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When it comes to your marketing arsenal as a businessperson, one of the greatest workhorses you have is your business card. From prospects to customers, your business card tells the world who you are and what you do. The question is: is it telling the story you want it to?
What Makes an Effective Business Card
What makes an effective business card has changed over time. In 2000, American Psycho taught us that clean, white or eggshell cards were the creme de la creme of business status symbols.
These days, people are turning to color as a way to stand out and be more memorable to contacts.
So, how do you choose when and where to use color or what color to use, for that matter?
There’s nothing quite like getting a new book; UPS knows me by my first name because I order so many! I woke up with this question this morning: is there a correlation between the color of a book’s cover, digital or physical, and its success within its genre? I took a look at several New York Times Bestseller lists to find out.
In the top 5 books in fiction, we see primarily copper, gold, silver, and ochre in spades and accents of lavender and bright blue. Granted, 3 of the 5 are from the same author, which might skew the results a bit, but nonetheless, warm colors and metallics rule the day for this genre. This makes sense as the 3 books by George R.R. Martin all deal with a world of royalty and opulence.
Of the five books present in the nonfiction category, we find a lot of warm colors, again. Here though, they are rich, non-metallic, and darker - much like the subject matter they enrobe. Looking at the covers, we see a range of colors from a memoir done up in nostalgic cream to a first person account of heaven wrapped in joyful yellow to a vibrant orange cover of a tale of scientific discovery. The two historical books in this genre are a sepia-toned look back World War II next to a similarly themed look at an American family’s time in Hitler’s Berlin.
The top selling nonfiction books show us, in color and in subject matter, that real life is a dizzying mix of dark and bright, grand and personal, recollective and modern.
Bestselling Hardcover Graphic Novels
Not quite as bold as comic books meant for children, the best selling graphic novels’ covers present us with a color palette of hues as dark and straightforward as the stories they portray. Whether looking at the modern yellow and gray of the newest X-Men novel or the dingy vintage orange of “Paying for It,” a seemingly seedy account of one man’s experience being a john, all the covers in this category allude to the grittier stories to be found in their pages.
Bestselling Children’s Chapter Books
Arguably the brightest covers of all those so far, it is appropriate that the top 5 children’s books give us saturated primaries, lapping flames, and bright lettering with only one black and white cover. The two books boasting primary colors deal with more simplistic subject matter while the flame-licked cover of “The Throne of Fire” sits squarely in the jewel-toned fantasy world where “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is well-served by the black and white of its cover, conjuring thoughts of long-lost mysteries yearning to be solved.
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If you’re a big film, tv, or theatre buff, you’ve probably witnessed a fair amount of subtext. This principle can be applied to more than just those mediums though! Today, we explore how you use the lens of subtext to look at your website and improve your digital presence by uniting your color scheme with your actual text.
First though, what is subtext? Think about it as the underlying theme or message in a conversation. In film, it can be seen with lighting choices, costumes, a character’s body language and really anything that isn’t apart of the actual dialog. I’ll use the movie Jurassic Park as an example.
Business or fan pages on Facebook are becoming increasingly used by small businesses. They allow for exposure to prospective customers as well as continued communication to current clientele, so their popularity is pretty justified!
If you're looking to create a fan page for your small business, your best bet is to present a polished experience for your fans (and potential fans) by designing a landing page for your profile. It’s a chance for you to tell users what you’re about, what you’re doing on Facebook, and ultimately why they should “like” you. We had the pleasure of creating just such a page for our client, Sterling Finance Company.
There’s no doubt that it’s valuable, but creating that page also presents you with a number of variables to decide on. This post explores several solutions via our favorite topic at COLOURlovers: Color!
Like so many houses on so many home makeover shows, some business’ websites simply need a makeover. Getting a website redesign doesn’t mean that the business itself doesn’t deliver amazing work, they could even be the best in their industry, it just means they aren’t articulating it digitally...yet!
While there are many aspects to a successful makeover, the most important is color choice. Think back to those TV shows. Arguably the largest change in the house with a purple exterior and bright teal accents was the switch to mature, subdued pebble-tones accenting a calm, cool columbia blue. Or the living room done in carnation pink with lemon-yellow daisies transformed to buttercream trim on pale moss walls.
Whether dealing with a house or a website, color is the most visually transformative aspect of any makeover. While content, layout, and user experience are inextricably tied to great digital design (I can’t even begin to explain how important each of those are...), the use of color will be our focus today in examining digital metamorphoses.
From Craptacular to Banktacular!
When we were approached by Central Florida Postal Credit Union to give their brand and their site a facelift, we had our work cut out for us. After initial strategy meetings, we were able to suss out what they wanted their digital brand to say about them: CFPCU is reliable and caring. That meant that a visit to their site needed to be enjoyable, educational, and easy to navigate.
Unfortunately, their old site did not relay that clearly.
