Consistent color is your first step to  communicate your brand. As I started my day in Evernote (my favorite productivity app), I followed a link to their Marketplace. There they have an assortment of beautifully designed goodies which frankly are a bit rich for my taste. But when I saw they have a shirt in the distinctive Evernote green I paused.  And then, avid/rabid Evernote user that I am, I bought it.

But this is not a post about how my favorite color is green (which, okay, it is). This is a post about the importance of choosing a reproducible color for your brand.

Green is green, right?

The Evernote logo and UI prominently feature a very particular shade of green, and the marketplace features products that use that exact same shade. As a big Evernote user, any time I encounter that color (which doesn’t happen too often–it’s a very specific shade of green), the first thing I think of is Evernote. Good marketers on that team!

By now you’re probably reading this and saying, “Well, Duh! Use color as part of your brand. Tell me something I don’t know. ”

Yeah, but the thing is: green isn’t just green. It is a specific RGB or hex value online, which corresponds to a specific CMYK value in print, and a specific PMS value for merchandise. There are as many shades of green in the world as there are… I don’t know. Let’s just say there are six hellalillion shades of green. What the Evernote people did was choose a shade which is not only distinctive, but which they can reproduce electronically on the web and in their apps, and in real world print pieces and in merchandise. This is because whether it is expressed in RGB, CMYK, or PMS–it is the same shade of green. And because of their great marketing, I’ll forever think of it as Evernote Green.

[EDIT: When I went to grab screenshots for this article I realized they didn’t do their color-matching as exactly perfectly as I say in this post: they use some other shades of green here and there. But let’s let that slide, okay?]

Color communicates your brand

When you choose a color for your brand, making it a color that is very exact and unique is a good thing; but not at the expense of being able to match it perfectly all the time.

For you do-it-yourselfers: Jump into Photoshop or Gimp or whatever graphics software you use, and start a new doc. Draw a square and fill it with the color you want to use for your brand. Next go to the color chooser, select your color, change between color models (CMYK, RGB, hex, PMS, etc.), and record the closest matches. You could also look on the HTML color-safe palette and find the closest match (I like Visibone for referencing anything having to do with web stuff–they sell STUNNING reference cards, but rout around a bit and you’ll find a download of the palette). Not finding close matches? Shift the hue a tiny bit and try again.

The image below shows the result of examining the green from the Evernote logo.  The key thing is that there is a PMS value that is very close to their chosen color.

 

In the end you might find that specifying a color for your brand that is reproducible in all the color models means having to shift the shade a few values from your first choice. But the next time you go to embroider your logo on a bag and are told you must specify your thread color in PMS, you’ll be glad you compromised, because your merchandising projects will better communicate your brand by hitting the exact shade of  your brand’s color. Yes, it matters.

Still trying to choose a good color? Take a look at the infographic Color RIO: It’s All About Psychology”.  Also see this Usability post about choosing color.

Moral of the story

In order to for your color to really communicate your brand, the way the Evernote green does, you must consistently use it everywhere. Choose a color for your brand that is meaningful to you and that you love, but take the extra step to choose the most easily reproducible shade of that color that you can.

And as an extra note: the three colors for which this is the most difficult are purple, gray, and teal.

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