The importance of Colour

A major part of branding your company is deciding which colours to use. This is not something to be taken lightly and should only be done after asking some very important questions:

  • Does the colour scheme differentiate your company from its competitors? Standard Bank in South Africa, for instance, would not have differentiated themselves from Absa if they also chose red as their main brand colour.
  • Are the colours appropriate for the industry that your company is in? A colour palette of pink and yellow would, for example, not suit a law firm or an accounting firm.
  • Is the colour scheme sustainable – in other words, will it still be relevant 10 years from now?
  • Can the colours be replicated easily? Some colours look great on-screen for instance, but cannot be printed accurately without some difficulty.
  • What inherent meanings are associated with the colours? For example, red might symbolise passion, confidence and vitality.
  • Does the colour have any positive or negative connotations in foreign markets? White, for instance, is symbolic of death and mourning in China.
  • Can the colour(s) be legally protected? Interesting trivia: Kodak was the first company to trademark a signature colour.
  • When combined with other brand colours, is the palette appropriate for colourblind customers?

As you can see, choosing brand colours is not as simple as randomly combining nice-looking ones! Some knowledge of colour theory is essential and we recommend that you work with a design team that understands this.

Graphic design can’t be fast, good and cheap – you can only pick two!

In an ideal world we would be able to get the things we want immediately, in perfect condition, at just the right price (preferably free). Unfortunately the real world of business doesn’t work that way. We have to make some compromises and choose the project parameters we value most, while sacrificing others. The project triangle, as depicted in the Euler diagram above, is a simplified way of explaining how things work in the graphic design industry (and most others as well).

Between the properties of speed, quality and price, you have to choose the two that suit your priorities most. It goes without saying that all three cannot be had – one of the parameters will always suffer at the expense of the others. So your options are as follows:

  1. Fast and good: a quick turnaround time (as with a rush job) and high quality graphic design. Seeing that this is a very resource intensive exercise, there is a premium to pay. This is not the cheapest option, but if price is not an issue and you need good results fast, this option is for you.
  2. Fast and cheap: quick results at a reasonable price. Because good design takes time, this combination doesn’t allow for the best of creative solutions and isn’t an option we readily offer our clients. If affordability outweighs the visual standard you require, this is the way to go.
  3. Good and cheap: high quality graphic design at a good price. Although this may sound like a good deal, you will have to wait a long time to get your design product. Because a high premium isn’t paid for fast service, your project will be in the back of the queue. Ideal if you aren’t in a hurry and would rather wait a little longer for a great design that suits your pocket as well.

Next time you approach a design company, make sure you have made your choice. And if you ask for all three, don’t be surprised if you get shown the door!

With credit to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_triangle 

Logo formats you can expect from your graphic designer

Clients often don’t know which logo formats they can confidently request from the design company that handle their corporate identity design. Some will make do with the last low resolution proof they have received and gratefully add it to a makeshift letterhead (which will print horribly because of pixelation). Others might request a high resolution version and ask a signage company to sandblast it onto their shopfronts, no doubt causing them nightmares if it is a complex logo.

Here is a summary of logo formats you can (and should) expect from your design team:

  1. High resolution CMYK (print-ready): This logo version must have a resolution of at least 300 dpi and will most probably be in a bitmap format (like JPEG or PNG). At this resolution it will print crisply and clearly without any pixelation. It will, however, be too large to use for on-screen purposes like websites (due to large file size).
  2. Low resolution RGB (web-ready): This logo version will usually have a resolution of 72 dpi and will be in a web-ready bitmap format like JPEG, PNG or GIF. It can be used for any on-screen display purposes, e.g. websites, email footers, presentations, etc. Because of its low resolution the file size will be relatively small, which means it will load quickly on websites, but it is not suitable for printing.
  3. Monochrome version (print-ready):  In certain situations you might need a monochrome (black and white) version of your logo, e.g. fax head, vinyl sandblasting, corporate clothing, etc. This logo version must also have a resolution of at least 300 dpi and will most probably be in a bitmap format (like JPEG or PNG). Note that converting a logo to black and white is sometimes an intricate process that requires some time – complex logos cannot be converted at the click of a button!
  4. Vector version (print- and web-ready): This logo version is resolution independent and can be scaled without loss of quality. Typical formats include EPS (most common), AI (Adobe Illustrator) and CDR (CorelDraw). Although you need special software to open formats like EPS, your printer/other designers will need this version if you ever have large format printing done. Note that logos that have been designed in resolution dependent software, like Adobe Photoshop, can usually not be converted to a vector format without duplication of work. You need to discuss your needs with your design team before the logo is designed.
  5. Reversed out versions (optional): You might require your logo to work on a dark background from time to time. While some logos work fine as is on a dark background, others need some tweaking. If you require a reversed out version of your logo, be sure to discuss it with your design team, because they might not view it as standard practice.

Bear in mind that the source files (aka original or open files) remain the intellectual property of the designer/design company, except if indicated otherwise in their terms and conditions. You should be able to request all the formats mentioned above without hassle or complaint.

A final note: please remember to always scale your logo proportionally and use the appropriate format for its intended purpose!