Tuesday, 17 February 2015 00:00
Colour Theory in Corporate Identity Written by 

In our previous articles we discussed corporate identity (ID), image and the definitions and differences between these before we moved on to how type and fonts are used in corporate ID and logo design.

Missed part 1?  Catch it here: Colour Theory in Corporate Identity

 In this piece I would like to focus a bit on colour selection, and the role it can play in either killing your brand or bolstering it.

Before I even start, it’s important to clarify something – technically, black is not considered to be a colour as it is generally regarded as the absence of colours.White, on the other hand, is a combination of all colours and can thus be considered as a colour. With that technical consideration about the existence of colour behind us, let’s move on.

Colour use in a design can be distinguished into two main categories. There are actually more than just two, but for the purpose of simplicity, we’ll stick to just these two; RGB and CMYK.  - RGB: Red, Green, Blue and CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key {Black)

It is very basic. RGB is a digital colour space, while CMYK is a printing colour space. Meaning, your website is designed in RGB colours, while you will print your business card in CMYK colours. It also means you should be careful when selecting a colour for your corporate ID, as it needs to work in both colour spaces without showing a massive transformation. RGB gives you a bigger and potentially brighter variety of colours whereas CMYK’s selection is more limited and less bright. It literally pales in comparison, so the question worth asking is why we limit ourselves to printing in CMYK if we can design in RGB? CMYK colours consists of mixing different ink varieties together to create a colour, and while it is possible to print in RGB, it is much more expensive to do so. When you commission a design from someone, always check that they are doing it in the correct colour space, or else your colours will come out incorrectly.

A corporate ID consists of no more than three colours at a time, unless the design and market allows it to have more than those. The three colours also need to have a relationship with each other, and cannot be selected at random. Your colour choice will depend on the business identity i.e. a plumber might go for a blue and brown design, while an IT company will opt for a blue, white and silver feel. A business with strong ethics in sustainability or a herbal company will choose different hues of green. Red is the most popular choice for businesses and companies, as it attracts attention, and evokes a psychological reaction such as passion and alertness to it. Blue evokes a feeling of healing and meditation, and as a result is popular to be used by hospitals and other medicinal practises.

When selecting your colours, keep these factors in mind. It is not just about whether you like the colour or not, it also about whether your clients and consumers can associate the colour in relation to what they’re buying.4


More in this category: « Building your Corporate ID

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. *