Really great article in Design Week about the importance of colour in branding. Apparently, in a survey of the world’s top 100 brands (defined by brand value) 95 per cent use only one or two colours. However, Laura Hussey puts a convincing case that more colour could be beneficial. She points to companies such as Google and Ebay who use more than one colour in their brand.
And she also refers to some interesting developments with Oxfam and The Guardian who are using a spectrum of colours to represent hope and positivity. It’s well worth reading Laura’s article. You can see it here. You may also be interested in my post of a few weeks ago about Apple’s historical and contemporary use of colour.
What goes around, comes around. The original Apple logo was rather garishly coloured. From 1976 until 1998 it was an apple with coloured horizontal stripes. The 1976 logo had its origins in an even earlier logo that was a hand drawn picture of Newton with an apple over his head. Steve Jobs insisted on the colours to humanise the company and the 1976 logo was designed by Rob Janoff with the coloured stripes also representing that the Apple II could generate graphics in colour. It’s hard to imagine that this was a big deal then but it was!! When I studied for my PhD in the early 1980s my computer had no colour, no hard drive and just 16 k (that’s 16 k, not 16 GB or 16 MB) of RAM. We take massive memory, processing power and colour for granted in our digital devices today. But I digress. In 1998 Apple discontinued the rainbow theme and started to use monochromatic themes (I used this word because more people would understand it to mean black and white but monochromatic is really single colour and a better would be achromatic). In the last 15 years or so I think it’s fair to say that Apple have used both monochromatic and achromatic versions of their famous logo.
Interesting then that in March 2012 Apple unveiled a new logo that is full of colour. See the right-most image in the picture above (image from Gizmodo UK) Everything comes back into fashion if you wait long enough.
I was inspired to write this by reading two other blogs; please visit them for further information:
Eliza Brooke’s blog.
Rob Mead-Green’s blog.
Of course, one of the reasons (but by far not the only one) that the iphone has been so successful is the quality of the camera that is built in. It was certainly one of the features that made me switch from Nokia about 3 years ago after more than 15 years of loyalty to the swedish brand. So I was interested to read recently that the next iphone may feature advanced colour correction methods and promises to be even better than its predecessors. You can read about the story here.
Colour correction is necessary because different cameras use different RGB primaries and because the activation of the RGB sensors when taking an image depend upon the quantity and quality of the ambient illumination. So, for example, imagine the light was very very red, then the R channel of the camera would be more strongly activated than if the light was whiter. However, our visual systems are able to compensate for this so that most of the time we don’t notice objects changing colour when we move from one room to another or from inside to outside. Colour correction is inspired by human colour constancy and attempt to correct the images so that the objects in the scene would retain their daylight appearance. However, colour correction is difficult; that is, it is very difficult to get it right all of the time. One frustration I have is taking a photo of my band (I play drums in a covers band) under very colourful lighting. Often the images are very disappointing and lack the intensity of the original scene. That is because, human colour constancy is only partial and under extreme lighting things really do change colour markedly – such as under our intense LED stage lighting. In these cases I think sometimes the automatic colour correction is actually too much and I have found that I have to modify the images I capture on my mac to try to recreate what I think the original scene looked like. So auto colour correction – the state of the art – is certainly not perfect. Let’s hope this story about an advance made by Apple is true.
I was reading on a web page that white is the usual response if you ask people their favourite colour – http://www.pressdistribution.net/14735/apple-iphone-4-white-show-true-colour
I don’t think its true. Most studies show that people’s favourite colour is blue. I have never heard of a study that found white to be the favourite colour. The article was about the iPod though and we all know that the use of white was an inspired choice by Apple. The white earphone leads have become iconic and are part of the brand that consumers buy into by the millions. In fact, I think this is a very interesting phenomenon – there is a lot of research that shows that people prefer one colour to another. But what use is it? Over the last few years my research has focussed on the context of colour preference; that is, which colours would be most effective when used for a particular product (and by extension, for a particular market).