Along with choosing the colour palette for your logo and branding, the choice of colour for your staff uniforms and corporate clothing can have a significant impact on brand perception. As discussed in our previous article about the importance of consistency in your company clothing, colour consistency in branding is key to forming a cohesive, professional image and maintaining recognition. This means achieving consistent visual representation both online and offline.
We decided to create this guide to help you ensure your company colours remain consistent across all mediums.
Why colour consistency is important in branding
Intelligent use of colour in your branding is a way to differentiate your company in a crowded market. Colour is often the first thing someone will remember about a brand. For example, when we see green and white we think of Starbucks, when we see yellow and red we think of McDonald's, and so on.
If the colours vary across different channels you can lose out on recognition, which in turn will impact sales and present a disorganised and unprofessional image. Consistent brand colouring can massively increase brand identification, boosting sales and engagement.
In order to achieve this consistency, you need to ensure a quality use of colour. Just using any blue across different marketing materials, for example, is not a good use of colour. There is a difference between Twitter's blue and Facebook's blue, and we have come to associate the particular shade with the brand.
If you're considering a rebrand, keeping the colours the same as before will help maintain recognition, just like in the recent Waitrose rebrand in which they kept a recognisable palette of various green shades. So whilst there is clearly a change in branding, they are still identifiable as the Waitrose we all know.
Considering every medium
It's important to consider all mediums that your branding will be displayed on, including literature, signage, web, mobile, clothing etc.
Keeping colour consistent is tricky in the design industry because every printer, monitor and mobile screen is different, and types of paper will take ink differently depending on the weight and surface.
However, there are ways of achieving consistency; by choosing specific CMYK, Pantone and RGB colours. With these in place you are also more likely to get a close match for embroidery threads and printed logos for your uniform. Below we have created a guide on the best way to choose colours that will work best across every medium.
Choosing your colour palette
Colours reveal a lot about your brand, so pick shades that reflect the company's purpose and stand out, as well as ones that complement each other. You can use tools like Coolors to help you find shades that work well together. It's recommended to choose one or two principal colours, which are used in most brand applications including the logo, and accompany these with a palette of complementary colours for use elsewhere as necessary.
It's important to understand the differences between digital and print colours, especially as screens continue to improve in resolution. A colour that looks great on your monitor may not translate well into print, looking dull in comparison. This is why you should never choose your palette, or indeed design your logo, based entirely on the colours you see on screen. Always choose your CMYK mix first, which will work for all printing, and then proceed with finding the web colour (RGB) to match.
Colour mixes for all print: CMYK
CMYK colours are all a specific mix of four colours; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. All full-colour printing and most colour printing is done using CMYK.
Unfortunately, the brighter, more luminous colours that you may see on screen are not always achievable in print. In order to achieve colour consistency on all platforms, it's best to find colours that firstly look right in CMYK. It's easier to find an RGB (web colour) match for a CMYK colour than it is to get a good CMYK match for an RGB colour.
Once you've found a CMYK mix you're happy with, this can be communicated with a 4-part code which details the amount of each colour that is needed in your mix e.g. CMYK 100 20 0 0.
For unique colours in print: Pantone
Pantone colours are pre-mixed inks used in offset printing. Otherwise known as spot colours, every shade is mixed according to a unique mixing formula developed by Pantone.
Individual Pantones can be added to a print if a specific unique colour is required. One, two or three colour printing is possible with Pantone. However, because Pantone colours are not always available at every printer, it is best to choose shades with a close CMYK match so your colour will still look consistent.
The Pantone Colour Bridge Set provides side by side comparison of each Pantone to its CMYK equivalent, as well as hexadecimal values to help you choose RGB colours. All Pantone colours are numbered, so it's easy to communicate which one you need. There is usually a coated and uncoated version of each Pantone number, to represent the colour on different paper finishes.
Translating your colour for web: RGB
RGB colours are used for anything created on screen, online, or elsewhere in the digital realm, and are a mix of Red, Green and Blue.
Once you have chosen your CMYK mixes, you will need to find your RGB colour match, so the printed colours are consistent with what's seen on screen. Design software like InDesign and Photoshop will find this match for you, or you can use an online converter such as EasyCalculation's colour conversion tool.
You can communicate RGB colours using a decimal value, which is a 3-part code that indicates how much of each colour is needed e.g. RGB 0 149 218. Alternatively, you can use a hexadecimal value (or hex colour code), which consists of a hash sign followed by 6 digits. Modern browsers use this reference to translate hex code into hues; for example, black is represented as #000000.
Creating brand guidelines
To ensure these CMYK, Pantone and RGB colours are used consistently, you should state them in your brand guidelines. Having a document that outlines specific rules for all aspects of your marketing will help to maintain consistency across the board. Plus, you can share it with other companies who may need to promote your products or services, or your creative design agency who can create new artwork for you.
This will be useful if you are having merchandise or signage made, so your supplier can find the best colour match within their capability. For instance, for plastic and metal items they will need to find a RAL colour match. Similarly, you can present your guidelines to your workwear and uniform supplier so they can find the closest match in embroidery threads or printed embellishment.
All in all, creating clear brand guidelines will make your life easier and really contribute to achieving brand colour consistency.
The impact of on-brand uniform
The first thing someone will notice about a person's uniform is most likely the colour, so incorporating your specific brand colours and logo, if possible, is a great way to boost recognition and portray a professional image.
If there are uniform inconsistencies and the colour of the garments or embellishment don't match your branding on other mediums, it can cause confusion and brand dilution. For example, if your logo and marketing material is primarily red and blue but all of your staff are wearing green, it not only impacts the strength of your brand but will reduce recognition. Using your brand colours across the entire range of workwear will make your employees instantly recognisable and will help to build trust and boost customer engagement. This is particularly relevant for customer-orientated businesses or employees who deal with clients face to face, as making a memorable impression in these cases is crucial.
When colours start to fade on these uniforms, consistency can be lost. This means it's a good idea to educate staff on the correct care and maintenance of uniform and the importance of maintaining colour consistency across the workforce.