Using colors to make a difference

Did you know brands trademark their colors so as to ensure that they can’t be used by competitors within the same industry? Tiffany Blue, Target’s red, Caterpillar yellow, Cadbury Purple or Carolina’s blue are all colors that are trademarked within their respective industries. That’s just how important colors are for any branding process and therefore it is vital to dig deeper into the quintessence of ‘Color’.

Colors are critical to the success of any design. Colors create ideas, they express emotions, they communicate and they even spark interest. They are integral to the designing process and assist throughout it. A great color scheme can enhance your design by manifolds while a poor color scheme can lead the creative to misinterpretation. Every color has a unique meaning and this is why colors are also indispensable in building a brand identity.

Every color that you see around can be described via three essential elements: Hue, Saturation & Value. It is just the right usage of these three rudiments that pave the way for a good design. Let us look into them one by one. Hue is the basic color that you are looking at and is as simple as red, green, blue, yellow etc. The Saturation on the other hand, tells us the intensity of the hue that in simple terms makes the color appear light or dark. Lastly, the Value of colors talks about the brightness of the color. There are two terms to define value – Tint and Shade. A Tint is a brighter version of a color, it is mixed with white. On the other hand, shade is a darker version of a color, it is mixed with black. Here are a few examples of colors and their breakdown in terms of the three elements of Hue, Saturation and Value.

Hue, Saturation and Value

Now that we have covered the basics of colors, we must understand that there are three reasons why designs fail. First, a design lacks clarity if it has too many colors. It is just not appealing enough. Secondly, too much saturation can ruin a good creative. If every color is set at its highest intensity, the overall design is blinding. Lastly, another mistake a designer can make is not using enough contrast. While pairing colors together, it is essential to have enough contrast. In fact, one interesting way to check the degree of contrast in any design is to make the image black and white. As soon as you remove hue from the equation, all you are left with is value and saturation and then it is easier to make adjustments.

Saturation Example
How saturation makes a difference
Contrast Example
Understanding contrast

The right usage of colors can help brands in establishing positive positioning and communicating appropriate emotions. Colors have therefore been rightly associated with industries owing to the emotions or feelings they spark. As intelligent designers, it is recommended to understand the brand emotions and then create a mood board with the brand’s colors that are apt for the brand.

There is a reason why successful brands use the colors that they use and make these colors a part of all their communications. Therefore a detailed understanding of colors is critical ensure the effectiveness of the role that they play in the brand you build.  

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