Liberation in use of colour or is it? My first blog without the aid of visuals.


Using print, multi media and web content emotively.

Not so long ago – perhaps even as short a period of time as 2006/07 – if you were about to embark on a political campaign, a branding, a graphic design service or design for a conference or a small company service piece, the print portion of the budget was – to a large extent – determined by how much money you had; 4 colour, effective 2 colour – or, if money really was an issue, black and white.

Today designers, communicators, marketing specialists and proprietors of small business are no longer as limited by minimal use of colour. What a liberation one would think. But I see many campaigns and communication programs suddenly and purposely promoting a limited palette in their work. Black grounds with dark grey (illegible) type has become a horrible trend on the web. In print large outlines of white used to differentiate the message from a complex mix of imagery and busy backgrounds and on the web, the same use of muted colours to promote ideas, products and services.

The idea of hiring a designer or team was and still continues to be, a necessary step toward grabbing attention and differentiating what you are selling, saying or promoting. Obviously colour plays a huge role, but increasingly I’m seeing a lack of understanding about differentiation as it relates to use of colour.

There is one really poor example here in Vancouver that comes to mind; The Bread Garden, a locally grown – and one assumes still successful – company, who launched their BG URBAN CAFÉ look to the downtown 12 months ago, an amateurish attempt to reintroduce the downtown – and I would suggest struggling – storefronts to a city luncheon market. An acronym so far removed from their root along with an ugly 1970’s brown colour scheme topped with a minimalist vector sketch of a chef’s crown, really doesn’t differentiate their offering. Also take a look at the minimalist website – http://www.bgurbancafe.com/index.php – a first year graphic art student could have done better.

So on a positive note, there are some really wonderful local stories of success in their use of colour and respective branding and I would like you, the reader, to point them out. Please respond with your observations and thoughts on what you see as the most brilliant new brands using colour effectively over the last 12 months.

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Filed under 25 Years of Baseline

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