching solution to the Brand Name Game:

Branded Color Solutions