I like blue. But then again red is nice. And chartreuse is back in style.
Love that one, too.

When it comes to clothing, décor, cars, flowers, and most everything in this world, people love color in all of its shades and combinations.

But when businesses choose a brand color, it’s a more cerebral exercise than you might expect. Color psychology, meanings of color in various cultures, symbology of color when applied to various shapes and forms, emotional connections to color, and color combinations make this decision somewhat daunting. That’s why experienced marketing professionals – and those with particular expertise and knowledge of color – help guide the decision-making process.

It starts with color
From the beginning of brand development, color plays a key role. There are usually colors associated with similar brands or products. For example, many grocery stores utilize green shades to project a sense of freshness and health; consumer research by the Pantone Institute says that red and orange stimulate the appetite.

So it’s important to consider whether a similar color should be chosen so the brand appears to be in the same arena as a competitor or whether the brand should be differentiated through the use of an unexpected color. But how far can a brand stray before consumers no longer see it as a winning option? The last thing color wants to contribute is brand confusion.

Now that’s true blue

Blue has been a perennial favorite among large corporations: IBM (nicknamed “big blue”), HP, Chase, Microsoft, Prudential, Amex, JPMorgan Chase, and the list goes on. Why is blue at the top of the preferred color list? Maybe because we’re surrounded by blue sky –and the oceans, lakes and rivers that sustain life also reflect that same blue sky? Blue grounds us in where we are. And it’s accented by a kaleidoscope of other color choices. It’s not surprising that blue is associated with truth, healing, stability, wisdom, trust, security, and protection.

However, with people seeing red over diminished savings and investments, the color blue has been tarnished by the banking industry. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see refreshed brand marks and color schemes as a result of the negative sentiment in the marketplace. Maybe some fun purples or oranges will be popping up.

Color is serious business

Marketing folks make color decisions every day and don’t take any one of them lightly. So the next time you see a new brand or an old one refreshed, ask yourself why they made the choices they did. You may be surprised at how complicated or simple the answer might be.
Fascinating infographic showing prominent brands of all types associated in a color-wheel format. Well worth the click-through. http://mashable.com/2010/09/16/colors-of-the-web-infographic/

Excellent resource for current trends in color and much more at www.Pantone.com  (No, it s not the hair product company–that’s Pantene)

Photo credit: PureBackLove.com Eva DiMartino, Flickr