Have you really looked around you to notice that only SMEs mostly use or have gold as their logo’s color? And that there’s hardly a big business on the planet using gold as their logo’s official color hence their corporate identity color? Is it that big brands aren’t elegant, classy, sophisticated or whatever myriad of reasons SMEs present as their justification for their choice of gold? I know that most of the time, your graphics designer chooses the color because of its representation to what you hold as your core value(s) and demand to look “unique” or “prestigious”. The real question is, why is it common with SMEs and hardly ever used by the big businesses that are truly all the SMEs “wannabe”? Be it; elegant, sophisticated, classy, etc. Is it because these big brands can afford the premium service of corporate identity professionals or logo specialist – if I may – and the services of brand experts combined that they never go the gold route?
I have raised my concerns in this regard a good number of times, made quips on the issue and I’ve gotten people misunderstanding me. In some cases a couple of back lash but it’s all good. In the 21st century, TRUTH is no longer bitter. Rather it is somewhat despised on the perceived grounds of “selling yourself”. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead with an elaborate exposè and offer solution to the epidemic sweeping across SMEs like wild fire. Plus the “need for speed” to bring up, in all candidness, naive and sometimes deliberately undisciplined graphics designer’s – stuck on the jack of all trade syndrome – who are also just unwilling to know why and ask the right questions. I must say too, that to the extent the “gold rush” exists, makes it a pointer to the fact that many gold subscribing SMEs really don’t have a plan to make the all important transition to become brands and they don’t even know it.
I will like to emphasize that the quality of service a logo specialist brings to the table of making this all important and one of the most vital corporate asset is predicated on the ability to make a logo that’s 1. Built to last. 2. Captures a visionary future view. And 3. Reckons with the ability of the identity to replicate effectively across different media and touch points. The principles to ensure that a logo wields the aforementioned is anchored on the elementary rule called “simplicity”.
Gold hardly easily does well on most media – electronic and print especially when contrasted on a white background or a color that conducts light. And when it is made to do well, it costs more and greater precision to achieve. Bear in mind the imperative for consistent replication and accuracy of use of the logo – as part of the requirement of a corporate identity hence brand.
So have you noticed that brands like Cocacola or Airtel easily put their red color in your face without difficulty? This is because it’s no hassle to do. But then you make your logo’s color gold – are you going to flash golden adverts in people’s faces? How easy do you think that will be on TV? Or aren’t you someday thinking of showing an advert on TV during that popular family sitcom? Will your brochure be in gold? Of course, since it’s your logo’s color, it’s by implication your brand color. If you had in your hands a corporate brochure of say Unilever, you’re sure to see a generous brag of their blue. You think you can do that with your gold? How about that lovely ball point pen that’s made in different beautiful colors. Are you going to ask for the golden version – I guess that will have to be custom made for you to imprint your logo before sending as a thank you gift to your loyal clients. And if you choose to use any of the factory made colors, how’s your gold logo going to have visual power on it? A brand like Cocacola can very easily brand a refrigerator and keep the visual power of its brand in your face. While you’d struggle to even brand a bucket. Times are changing, so are the different mediums or media by which visuals, whether electronic or print is delivered. Guess what however, the principles that govern their functional display which is driven by light, shade and color remains the same – the science that is. This means, as long as a logo is made upon the principle of “simplicity” as a science, it will hardly ever fall short of achieving quality rendition on any media. Gold won’t suddenly show up on the color spectrum even in a 100 years from now. Probably forever. Hell! It’s not even on a rainbow. It is important to state however, that the very few global brands that have ventured the gold route know too well that they are really paying for it.
I think my point is made. Finally though and something to serve as a food for thought – while an 1860 Heidelberg can easily print a stamp of the CocaCola logo for instance. You’d need to use the latest print technology to get a crisp, sweet finish of your golden logo to same use for consistency. My friend, that comes with cost. Big brands save cost, in spite of their multimillion/billion dollar profits. Their grasp on resources isn’t unlimited like the government. To save cost is wise because there’s too much a big brand has to do, to keep you loyal to them. Hence their logo itself has to be a sophisticated symbol made to be replicated as basic as possible across multiple touch points. This is wisdom and it’s the work of professionals to create wisely.
There’s no corporate core value that a business will have that isn’t covered by a primary color, secondary color and neutral color – black and white. So rather choose from them. These colors also do very well under light and space. They offer stronger visual power and ultimately easy to manage, easy to replicate consistently. They have become very basic. The human sensory has no problem seeing basic colors and recognizing and associating much easier with a brand. Gold I think is visually ambiguous especially for corporate use. And could make your business seem unbelievable – considering the psychology.
In conclusion, I’d share a short story.
We recently did a logo for a San Francisco based luxury transport company owned by a Nigerian. Our research showed us that Gold is one of the official colors of San Francisco. So did we use gold. No! We rather used Sunshine Yellow. Because of its nearness to the character of gold when exposed to light.
Written by Dayo Abiola – Chief Design Officer of Dayo Abiola – Nigeria’s foremost logo making company.