Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding the perfect color, part of Color for Design and Art.
- I've got a three-part formula that I want to share with you. It's a formula designers can use to choose just the right color for a client's logo, their brochure, a website, whatever. So here's the formula. Look for a color that connects with your client's target audience, doesn't look like colors being used by your client's competitors, and expresses what your client makes or does. Now, before I say anything else about it, notice how this formula doesn't say anything about you, personally, loving the color that you come up with or even that the president of the company that you're working for loves the color.
I mean, it is nice when those things happen, and they do sometimes, but it's really not what choosing a color for a client is all about. A client's color is about the client. It's also about the three things we just talked about: connecting with the client's audience, coming across as original, and representing the client's product. So, with my three-part formula in mind, here's how I approach the job of choosing a color or a set of colors for a branding project.
I start by asking my client to tell me everything they can about the people they want to connect with. I also ask them for a rundown of a media that these people are interested in. Then I take a good look at the websites, the magazines, and the packaging those people are attracted to. I acquaint myself with their color preferences, while I'm at it. Then I quiz my client on their competitors so I can google these companies and find out what kinds of colors they're using for their branding. That way, I can infer something that will stand out uniquely from the crowd, and I also make sure to do this to avoid the possible embarassment of inadvertently choosing a color that's already being used by a company right down the road from my client.
It could be a company that offers a similar product. Once I've learned about my client's target audience and their competition, then I get to work selecting a specific color choice, or a set of choices for their branding, or for whatever other kind of work I'm doing for them. It's at this point where I just need to sit down and do some good old-fashioned, straight-up designer-style right-brained thinking. This is the kind of serious contemplating that you do to get the look, the feel, the purpose, and the flavor of the product or service that your client offers, and to communicate it through color.
Then I start looking for color choices that do these things effectively. This is the kind of work, really, that being a designer is all about. I should add a footnote right here that says that yes, most times, you should look for a color that fits the look and the feel of what your client makes or does, but every so often, it's a way out there color choice that might work even better. Say you're working for an industrial tool manufacturer, and they go with a bright pink for their corporate color.
The bright pink, because it's so unexpected, it actually becomes a really useful and integral part of their branding. What else? Well, be practical. Be sure to take stock of all the ways your branding color might be used in the real world. So ask yourself, will this color need to stand out against certain dark, light, or visually busy backdrops? Or will you maybe want it to blend in with a certain visual environment? Find out if the color will need to get along well with other colors that are already in place for whatever reasons.
Things like this, they might not always be easy to do, but they're really also not supposed to be all that difficult, especially if you remember that it's just a matter of finding a color that appeals to your target audience, something that stands out from the crowd, and a color that expresses what needs to be expressed.
Primarily aimed at designers and illustrators, the course leans heavily toward digital tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but concludes with some challenges using real-world media (inks and paints!), so members can get a solid understanding of mixing colors and what tools and combinations work best.
- Navigating the color wheel and color vocabulary
- Why a color's value is so important
- RGB vs. CMYK vs. spot
- Finding the perfect color
- Working with grays and browns
- Building a color palette
- Borrowing hues for palettes
- Establishing color hierarchies
- Fixing color problems
- Altering color in photos and illustrations
- Using texture with color
- Painting for learning and fun