Branding: Bland, Boring And Blue

33% of the top 100 global brands are blue. Brands like P&G, IBM, GE, HP, Ford and Samsung all use blue as their primary brand color. It’s a pretty good color. Blue connotes a company that is trustworthy, established and secure. It’s the color of big, old and professional.

As a result, a disproportionate number of small-to-mid size companies default to using blue in their identities too. They assume blue is a better branding choice, because it signals they are like the big, established brands. Blue is perceived as more professional. That may be true, but blue is boring!

What is it like to work with your firm?

Is your company outgoing, energetic, fun, serious, sophisticated, intellectual, quirky, stuck up, or something else?

Color demonstrates personality. It signals what your brand is all about, and what it’s like to work with your firm. Blue connotes one set of emotions, but there is a whole spectrum under the rainbow to choose from. For example yellow signals positivity, energy and creativity. Orange is a color that is fun, playful and irreverent. Black is prestigious, sophisticated and premium – think Gucci. When chosen wisely, color can be a very impactful aspect of your brand identity.

Choose colors that demonstrate your company’s personality, and what your clients experience. Use color to signal what it is like to work with your firm.

Paint a picture – literally

Color goes beyond your logo and letterhead. Try to draw it out in your imagery and all the visual aspects of your brand.

One of my favorite examples of the use of color is in Shift Coaching’s identity. I had the opportunity to advise the firm in their rebranding in 2009. Shift wanted to stand out in a cluttered field of professional coach firms serving tier 1 companies and government agencies. Most of their competitive landscape uses forest green and navy blue in their identities, but Shift Coaching stands out with a bright energetic palette of pink and pastel colors.

Sue Pahl, the President of Shift Coaching, commissioned a local artist, Gaia Orion, to paint a picture that articulates the journey of client and coach. The painting really resonated with Sue and her team, and became the foundation of their brand identity. They scanned the image and sliced it up to create the visual elements of their website, marketing collateral and coaching materials. They even explain the image and its story on their site.

Shift Coaching stands out in a cluttered environment by showing the firm’s personality in its colors and imagery. They are bright, energetic and fun to work with, but they’re also very caring. Their palette indicates what it’s really like to work with their firm.

What does your palette say?

Take a step back and look at your brand. What are your dominant colors? Do they signal what it’s really like to work with your firm?