The truth about brands, colors and fonts

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Logos, color, and fonts help build a strong brand identity
Logos, color, and fonts help build a strong brand identity

Use color and typography to create lasting visual impact

There are many factors that contribute to a brand identity. An effective brand identity is distinctive, appropriate, graphic and simple in form. An impactful concept is usually behind an effective brand identity, and it communicates the intended strategic message. A brand identity should be able to be printed at any size and maintain its impact across all media. A successful brand identity boils down to several essential elements: color, typography and a powerful visual concept that all work together to communicate a brand strategy.

Psychology of color (symbolism)

The mind subconsciously synchronizes color with a feeling. While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of energy and enthusiasm. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Color meanings (theory)

Color surrounds us. We see it and are hard-wired to respond. Color offers an instantaneous method for conveying a meaning and message. It is a powerful nonverbal form of communication, and the subliminal messages we get from color shape our thoughts. 

Understanding and using appropriate colors will reinforce an emotional offering and message.

  • Red: passion, energy, stop, vitality, love, blood
  • Yellow: joy, intellect, caution, youth, clarity
  • Green: Fertility, money, healing, success, growth
  • White: perfection, purity, wedding, clean, virtue
  • Blue: knowledge, tranquility, calm, peace, cool
  • Black: fear, negativity, death, evil, secrecy
  • Purple: royalty, wisdom, spirituality, imagination
  • Orange: creativity, invigoration, unique, energy
  • Gray: neutrality, uncommitted, uncertain

Color your brand world

Over time, an identity color may become as important as the brand. Just look at the success of the “purple pill.” Taking advantage of color sometimes means daring to be different. The importance of color and how it relates to the target audience is a vital part of creating a memorable brand identity. Engaging the audience through color will create an emotional and lasting impression, which will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

Typography: what's in a font?

The importance of typography

Along with color, typography is a vital element in a brand's identity and is considered an art form. It gives the target audience their first impression of the brand. However, the power of typography is often overlooked. It can easily engage the audience to relay a message or turn them off, leaving the message to never be heard. It can have a modern or traditional feel. It can be conservative or artistic. It can be exuberant or reserved. The options are endless. The brand identity typeface is going to have an influence on the audience and assist in creating the first and lasting impression.

Effective typography

The key is to successfully balance an eye-catching font with one that is easy to read.

This simplistic approach also carries over into the typography. Often, the most memorable brand identities are the ones that are basic but unique.

Typographic Classification

  • Humanist: calligraphic forms; e.g. Centaur, Verona
  • Old Style: refinement of calligraphic forms; e.g. Bembo, Garamond, Caslon
  • Transitional: share features of Old Style and Modern: e.g. Baskerville, Fournier, Bell
  • Modern: heavy contrast; e.g. Bodoni, Modern, Walbaum
  • Slab Serif: heavy, square-ended serifs; e.g. Rockwell, Memphis, Clarendon
  • Sans Serif: without serif; e.g. Grotesque, Helvetica, Univers
  • Script: cursive; e.g. Palace Script, Young Baroque
  • Graphic/Decorative: decorative fonts; e.g. Poster Bodoni, Hobo, Dom Casual
  • Digital: digital forms; e.g. Oakland, Isonorm, Modula

Type and color interaction

Typography and color can interact dynamically in many ways to attract attention, emphasize a certain point, reinforce impact and recognition, create a mood or strengthen the identity. The primary consideration when combining type and color is readability. Contrast is key in maintaining a high degree of readability between type and the surrounding background. The interaction of type and color is a powerful tool in achieving a brand identity with lasting visual impact. 

Creating Visual Impact

Keep it simple 

Simplicity is the key. But it should not be simplistic. Successful identities feature something unexpected or unique, without being “overdrawn.” The purpose it not to reveal as many attributes as possible but to have a single focus. The single focus or composition is critical in making a brand identity stand out and be easily recognizable, versatile and memorable.

Make it distinctive and memorable

No one stares at and analyzes brand identity—except for maybe the FDA. They just “see” it, they do not “look” at it. A brand identity must be memorable and make a quick association to the brand within seconds. The inclusion of a relevant, distinctive symbol or icon will enhance the brand identity message retention and recall. It should be artistically balanced and convey a message at a glance. The use of color, line density, shapes and less-used fonts will create a solid memorable impression—simple, yet with enough personality to entice and appeal to the audience.

Avoid common symbols and trendy effects

Common overused symbols, trends and effects come and go and ultimately turn into clichés. This could make your brand identity message appear old and obsolete.

A well-designed identity should be timeless, and this can be achieved by ignoring the latest design tricks and gimmicks.

Establishing a lasting and memorable brand identity is no easy task. But, by using consistent colors and typography, you can create an impactful visual campaign that effectively communicates brand attributes at a single glance. The intent is to be distinctive and different—don't play it safe.

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