Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Use Neutral Colors To Enhance Your Message

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect colors for your company logo or your marketing piece—colors that will gently draw your customers in so they can see the many benefits that await them—is there anything else you can do to add that extra nudge? Yes there is. You can learn to utilize neutral colors to augment your message. 

Black is a color of mystery, fear, and sophistication. Because it is an absorption of all other colors as well as their physiological and psychological influences, it can have a whole range of effects. It is often associated with mourning which could be because it represents holding onto all light, all colors, just as mourning is about wanting to hold onto a loved one. However, a great deal of the impact black will have on your design depends on the message being conveyed by the other colors you’ve chosen. 

Using black with green lends a prestigious quality to the emotional response of altruism or cultural responsibility you may be seeking through your use of green as the chief color in your design. Using black with brown may be too depressive because the earthy aspects of brown will draw out the darker psychological effects of black. Black used with blue, however, can lend an air of sophistication to your message. The contrast of black used with the stimulating effect of yellow provides a necessary emotional contrast. It can keep the eagerness associated with yellow in check so that your full message is conveyed. 

White is associated with purity. Purity is interpreted in many ways: clean, fresh, bright, sterile, carefree, innocence, non-threatening. White backgrounds are often preferred to “busy” backgrounds because its purity does not compete with the message of the other colors. However, you have to be judicious when using white against only black. Against black artwork, white is more likely to convey professionalism or sophistication; however, using black text alone on a white background in a marketing piece tends to point toward a lack of creativity, which can negatively impact the customer’s evaluation of your business acumen. 

The purity of white can be used within a design to provide the contrast for highlighting the colors you want to emphasize. Too much white can produce the opposite effect, however. 

Gray is a color of balance, rest, and retreat. Like other neutral colors, it has the ability to add positive or negative influences to your design unless you are prudent in its use. If you are seeking to tone down the negative effects of black or white, gray can be the balancing color you need. It can tone down the darker influences of black, shifting it toward its more sophisticated side. Gray also works well with the strong emotional colors, such as red, yellow, blue, and green. 

As with all the neutral colors, too much can be well...too much! In the last three posts I hope you’ve learned a little about how dynamic colors are. They are filled with their own energies, and your choice of design uses these energies to convey a specific message. Learning more about colors and acknowledging how they impact people both physiologically and psychologically will keep you ahead of your competitors! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Honing Your Message Through Color

Continuing our exploration of the impact of colors on the psychology and physiology of your customer, we are going to examine the secondary colors of orange and green plus brown, which is usually considered a tertiary color. 

With the primary colors of persuasion that we discussed in the last blog post, we found we could use them to energize or relax your customers, stimulate their minds or fire up their emotions. With the colors we’ll discuss today, you can appeal to their sensitive side; you can focus their desires; you can appeal to their desire for stability. 

Green is the color of giving and receiving. It is a color that is readily associated with nature, abundance, and healing. It appeals to one’s feminine side, one’s sensitive nature. It is a color that draws out the friendly, receptive attributes of your customer. Green is the color naturally associated with moving forward: green traffic lights, plant growth. 

If the success of your message depends on your ability through branding and marketing to 
tap into your customer’s desire to be responsible, whether environmentally, financially, or ethically, then green is a color that you may want to incorporate into your design. The impact of the various shades of green depends on whether it has a greater concentration of yellow, which is more stimulating or blue, which is calmer. 

Orange is the color of focused intentions. It is a color that brings people together and gets them talking. It is invigorating. Orange is considered a masculine color because it is often associated with achievement and intellectual activity. 

A secondary color derived from red and yellow, orange uses the creative attribute of red and the progressive attribute of yellow to open your customers up to new ways of doing things. 
If your business or your product is going where “no one has gone before,” orange is the perfect color to encourage the acceptance of change. 

Brown is the color of stability. It is associated with the earth, with wholeness, which are calming influences. It’s a comfortable color. It is often considered a neutral color because it does not evoke high energy reactions that compete with other emotions. It feels safe. When used in your branding materials, it gives the customer a sense of security about you and your products or services. 

Although you might consider brown to be too “drab” for your logo, consider UPS. Their brown trucks are recognizable the world over, and it’s certainly not because of the artwork on them. Rather, it’s because they used color in a simple and powerful way to connect with the primary need of their customers. Their customers need to feel secure about handing their valuables over to UPS to deliver. The color brown achieved its purpose for them. Using a shade of yellow with the brown in their logo served to stimulate their customers’ acceptance of new ideas regarding shipping and continues to do so today. 

If you learn to use it effectively, color can be your most powerful design tool. Whether you are developing ideas for company branding or products, you are actually selling an idea. Color is the way you clothe that idea so that it elicits the reaction you want from your customer. In the next post we’ll talk about the ways in which white, black and gray contribute to your design. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Primary Colors Of Persuasion

Colors do more than just create a visual delight through their placement with each other. Individually they impact us on physiological and psychological levels. When designing your company brand or other marketing pieces, you should keep this in mind when making choices for your designs. 

In the traditional artist’s color wheel the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Let’s discuss how these colors contribute to the impact of your designs. 

Red is the color of creativity and regeneration. It motivates people. It exudes power and confidence. Why do you think our culture has the “red power tie” and the “red carpet events”? Red draws attention, which is why signs and lights wanting us to stop are all red. 

Red is often linked with romance because it is a fiery, energetic color. In one’s environment red can take the emotions to elevated levels to incite arguments, delight, or greater competition, depending on the circumstances. 

When choosing colors for your logo or your products, it is important to be aware of the tremendous energy attached to the color red. It can overpower the rest of your design unless it is used sparingly and with a definite purpose.

Yellow is the color of change and new ideas. It is the color of illumination or enlightenment. 
Considered the most luminous of all colors, it is used as a warning color in many cultures: the yellow traffic light, the yellow hazard signs for example. These uses are warning you that something is changing. 

Yellow is stimulating and opens up the mind to new ideas. Consequently, when designing for a product that is a new approach or disrupts the status quo, yellow can stimulate the consumer into an inquisitive state of mind with an eagerness to learn more about the product. Yellow is preferable to red if you don’t want to be overly aggressive in your message. 

Many fast food restaurants combine the two colors of red and yellow because the motivating effects of red coupled with the eagerness to learn more draws people into their restaurant to check out what they are offering.

Blue is the color of self-worth, resourcefulness and harmony. It is the color associated with calm elements of nature: blue skies, blue water. 
Blue is often linked with relaxation, peace and trust. Consequently, if you want the consumer to feel there is no risk involved with your product, blue is a good color to use. The darker blues imbue feelings of wisdom, whereas, the lighter blues inspire communication and self-expression. 

Blue can help balance the high energies of red and orange color schemes. Blue can be added to most colors to create a different impact. Yellow and blue grab attention because of their contrast. Discover elegance using dark blue with silver; create a crisp, orderly layout combining darker blues with white; bring in impressions of the ocean mixing blue with shades of green. 

Next time I will talk about the colors that will draw out feelings for the vibrancy of life, focused intentions, and stability when used in your marketing designs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is Your Client Asking For Source Files?

Having trouble deciding what to do if clients ask for the original source files for the artwork you designed for them so they can make changes?

There are a lot of opinions out there about this. Some believe that the client doesn’t own the working files, only the end product. Some believe that technically, the client does own the files.

In fact, it comes down to whether your contract clearly states that you own the intellectual copyright to your work as the creator. If it doesn’t, then you are placing yourself in the position of having to defend your position, perhaps in court.

If you failed to discuss this issue in the beginning and now your client wants the files so that in-house personnel can make changes as desired in the future, then it’s possible this is not going to be a long-term client. Here’s where you’ll have to make a customer relations decision. Are the files worth alienating this client? Do you think you will get more work from them?

So, what to do? Deal with the current issue the best you can. THEN, write a contract that handles this issue ahead of time.

•  If you’re willing to give the original source files to your client, then make sure that you state in the contract whether there will be an extra charge for gathering and processing these files and what it will be.

•  If you’re not willing to part with the source files, you have to spell it out in the contract. State that the client is only buying the “final layout” of the design without working files and/or source code. Clarify that the client has exclusive reuse rights of the original design, but you, as the designer, own the full copyright.

The main point here is to think ahead and cover all your bases. Check with a lawyer to make sure that you are protected. It may feel “over the top” in some situations, but it’s better to be prepared. Most contracts include circumstances that never come into play, but when they do, you’ll be glad you took the time to take care of your business.