The Branded Spectrum

03 Aug

The Branded Spectrum: Black

We start this series by looking into one of the basics – black. Why do some companies select black as the main colour for their logo? If you Google the attributes that are associated with black, you get a list that's not too surprising: classic, balance, calm, authority – all very confident qualities to associate with a colour. We think of black as mature, (there aren't many black baby clothes available,) and it's a colour that we frequently relate with death, in the Western world anyway. Above all, black is highly steeped in cultural and historical tradition.


If you think about the logos that you know that are black, one thing that will likely not surprise you, is that so many of them are from the high-end fashion industry. A disproportionate number of the huge fashion houses have black logos. Chanel, YSL, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Vuitton – the list goes well on. It's no secret why so many of these brands look to black as the initial colour of their brand. A black logo can have classic, ageless relevance, and need not be bound by fashionable colours. Because blues and reds – all colours – become refined for fashionable palettes year to year, they risk the chance of appearing out of date. A black logo never risks this through colour, only through its graphic design. Further, a black logo lets the real stars of the fashion brands speak for themselves – the clothes – and they alone have their own colour stories and promises to uphold.




Another realm that black logos play a significant role in is media. Large media companies frequently turn to black for their logo colour: ABC, CBS, Universal, LA Times Magazine, Disney, The New York Times. Again, the list goes on. Newspaper logos, with their black mastheads, are a natural pick to be black, but for other outlets, black serves as the plainly-spoken messenger. It conveys words, information, data, news. Just as fashion labels employ black to let the clothes speak for themselves, media companies need their programming and news to speak for themselves.


             abclogo     CBS la-times-mag-logo1

              disney logo 1   New-York-Times-Logo1

Another way that black comes to us through branding is in the colour of the packaging of many of the things we buy. Years ago, a South American photographer named Pedro Motta conducted an experiment where he went to a local grocery store and selected from its shelves, items that he grouped by colour. The black basket (photo by Pedro Motta) included chocolate, wine, gourmet oils, hairspray, cosmetics – all objects that could contribute to a sophisticated feeling lifestyle. These are largely experiential products that feel exclusive, as if for an elite audience – not unlike what fashion houses are after. Go through your own house and pull out the items you've purchased that are packaged in black. There will be few surprises.




Think about this. Every year, we hear about what 'this year's black' will be. Sometimes we hear that brown or grey is 'this year's black'. It's fascinating to me that we don't say this about any other colour. So what does black say to us in a brand sense? Merely that it's calm and formal and serious; that it doesn't need to be bright or garish to be noticed. It doesn't need to say anything more. It is, after all, black.


Other black logos include: Nordstrom, American Apparel, JVC, GE, Gillette, Olay, Puma, Nike, 007, Reader's Digest, Sony, Finlandia Vodka, Mercedes, Turner Media, Microsoft, Warner Brothers, Fiat, Kawasaki, Renault, Nickelodeon, Christian Dior and MTV.


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Color Objects encourages you to get a better eye and appreciation for colors and characters. To get a special selection of pics and info for you, we find designers and artists that make colorful work from all over the world. There's a lot of character in colors, and having a closer look will change your view of the world and people around you. So we share a host of pics and info from design, art, cultures and the natural world. All about colors.

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