Planned branding is a complicated issue that doesn’t lend itself to a one-size-fits-all approach for every organization or business. Color is a single aspect of a complex subject.
In the competitive soft drink business, Coca-Cola uses a specific color of red that instantly identifies its trucks, cartons, bottles, and cans as Coca-Cola. The sub-brand colors vary, but for regular Coca-Cola, red works great.
However, for a book publisher, such as Random House or Putnam, making all their books the same color would be foolish. They’re selling a variety of individual books, not a single ubiquitous soft drink.
Even in the soft drink business, building a recognizable brand using various colors would be entirely possible. Vibrant tropical colors for tropical, fruit-flavored drinks, for example.
I used to work a little with an outdoor publishing company called Falcon Books. Their dozens of similar guidebooks were all yellow and black, which formed an instantly recognizable brand that identified Falcon Books on crowded bookstore shelves. What wouldn’t work at all for Random House worked well for Falcon.
My point is that every business or organization is unique — even companies with superficial similarities. Branding that works for one likely won’t work for the next.
I’ve noticed a trend in the crowdsourcing logo design world. Some of these logo designers are beginning to bill themselves as brand designers. They create logos, assign specific colors to those logos and assume those colors can be carried over as the basis of a broader brand.
Of course, it’s not that simple since no analysis of the company’s business has taken place. It’s impossible to assign appropriate brand colors without that deep-dive analysis of its market presence, objectives, competitors, history, target audiences, products, resources, challenges, etc. For that matter, depending on the situation, the best branding solution might not involve any fixed brand colors at all.