While the colors present aren’t the most clash-worthy I’ve ever seen (they’re simply a muted variation of primary colors), those colors say soft, calm harmony as opposed to trusted, attentive, and dependable.
There are some colors, when paired together, that just look good. They make sense, they match. There are also those colors which, put side by side, make your eyes burn. Ok, maybe not actually burn, but you know what I mean.
The question is: why? Why do certain color combinations look serene or exciting and others garish or completely boring? I want to explore the why of color combinations, some of the science and some of the psychology and how you, as a business person, can put those colors to work for you.
Covering Some Color Basics - Intro to Color Theory 101
Before we dive into the “why” of certain color schemes and how to use them to speak to your potential clients, let’s cover some color basics to make sure we’re all on the same page. COLOURlover pros and veterans, feel free to jump to the next section.
For the purpose of this post, I’ll be using the Red/Yellow/Blue color model as the primary colors on our subtractive color wheel (this subtractive wheel is what painters and artists use). For a look at the use of the Cyan/Magenta/Yellow color model used by printers, feel free to take a look at our recents posts discussing RGB versus CMYK conversions.
The Red/Yellow/Blue color model is what most of us grew up learning. Arranged in correspondence with the wavelengths of light, the original color wheel was invented by Isaac Newton. We wrote a complete history of the various color wheels recently, if you are curious and want to know more.
The color wheel that most are familiar with usually looks like this:
Secondary colors on this wheel are made by combining 2 primary colors. Likewise, tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary and a secondary hue.
Source: Eva Williams
The logo design process is intriguing, both from the designer perspective and from a client’s point of view. That said, it is a very different process depending on which vantage point you are looking from!
On the client side, I’m told the whole operation tends to go something like this:
• Meet with the designer
• Designer goes and does some “stuff”
• Poof! Logo options appear!
• If needed, meet with the designer again to go over any changes
• Designer does some more “stuff”
• Poof! I have a logo!
Well, COLOURlovers, I’d like to let you in on what that process looks like for your designer. Because, as any designer will tell you, we’d love to have logo creation be as simple as saying “Poof!” But, it’s a wee bit more difficult than that. I want to peel back the curtain to demystify how we move from a blank page to a logo that works on Blackberries, billboards, and business cards. Go ahead; you’re allowed to peek.
Step 1: Initial Consultation
When a client comes to us saying they need a logo designed, the first thing we do is sit down for an initial chat. In this earliest meeting, we aim to figure out what kind of logo they are looking for.
Do they simply want a logotype or a pictorial mark? How about something that combines both?
I’d like to start with something of a disclaimer. Much of the work we do at Rise is in the digital realm. We strategize, design, and build primarily for the web. We will, however, have clients come to us needing a new business card designed or a logo redesigned or a mailer constructed. What all of those share in common is that they must be able to be seen, not just on a computer screen but printed out. And while we are diligent in making that translation from web to print, every once in a while the conversion is a little bumpy.
So, when that business card comes back looking red instead of magenta or dull blue instead of bright cobalt, what gives? Does the printer not know what they’re doing (assuming you use a professional printer)? Are your electronics scheming against you (sometimes I swear my computer gives me funny looks)? Are your eyes finally giving out on you?
Rest assured, none of these is likely the issue. More often than not, issues at the printer usually have to do with 2 things: the difference between the RGB palette belonging to computer screens and the CMYK palette at the printer and image resolution.
This is an early color photograph taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii as part of his work to document the Russian Empire. Three black-and-white photographs were taken through red, green and blue filters. The three resulting images were projected through similar filters. Combined on the projection screen, they created a full-color image. Source: Wikipedia
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)
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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In only four short days those of us in the United States of America will be celebrating the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Along with all the history, reverence, and jubilation that accompanies such a commemoration, anyone who takes a simple trip to the grocery store will also find themselves surrounded by the familiar and patriotic hues of red, white, and blue. From the bank to the post office to the local shopping center, those three colors will be on full display.
While it is expected that businesses large and small will smatter their storefronts and window displays with the colors of United States’ federal banner, what about the rest of the year? What might those colors convey on non-holidays both solo and together?
As it turns out, the same colors that stir feelings of fidelity to country during federal holidays fare well the rest of the year as well.
Last September we posted a blog on The Colors of the Web. In that article, which analyzed where brands from the top 100 sites in the world fell on the color spectrum, the color red ran a close second to none other than blue.
Red, like blue, is a powerful color, easily identifiable and evocative. As a primary color, it is direct, easy to recognize, and maintains the integrity of the hue across many mediums. Culturally, red elicits strong emotions: in the West it is often the color associated with passion, love, warmth, vitality, and danger; in the East, red is often the color of prosperity and joy.
For businesses, red is a strong choice and one used by corporations large and small. Some well known brands that use red to great effect include: