Friday, February 17, 2006

Selecting a Color for the Brand of the Firm

When we started the branding process I had recently interviewed most of the partners at the firm. One of the questions I asked was, "What is your favorite color?" The goal of the question, beyond understanding personalities, was to find a color that my partners would be warm towards. That color turned out to be 'blue'. DUH! What is the single most popular color for most North Americans? Yup... Blue.

Then, my rep from Fine Arts came bearing samples of letterheads they'd created for a large block of their clients. More than 70% of this large sampling of law firms used blue (and gray) as their primary color. WOW! Tiny little bells were ringing like crazy in my head. In that moment I knew I could never accept blue.

My art director and brand guru, Jim Hughes, suggested a traditional power color. Red. I liked it but also knew that in the many shades and hues of red there are many that would be incredibly wrong. We did actually look at several combinations of other primaries in the spectrum but kept coming back to red. Considering the amount of time we spent discovering the essence of the firm, red just felt right.

Jim and his team created a collection of layouts using the agreed upon logo, and with each interation he used several hue variations of red. Each time we came closer to understanding and agreeing upon which hue captured our message.

The red needed to be strong without being overpowering. It had to communicate seriousness without being demanding. It had to feel like a timeless color; Not a color born from a modern trend. And, it had to be just edgy enough that my partners liked the statement it made without fear of being too boastful. Let's face it, red can be pretty loud.

On the final day of signing off on the color as I listened to partners comment on the letterhead comp's the one word that kept coming up was, "confident". To them (and to me) the final color projected confidence. Not too loud, not too dull... it somehow managed to stradle the middle ground of being powerful but without ego.

Choosing red in a firm with such a long legacy was a HUGE risk for the firm.... But I believe it is the PERFECT color for this group.

Finding the right color for a firm is not easy. Color communicates entire messages even when it has no form or design... making a choice is that much more important... a choice that does not come along too often.
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