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Designs of the Times 02: Color

Abigail Shipps
September 23, 2020
Design

We’re back with more Designs of the Times, a series that explores the impact of digital design decisions on company branding, customer perception, and community building. We’re discussing how specific brands exhibit different elements, and we’ll be getting the Yaguara Design team’s take on each topic along the way.

Let’s dive into color.

What’s in a Color Scheme?

Roses are red, violets are blue...so what does that mean to you? Color psychology helps explain the reason why certain colors evoke certain emotions. It partially has to do with the color and its associations, and it partially has to do with one’s background and culture.

For instance, most people can agree that the color green evoke nature because of the green color of leaves and plants. As a result, many environmentally aware companies utilize green in their logo and branding, such as Avocado Green Mattress, a non-toxic organic mattress brand. However, some people associate the color green with money. Shopify, an eCommerce platform that we’re close with here at Yaguara, fits the financial meaning of green. Some companies take advantage of a color’s multiple connotations, such as Hello Fresh, a meal prep delivery service that builds their brand on affordable, sustainable, and healthy food. 

The brightness and contrast of a brand’s colors extend beyond visual aesthetics and implication, and into voice and product. Muted palettes or lack of color, such as with Apple or The New York Times, let the products and content add their own theoretical and literal color to a website. On the other hand, bright colors help illuminate a product’s importance to a greater purpose. For instance, Judy is an emergency kit company whose website is a vibrant red-orange, which immediately draws attention to the kit’s implied importance of preparing for disasters. Moreover, many digital companies, such as Segment and even Yaguara, use color to boost a non-physical product that would otherwise not be very colorful. 

judy_yaguara

Contrast and Clarity

Beyond emotional and product impact, there is a practical reason why eCommerce brands choose certain colors for their website and logo. “Accessibility is vital when choosing a color scheme,” says Hunter of the Design team at Yaguara, “and it’s important to understand what screens can do to color.” Tools such as Color Review can help designers see the level of accessibility in their chosen colors, and whether they need to up the contrast in order to accommodate the general population’s variety of visual abilities. 

Whether a brand uses bright yellow or mellow purple, color enables customers to understand the impact of a brand’s product and voice in the greater eCommerce landscape. The Yaguara design team notes that color choice creates an experiential clarity, especially if the color scheme has high contrast (looking at you, red-orange Judy). Color psychology helps connect the dots, but someone’s background and experience with certain colors paints the full picture of a brand’s reception. Most importantly, ensuring accessibility to a company’s product is of the utmost importance when it comes to facilitating an inclusive following and brand impact.

An Evolving Palette

Van Gough, Picasso, and Matisse walk into a bar. What do you do? Ask them about color theory, of course! These well-known painters of the 20th century are to thank for pioneering many trends and color combinations that shape the color schemes and intentions behind brand colors today. Van Gough is known for his use and contrast of bold colors like blue, yellow, and green. Similarly, Matisse veered away from realistic renderings with his bold use of color and flattened strokes, even resorting to cutting bold shapes from paper near the end of his life. Recognized for his cubism paintings, Picasso used color to express his feelings, evolving from blue and abstract forms to rose and more vibrant, realistic paintings. 

Starry Night, Vincent Van Gough (1889); Maquette for Nuit de Noël, Henri Matisse (1952)


Preceding these artists was Georges Seurat. Known for his work with pointillism that led into Neo-Impressionism, Seurat defined a new, systematic age of color theory in his work with complementary and contrasting colors. His colorful layered dots make his pieces jump off their canvases with a humming vibrancy. Van Gough famously called Seurat’s studio a “fresh revelation of color.”  

seurat_color
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat (1884-1886)


Fast forward to the 21st century, and brands are creating trends of their own. For instance, dark backgrounds with pops of color characterize creative companies like Spotify, while soft, earth tones define Tushy Bidet’s homepage. Additionally, razor brand Billie evokes a modern feminine vibe with their pastel colors, and Baboon to the Moon wows with their funky, retro, and rainbow color scheme. 

baboon_to_the_moon_tushy_bidet_color

So, to trend set or to be the trendsetter? Kat of the Yaguara Design team notes that trends are like a pendulum: trends come and go, and come and go. Hunter adds that “as long as you lean into a trend intentionally and if it aligns with what you aim to express, then that’s fine, go for it. Trends aren’t bad, they’re an indicator of successful design elements.” 

History informs the present, especially when it comes to a colorful art history. Color trends are modern-day art eras, just sped up to accommodate the invention of the Internet. The great thing? A brand isn’t cemented to a color scheme. With some rebrands, for instance, comes a revamp of everything, many times including color. Just like Van Gough transitioned from his blue era into his rose period, companies can alter their colors to better fit their brand voice. 

True Colors

Whether a company is a trend follower or a trendsetter, color schemes visually enhance a brand’s, well, true colors. Color has the power to amplify accessibility, inclusivity, and ultimately the product and experience a company puts forth. Companies like Baboon to the Moon saturate their brand with color, while Apple lacks color to attract customers. 

Like font, color choice has the ability to transcend products to foster a following that can ultimately become a community. Here at Yaguara, we couple our trademark green with a variety of complimentary, lively colors. Our color scheme is an enhancement of our brand values of democratizing data, putting people behind the numbers, and working better together. Yaguara might be a data-driven company, but design elements like color help express our identity as data-driven people

Color is another piece of the design puzzle that brands utilize to impact the eCommerce landscape. We’re excited to continue our exploration of impactful design elements on branding. 

Hint: who loved doodling in the margins of their class notebooks in school?

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