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.
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.
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.
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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