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The Power of Color

People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less, and 90% of that decision is based solely on color

Color is perception. Our eyes see something (the sky, for example), and data sent from our eyes to our brain tells us it’s a certain color (blue). Objects reflect light in different combinations of wavelengths. Our brains pick up on those wavelength combinations and translate them into the phenomenon we call color. Pretty amazing stuff!

When you’re strolling down the soft drink aisle scanning the shelves filled with an unending array of cans and bottles trying to find your six-pack of Coke, what do you look for? The scripted logo? Or that familiar red can?

A very important part of your branding must focus on color. So, let’s talk more about color. 

Rob color Venn diagram brand identity color palette the power of color

RGB: the additive color mixing model

Humans see colors in light waves. Mixing light—or the additive color mixing model—allows you to create colors by mixing red, green and blue light sources of various intensities. The more light you add, the brighter the color mix becomes. If you mix all three colors of light, you get pure, white light.

TVs, screens and projectors use red, green and blue (RGB) as their primary colors, and then mix them together to create other colors.

Why should you care about the power of color?

Let’s say you have a very distinct brand with a bright yellow logo. If you post the logo on Facebook, Twitter or your website and don’t use the correct color process, your logo will appear muddy instead of that bright yellow. That’s why, when working with files for any screen, use RGB, not CMYK.

CKMY color Venn diagram brand identity color palette the power of color

CMYK: the subtractive color mixing model and the power of color

Any color you see on a physical surface (paper, signage, packaging, etc.) uses the subtractive color mixing model. Most people are more familiar with this color model because it’s what we learned in kindergarten when mixing finger paints. In this case, “subtractive” simply refers to the fact that you subtract the light from the paper by adding more color.

Traditionally, the primary colors used in subtractive process were red, yellow and blue, as these were the colors painters mixed to get all other hues. As color printing emerged, they were subsequently replaced with cyan, magenta, yellow and key/black (CMYK), as this color combo enables printers to produce a wider variety of colors on paper.

Why should you care?

You’ve decided to print a full-color brochure. If you’re investing all that money into your marketing (printing isn’t cheap!), you expect your printer is going to get the colors right.

Since printing uses the subtractive color mixing method, getting accurate color reproduction can only be achieved by using CMYK. Using RGB will not only result in inaccurate color, but a big bill from your printer when you’re forced to ask them to reprint your entire run.

As you can see there is much more to color than meets the eye. The choices you make in using colors for your logo, brand, marketing and collateral does matter. At Atomic Idea we know the power that color has and we have decades of experience helping clients choose and use the best colors for their brand.  


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Atomic Idea
200 Union Blvd, Suite 200
Lakewood, CO 80228
720-476-8507

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