Colour is one of the ways to distinguish your brand in a crowded marketplace. From the new green and yellow of the McDonald's logo to the opulent purple emblem for Crowne Plaza or Twitter’s distinctive blue, the colour and indeed the shade you choose is a vital element in brand recognition.
Given how colour so radically increases brand identification (which, in turn, boosts loyalty and customer engagement), it’s crucial that colour remains consistent across all expressions of the brand, whether online or in print. Consistent use of colour is therefore essential: imagine spending a considerable portion of your marketing budget only to find the colour is applied differently across media diluting the brand identity.
Brand colour consistency is especially challenging when there are many employees producing brand collateral across different offices worldwide - but there are key ways that brands keep their colour consistent across their communications.
By exploring the following, this article will provide you with the tools you need to effectively manage your brand’s colours in the future.
Why is colour important?
Colour references and how to use them
Colour consistency across different media
How brand management software can guarantee colour consistency
So let’s begin.
1. Why is colour important?
Colours are incredibly important to a brand because they invoke certain emotion and thoughts that then become associated with the brand itself. For example, the colour blue is often favoured by technology brands and represents knowledge, loyalty, intelligence, wisdom - so it’s a great fit for this industry.
Brands also become associated with their chosen colours over time, and changes to this can have an adverse affect. For example, 7up released a drink in a red can a few years ago, despite green and white being synonymous with the brand.
This is a classic example of the importance of colour. Business Insider reported on the drink’s downfall, claiming that the CEO John R. Albers admitted that it was a failure, and the product was pulled.
To ensure your brand colours are the same across all your branded materials, colour should be an integral part of your brand guidelines, and also listed as a Pantone, CMYK, and RGB. This will allow anyone who creates collateral for your brand to know exactly how to match your colours correctly.
There are also certain colours that are on trend year in and out, if you’re looking for any colour inspiration that’s on trend for 2016, then we recommend you take a look at the blog from our sister company Pixel8.
2. Colour references and how to use them
Pantone is a colour referencing system that is recognised around the world. A Pantone reference will be the same in New York as it will be in London and produce the same colour - think of it as a global language for colour references.
There are also other ways of defining colour. CMYK is the colour reference used by printers. This stands for Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Key, which is black. Printers also have an extra drum especially for Pantone references, enabling them to print brand collateral in the correct Pantone. RGB is another way of referencing colours that are made up of the three primary colours, red, green and blue, and these colour references are used to ensure that the eye sees the correct colours when viewing collateral on a screen, whether it be a computer, television or a mobile phone.
3. Colour consistency across different media
The eye processes colour in a different way dependent on what you are looking at. For example, despite a colour on a screen looking the same as it does on paper, our eye is reflecting light instead of refracting - thus we are processing it differently.
For example, just take a look at this Sonos logo that looks as though it’s vibrating when you scroll past. The image isn’t moving, but our eye is perceiving that it is due to the way that it has been designed.
Just like movement can change the perception of the eye, so too can light - which it is important to match your brand colour. RGB (red, green and blue) colours are processed by the eye when light is refracted, other types of branding such as print will require CMYK colours which will be seen the same way when refracted.
CMYK colours can emulate RGB colours on paper, meaning that colours that customers can see on screen will also look the same on paper. However, It’s also vital to reference your CMYK colours as Pantone references when working with print media so that any printer can then mimic the same colour and generate colour accuracy.
A great example of the difference between CMYK and Pantone colour printing can be seen below from The printer.net.
Matching to a Pantone reference enables a printer to emulate the chosen colour accurately - guaranteeing colour consistency.
It’s also important to remember that paper stocks also affect the colour, and this is down to the grade and grain of a paper. Regular bond paper, according to Printer Ink Refills, works perfectly for monochrome printing because it absorbs ink really well. However, there are also special ‘swellable inkjet coated’ papers according to the supplier that are perfect for glossy, photograph-style finishes.
Sports brand Nike understand the importance of Pantone references, and they have a section dedicated entirely to colour in their brand guidelines.
If you take a look at the above from Nike’s brand guidelines, you’ll notice right away that Nike only use Pantone colours to explain what colour their print logo needs to be. They abbreviate it to PMS - which stands for Pantone Matching System, and the colours they use are PMS 8601 or 8624 for vinyl, they also use PMS green 7482.
From this information, Nike can ensure that their branding all over the world uses the correct shade of colour, enabling brand colour consistency no matter what way their customers are viewing their collateral.
How Brand Management software can guarantee colour consistency
Keeping colour, and indeed all of the brand elements, consistent is a trying task. However, brand asset management software assists with this process.
With this technology, brands can create artwork quickly and easily inhouse, and the following features ensure colour consistency:
- Brand colours are locked down, meaning that the right ones are used each time.
- Printing can be automated, and a print test can also be done to ensure accurate printing.
- Brand management software converts any RGB colours on your screen into both CMYK and Pantone references so that your artwork colours are printed correct, despite shifting from screen to paper.
- Any collateral created with brand management software has to be approved internally before being printed or published.
Brand management software works on an international scale and allows users to create accurate branded collateral 24/7. To find out more about our web to print platform Brandit Global then click here. You can also view a video of our software in action below.
There are a range of ways to ensure colour consistency in branding.
Whether its by using Pantone colour references in order to reproduce the same colour output globally, or by considering the medium which your customer will be viewing your brand and adjusting to suit their needs - it’s a task that’s hard to get right, but not impossible.
Successful brands also adopt brand guidelines complete with their colour references to ensure no matter who is trying to reproduce their brand colours, and wherever they are based, it will be accurate.
And finally, of course, there’s brand asset management software which can also help. The platform locks down brand colours, instates approval processes, automates printing choices and also matches any RGB colours to Pantone and CMYK references when sent to print.