August 6, 2015

Color matching tips to ensure visual identity consistency on brand touchpoints


Are the colors in your visual identity consistent for all customers? Not sure? Well, remember the “Great Dress Debate” over colors – white/gold or blue/black – earlier this year? Colors matter.

Executing consistent brand colors for the visual identity during a brand implementation is critical. Yet, on almost every project we’ve done, there were reworks and delays to get the visual identity right. Why? It’s hard for in-house branding teams and/or their brand design firms to plan ahead for every lighting, sizing and color scenario if they’ve never done a rebranding before. Customer touchpoints come in all shapes and sizes and appear throughout a company’s sales channels. For retailers, that could mean outdoor and indoor signage, wayfinding, menus, touchscreens, delivery vehicles, kiosks, private label merchandise, marketing materials, websites, mobile apps, and more.

The following are a few tips to keep visual identity colors consistent:

  • Environmental Factors: Take into account where the customer touchpoint resides. If it’s an outdoor touchpoint, like a sign, test the brand colors outside in direct and indirect sunlight. If the visual identity appears on service vehicles, take your control sample colors outdoors and put them on a vehicle.
  • Distance: Look at the colors from the appropriate distance, one the target audience will use. If an exterior sign with your visual identity is elevated, bring a ladder and a large control sample. Staying indoors and looking at a tiny color swatch matched to a sign prototype from a foot away isn’t useful.
  • Lighting: Lighting must be taken into account for visual identity color matching in indoor and outdoor locations. Natural and artificial lighting impact colors differently. Going back to the Great Dress Debate, researchers viewed lighting as one reason people saw the dress as white/gold or blue/black. While you can’t control Mother Nature’s lighting, if the location is indoors, like a kiosk inside a mall, see if you can include lighting in the kiosk design.
  • Background Colors: Surrounding colors impact how the visual identity looks on different touchpoints. There are plenty of optical illusions demonstrating how surrounding colors can trick the brain into seeing colors differently. Instead of using a white background to match the control sample on a brand touchpoint, like a backlit channel letter sign, use a backlit control sample for accuracy.
  • Dimensions: I recommend producing prototypes for 2- and 3-dimensional brand touchpoints. Angles, reflections, shading, color variations and shape shifting of the visual identity can be observed through prototyping, especially on signs and other 3-dimensional brand touchpoints.

Ensuring your colors match on all brand touchpoints requires more preparation up front, but saves time, money and consumer confusion. You don’t make your customers go through the “Great Brand Debate” with your visual identity.