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Brand Color Analysis in a segment- The Squint Method

06/03/2010

I design new packaging quite a bit. One of the most important things when you’re designing is to make sure that your products differentiate themselves yet still remain cohesive within the segment.

When you think of branding, a lot of people think of enforcing it through the ‘ownership’ of a color or color blend. This means that when someone thinks of USB cables they know that the ones in the pink package are of quality and are your brand. Hopefully, this means that they are drawn to your pink box without need to discern the differences between the others. Now I can’t make people buy one thing over the other, as that recurring purchase comes from the inherent cost/quality of the product, but I can work to re-enforce ownership of whatever qualities are there through color ownership.

Usually, there are a number of competitors doing the same thing as you: working to own a color. You have to pick a different color to pop your brand from theirs. The first thing that needs to be done is to understand what the dominate colors (or combinations) in the segment are.

What I do when I’m setting about to design packaging is pretty simple. I squint a bit. While kinda silly sounding, it does a pretty good job of divining out the dominate colors without getting caught up in the details. It’s a nice sell-point when you have to justify your designs to have a version of this in your presentation, which is plainly just a nice Gaussian filter.

In the previous example of books here, it could have been easy to construe the color choices in the copious amounts of text and all the blasters as false dominant colors, but with the blur you can plainly see some trends and big competitors.

Obviously, yellow and black dominates the category as well as a dollop of blue. The last thing you want to do, if you want a product line that sticks out is to use yellow, black, and blue. (Judging by the top image, you also don’t want it to be super-busy – but that’s a tale for another time.) Perhaps a red book or maybe a green series would be best in this situation, as you wouldn’t be sharing colors with a lot of competitors.

I have my intermediate Fine Art Painting professor Denis Sargent to thank for this and now you do, too!

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