What meaning comes to mind when you see the color black being used in business? Is it power, strength, and controlling? It’s certainly used to make a powerful statement, as you have to be very sure of yourself to use black.
Black is never a shade. as a shade is an intensity of colours. Pale black doesn’t exist.
Black can be a color depending on the context.
Black is a color, when all other colors are mixed in terms of paint or pastels. If every color is combined in paint the color is black.
Black is the absence of color in light. So whereas every color in white light exists and is seen through a prism, remove all light for Black to exist. Black can’t be a color as it’s the absence of color.
Did you know that regardless of what color you decide to use as the main color for branding your business, you will always need a version of your logo to work in black and white? In fact, if you haven’t done so already, speak to your graphic designer and ask him for a copy of it. This is because there are times when you need your logo to sit in front of a busy back ground and it may need these extremes to stand out.
Black is a contrasting extreme. If you haven’t done so already, then make sure you look at all the other colors in our branding study in this series. You can find the conclusive study called The Meaning Of Colors here.
Let’s look at some of the meanings commonly associated with black. To the right, are some positive meanings; strong, formal powerful are really positive words for a business to adopt. Would black add strength to your brand? The simplicity of black can make it striking and yet memorable, like a silhouette it stands out burning the logo into your retina!
Black’s biggest challenge is it relies on white. Without a white background it can get lost on most colors. This is always a consideration when you want your logo to stand out as you can always guarantee the background. The solution is to have an inverse copy of your logo. (See below)
Black is black. Anything less is known as off-black colors or just dark grey. So if you want the black color code then use the Hex colour code #000000 which is simply (0,0,0) in RGB or (75,68,67,90) in CMYK
I’ve used black on many of my web designs. For an example, look at the website below. The property services wanted strength and simplicity. The design for a Southampton and Bournemouth based Property Services Company wanted to compete against some big names in the industry. So black really lent itself to these requirements. I took the branding and switched it around so much of the original white became black and vice-versa. The result is a smart looking web friendly web site that the client is extremely happy with. You can view the web design in more detail by visiting my portfolio at Hallmark property services
Black isn’t commonly seen in nature. I was pleasantly surprised to come across this the other day in a lavender garden in the New Forest. So as with my previous study on colors, I decided to see what color scheme I could get from this photo and nature. They almost look hand painted.
Just use an online color scheme maker and extract some of the colors from your photo. There are several free tools on the web to enable you to do this. Then you can save the hex numbers for your next web design creation.
However, the photo above gave me a superb pallet.
Dark Grey (not black) #1E1A19 and then a beautiful complimentary pallet of Mauve #866B7C, Brown #867A63, Green #7AA754 and a Beige #D4CDBA
The psychology of black branding has been thought through. Big companies can use the bold black and produce a strong brand. Look at the simplicity and strength of the Nike tick or the Puma logo in a similar fashion. Apple is right up there, that silhouette is probably one of the most recognisable logos on the planet. As seen in the YouTube video above, even the well-known spy franchise of 007 and James Bond continues to use it to strengthen and enhance its consistent brand.
Depression, sadness are both associated with the color black. As is grief funerals and dark secrets. It tends to be that bad things happen in the dark, so this association is carried in meaning with the color black.
Seductive, strong, formal, powerful and mysterious are all nicely associated with the spy franchise of 007 and the color black. It works really well. So well, that many brands have tried to copy this look.
Black belts are considered the best belt when it comes to martial arts.
If you’re the black sheep of the family it means you stand out for the wrong reasons.
Black holes, don’t go there for your holiday. No escape for light or any other particle.
A snooker black ball gives you a top score of 7
Blackmail is also a negative meaning for the color black. This is an expression for someone who is using a bribe to misuse his power.
The Black Box, this captures information particularly on airplanes, though its never black, it’s orange to enable it to be found easily in the scene of an accident.
A Blackout is when there is no light what so ever, so visibility disappears.
In conclusion, black isn’t always easy in design for the reasons above. But it can look awesome if you use it the right way. So what do you think? Is black a smart way to design or best avoided? Let me know in the comments below.