From email to PowerPoint: Three tips to ensure you’re using brand colors effectively (PART 2)


Welcome to the second installment of our blog series dedicated to branding. If you missed part one, you can read it here.

Part two of this series focuses on color and goes hand in hand with our overarching theme of consistency. Our first stop when it comes to the use of colors is graphs.

Graphs can be a really fun way of taking a large amount of information and representing it in a more visually appealing way that’s also easier to understand. Unfortunately, they can sometimes be needlessly complex and overwhelming. The trick to their aesthetics is rooted in the notion of consistency in brand color usage.

Rule #1: Make color a decision, not an intuition

If you can do it with graphs, you can do it with anything else. Make sure that when you pick a color, you do it for a reason. Take the graph below as a starting example.

Now look at this…

While an extreme example, the color palette of the graph above clashes with the whole page and, by extension, the whole site around it. In addition, the colors don’t provide any information about the data covered in the graph; in fact, both the colors and spacing suggest that each bar is different than the others.

To avoid this issue, decide why each color is being used and how it helps convey information clearer, bring attention to an item, or at the very least is consistent with your branding.

In the case of  Yesmail, why not make them all green?

Voila! This meshes with the site nicely (and will fit anywhere else we have our branding.)

Rule #2: Use color coding to simplify complex items

It would be too easy if we could make all our graphs one color! Complexity is part of the process.

Take a look at this example:

The division between the colors here is perfect for illustrating a change that occurred from the blue area to the green area.

Even as we complicate it further we can remain consistent and still use only two colors!

Rule #3: Transparency

While transparent versions are technically different colors, let’s not be sticklers for details. The fact is that they provide a consistent look while still communicating a difference. Using transparency allows you to use different shades of your primary brand colors instead of resorting to a more extreme color palette. This helps convey (and hopefully simplify) additional layers of complexity without adding confusion.

When you need to break the rules

If you need to break the rules, pie charts are the way to do it because they can contain tons of segments that can be one too many for your brand colors.

In example “A” on the right we are in just that predicament: we are one color short of being able to fill the wheel with our brand colors.

While Yesmail has an orange color as part of its brand palette (see home page button), in this particular case it takes over the graph.

One solution is to make the largest section our primary green color and use the orange for the smallest portion.

This approach could work but when your focal point isn’t the largest piece of data, it could be confusing.

Instead, you may consider taking graph elements that are less important and giving them shades of light grey like we did in example “B”. This scales those elements back without removing them entirely.

Now that we’ve demonstrated how to effectively use branding colors and principles, in the next blog post of the series, we’ll move on to the most ubiquitous business tool today – Powerpoint.

We’ll illustrate tips on branding consistency, evocative imagery, and templates that help strengthen your brand’s appearance across the board. 

Author Bio

Gregg Hecht

Placing a definition around art is always a subject of debate, but Gregg likes to think that we can all agree that whatever we see art in (be it a painting, in design, or even an athletic activity) there is always something special that distiguishes it. That “something special” has no formula, but trying to find it in design and in fencing has been the direction the last several years of Gregg's life has followed. He has no problem imagining that his interests will continue on in that direction for many more years.