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The Pros and Cons of Following Color Clichés

The Pros and Cons of Following Color Clichés


We’ve all seen it. We go for a visit to the doctor and the walls are a lovely, quintessential pale mint green. We go to grab a burger and milkshake somewhere and the decor boasts the archetypal red, black, white, and chrome (I’m looking at you, Five Guys, Checkers, McDonald's, Steak ‘n Shake, and In-N-Out Burger!). We sit down with a banker, lawyer, or sales representative and are surrounded by dark wood and conventional creams.

(right column: medical-logos.com & logodesignteam)
its_comcastic.Dental_Floss

It seems that every industry has its color cliches, its norms. The question for up-and-coming businesses is whether to conform to these colorful essentials or break tradition and stand out from the crowd. Both options have their positives and negatives.

Branching Into a New Color Palette

There are certainly benefits to thinking outside the corporate color box. Not least of which would be that a new business would be easy to distinguish from others in its niche.

If every other beachside hotel in Florida makes use of pale sea-foam greens, muted oranges, and faded pinks, an upstart oceanfront bed and breakfast might do well to opt for fully saturated sunrise hues. And if every dentist office in the tri-state area chooses iconic mint green for its soothing effects, perhaps the new dentist in town could stake its claim through calming lavender tones. As we’ve established, most businesses fall neatly in either a red or blue pile. So, going for anything outside those two hues instantly lends itself to differentiation and notice.


The_Inn_at_Key_WestBridge_HotelWorld_Quest_Resort

 


Using Stereotypes to Your Advantage

Any small business owner will tell you that just getting their company doors open is a feat unto itself. And that doesn’t include branding, colors, or any of the things that us creatives consider fun. It’s just filing all the appropriate paperwork and jumping through the various hoops and red tape associated with opening a business. It makes sense then that so many businesses tend toward the colors already in use in their field. After all, those businesses have already gone through the branding gauntlet and come out successful on the other side.

Another aspect to the trend towards the familiar comes in catering to the needs of the consumer. If dark blue tends to be the color of financial institutions, customers come to expect it. When they enter a business exhibiting the colors common to a particular business, it reinforces for the customer that they’ve found exactly what they were looking for.

Root_of_all_goodSterling_Financial

So, what do you think, lovers? Is it worth the risk to stand outside the substantial kingdoms of red and blue or is paying homage to the tried-and-true hues a better business decision? Are there any color cliches in the small business world that I didn’t talk about?


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11 Comments
Showing 1 - 11 of 11 Comments

Shannon Crabill

Personally, I would take the risk and push the boundaries of what colors are expected in a given industry. At the same time however.....everyone used them because they work. There is so much psychology evolved with color choices that we cannot go into brand development without thinking carefully about what the colors we choose say to everyone else. Great article!

stephanbarrett

Thanks, Shannon!

I definitely understand what you mean. You can certainly make a case for using industry standard colors, especially when budgets don't allow for explorations in color otherwise.

Shannon Crabill wrote:
Personally, I would take the risk and push the boundaries of what colors are expected in a given industry. At the same time however.....everyone used them because they work. There is so much psychology evolved with color choices that we cannot go into brand development without thinking carefully about what the colors we choose say to everyone else. Great article!

HeringDevotee

I say go for the industry standard's compliment......you can use the standard as a subtle accent, while achieving the uniqueness that will help set your business apart. Hopefully the accents would be enough to create a subliminal association with the industry, and the compliment would promote harmony. :)

Faeleia

well. if i ever open my own business it's going to have a multi coloured glitter logo.HA! one up. It's also going to be called Edward's merchandise store >_>

Nah. i'm not that into twilight. but you know that idea probably would work. perhaps if i sold diamonds... BLIND PEOPLES EYES!!

margaretalmon

Just about every bank I've ever had an account with used blue, but I love ING's orange--and it makes me happy every time I log in. Of course, I love orange, so that's defintely a factor.

HeringDevotee

margaretalmon wrote:
Just about every bank I've ever had an account with used blue, but I love ING's orange--and it makes me happy every time I log in. Of course, I love orange, so that's defintely a factor.


~ yay for complimentary colors!!! :)

stephanbarrett

HeringDevotee wrote:
I say go for the industry standard's compliment......you can use the standard as a subtle accent, while achieving the uniqueness that will help set your business apart. Hopefully the accents would be enough to create a subliminal association with the industry, and the compliment would promote harmony. :)


That's a great way to be unique while staying within the same family of colors.

stephanbarrett

margaretalmon wrote:
Just about every bank I've ever had an account with used blue, but I love ING's orange--and it makes me happy every time I log in. Of course, I love orange, so that's defintely a factor.


ING definitely isn't shy about using orange. It's a very unique color for in the financial space!

drewbrookstf

I have found a good TV which I am thinking of purchasing. It is the SonicView N2600W.
Mizulean

Ramgopal

This post reminds me that we typically recommend people to look at good print ads. The companies usually use their logo and company colors there. Their ad agency is sure to ensure harmony and this forms a instant resource for presenters when designing presentations.

sundancer

That was a good article! Maybe a business could borrow one or two colors that are tried and true in that field and then add one or two non-traditional colors to spice it up and make it their own unique company.

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