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A brand is an idea in the mind of the consumer whose power lies in the ability to influence purchasing decisions.
The key point is the idea's power to influence. That power strenthens the more narrowly focused the idea is. In fact, a brand's strength is inversely proportional to its focus. Through branding, you make yourself, the Indie Author Name, interchangeable with the "idea."
Today, we're looking at how color can affect--or be used to effect--your branding strategy. Click through the jump-break to learn more about it.
The Color Wheel
While it's important to choose the right color for your brand, it's also important to know what color is the exact "wrong" one. According to the Law of Color, you should choose that color which is exactly opposite your strongest competitor.
As Indie Authors, we deal with words, not colors so you might not know what "opposite color" means or how to use the Color Wheel to find one. The diagram below is a standard Color Wheel with primary colors (red, blue, yellow) labelled in bold, as well as secondary colors (orange, green, purple) and tertiary colors labelled to help you see which are which. Notice that the secondary and tertiary colors are a combination of their neighboring primaries and secondaries, respectively. That is if you combine primary colors red and yellow, you get the secondary color orange; combining primary red and secondary orange, gets tertiary red-orange and so on.
Study the wheel a minute and be sure you're familiar with the concepts of how colors mix and blend. Typically, when we talk about "opposite" colors, we mean that color which is opposite in position on the color wheel. You'll find that the opposite of a Primary color is a Secondary; however the opposite of a Tertiary is another Tertiary. For instance, to find the opposite of red, look at the wheel and draw a straight line across. The color directly opposite of red is green, a secondary color resulting from the combination of the two primaries to either side of it (blue and yellow combine to make green).
You'll also notice that green and red "cancel" each other out if you use color adjustment systems in computer graphics programs. This is also true of, for instance, blue and orange. Typically, in order to avoid this cancelling out effect, deliberate combinations of "opposites" will combine a Primary with one of its opposite Tertiaries instead of its opposite Secondary. Blue and gold, for instance, is the power combination popular in many corporate office designs. That's not by accident.
How Indie Authors Can Use Colors
Indie Authors are often identified with our book covers designs--which usually tend to be more than one color. This is why it's important to understand the meanings behind all colors more than it is to choose a single color for your brand, like a widget-maker might do.
Coca-Cola, for instance chose red--or red on white--and International Business Machines (IBM) chose blue. Why were these colors chosen--and why have they endured through decades of other branding changes? It actually has to do with the physiology of the human eye.
Last week, I discussed how shape is determined by the human eye. Rather, the fact we have two eyes, horizontally mounted on the front of our heads. This week, to understand how to use the Law of Color, we'll discuss how those eyes are affected by colors and what interpretations the human brain "automatically" assigns to those colors as a result.
The key, when choosing the color "pallete" for your book cover design or (series of designs) is to understand what the selected colors will imply to your viewers in the first scant seconds they see the image--in the split second it takes for their retinas to take in the colors and send the signals to their brains. Colors have meanings, but there are physical reasons for those meanings.
The American Meanings of Color
First, I have to note that colors have different meanings in different cultural contexts, so the discussion here is--excuse the pun--colored by my Americanized cultural contexts. Physiology is the same worldwide, though, so certain meanings are probably universal. Mostly.
Red - the color of excitement, energy, passion and anger. The red end of the color spectrum is focused slightly in front of the retina of the human eye so these colors appear to move towards you when you see them. Red is an "in your face" color and the #1 most-popular dominant color of national flags (blue is a distinct second, dominating only 20% of all national flags). Red is the most popular color in retail because it attracts attention and engages the emotions.
Blue - the color of peace and tranquility, calmness, and quiet strength. The blue area of the color spectrum will be focused slightly behind your retinas so blues will appear to move away from you when you see them.
Yellow - the neutral color is in the mid-range of detectable colors and although it does not appear to "move" when you see it, yellow does appear "brighter" than other colors. Because of its brightness, yellow is often the color of caution, warnings, communication of other limiting concepts.
In corporate choices for widget-logos, blue is chosen as a leadership color and when paired with yellow or its "opposite" secondary, orange, the combination attacts attention to the strength. This is why many mystery/spy thriller and suspense novels use blue, orange and yellow combinations in their color pallete. Purple or violet, the secondary "opposite" yellow is usually associated with royalty or opulence. It is not, oddly enough, the #1 choice for "wealth." Black is.
Black is the presence of all colors and as such, its "richness" makes black the color of luxury. In most Judeo-Christian cultures, black is also a religious color (priests and other devoutly religious individuals are usually robed in black). In book cover terms, a black or mostly black cover will imply something religious or "sleek" and "expensive." Shiny black shoes, long black limousine, black tuxedo.
White, on the other hand, is the color of purity and simplicity. It is the color assigned to virgins in fiction and of course, wedding dresses for just that reason. White is a poor choice for book covers, especially for the text. Why? Because white is the absence of all color and the retinas will not "adjust" for its presence; therefore, white text will blend or "disappear" from notice.
Finally, Green is usually associated with environmental or "Earth" related concepts--for what I hope are obvious reasons ^)^
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be a look at my first month of a free promotion--using everything on the internet EXCEPT Amazon's exclusive-rights-based KDP Select Program. Learn how well a book can perform without giving up your rights for worldwide distribution.
Next Monday, the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors) will continue with Law 18: Law of Borders. Hope to see you then!