How True Blue is Your Logo?

When you were a kid, color was simple. Red was red, blue was blue, yellow was yellow. Then you grew up, went to work in the graphics department of a huge corporation and color has turned into a bit of a headache.

Why is getting your blue logo right suddenly making you so blue? Because brand colors matter. In fact, they’re essential to your company’s brand identity. So much so that if they’re off, your brand could suffer an identity crisis.

Today, the problem with keeping brand color consistent is exacerbated by the vast array of different mediums available. No two monitors look alike, no two TV screens, no two color printers or copiers produce colors the same – and it doesn’t stop there.

In print, you have to worry about paper surface and ink and whether you’re using offset technology or digital. To make sure your midnight blue logo stays midnight blue your graphics department has “guidelines”. Keeping to those guidelines can be quite complex.

For starters, you have mediums that emit color (monitors and projectors) and mediums that reflect them (paper and various fabrics and plastics). When you emit color you have to add color, when you reflect, you have to subtract color.

For print, there are color-matching systems you can rely upon that break every color down to cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY). Because not all color pigments absorb evenly into paper and fabrics, you need to add black to the process for consistency. By mixing the colors with the black, you’re subtracting some color to meet standards.

In the digital world, you have Hex colors. Hex doesn’t stand for a spell, but it does refer to a six-digit code and hashtag used to reproduce the exact hues in your logo. It is up to your graphics department to come up with a Hex code to meet your standards. It’s hard but doable. Of course, when dealing with emitted color, you can come close, but you can’t go around adjusting the brightness and contrast controls on every screen in the world. The important thing is that your Hex code limits the variation.

Why all the fuss? Because exact colors convey exact meanings to your brand. For example, in recent years many companies have wanted to appear eco-friendly or green. It turns out that green, while significant, does not convey as much trust in a company’s eco-friendliness as does the color blue. So, as you can see, color colors everything.

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