What is the color gray meaning to you and your brand? The Color Gray is definitely a “Gray Area”. Gray is often substituted for the color Silver when designing. Would switching colors be a good idea? Is gray right for your web design and business branding? Lets find out.
As a designer I have used gray a few times in branding as the primary color. But in each case it was the result of the client initially wanting silver. Gray is often the compromise of silver in branding. So let’s investigate in detail why its a challenge to use silver and gray and why you may want to consider having gray as a complimentary secondary color for your business branding.
Although I’m based in England, there is always a discrepancy over how you spell the color “Gray”. So for clarity in Britain its the “Colour Grey” and in America it’s the “Color Gray”. For continuity and a wider audience I’m using the American spelling of Gray and Color.
For additional inspiration you should view our recent article called The Meaning Of Colors. This article takes popular branding colors and looks at how they would effect a visitors perspective of your business.
Gray has a number of associated word meanings. If we can locate these meanings, it would be easier to decide whether they would enhance or hold back the progress of your business. so before choosing to design with the color gray or silver lets consider some f the negative meanings.
Negative word association for grey is on the left. Have these in mind when using it in web design and branding. So Gray can conjure up words in your clients mind. Words such as Boring, Lonely, Basic, Colorless, Rigid, Indecisive, Insincere, Deceptive, Sterile, Cold, Isolation.
To the right, are some positive words that you will want to fully focus on. Your client may see silver or Gray and these meanings may come to mind. Good, Smart, Innocent, Fresh, Reflective, Soothing, Dignified, Glamorous, Responsibility, Organisational, Modern.
Gray is such a great complimentary color. What colour doesn’t look great next to gray? School uniforms often involve grey as it never clashes with primary colors and it always looks neat and tidy.
In the video below, I take a look at which companies are using silver or gray successfully. I also looks at some website examples of how gray has been used with success in branding for car companies and jewellery.
At this point of my article I normally find one of my designs that illustrates how I’ve used a particular color in the past successfully to help a client. I’ve used silver in design on a few occasions, but it normally ends in tears. Silver look great in print, but its a nightmare in pretty much every other medium, please believe me.
As mentioned in my video above. I am a firm believer that the color gray is best used as a complimentary shade to the main color. In the design below, it illustrates how the gray compliments the burgundy. The client here wanted a very simple, unoffensive web design. The gray subtle background was placed there instead of some photos on the website. You can still view the project for Dorset House Clearance on my portfolio. See the link to Dorset house clearance here.
When it comes to defining Gray, is it everything between black and white? I believe it truly is a gray area! The hex numbers for black are #000000 once you get past #333333 I believe you hit dark gray as your eye is unable to distinguish black. Then with white which is #FFFFFF. As it gets darker i believe its noticeable once you get past #CCCCCC.
Did you notice the this page isn’t white. go back and look at the absolute white in the image above and you will see the background of this page is #FCFCFC. (you could call it a very light Gray) Before you jump up and down and say that’s ridiculous. Please keep in mind that you can only notice how white or how black something is when its put next to absolute black or white though. So white and black have a range to themselves in design.
Of course silver is a whole new ball game!
Gray’s are used a lot in the motor industry. Smart, cool, fresh, modern are all appealing and positive. As car colors are very much an individual choice, then car manufacturers love the neutrality that silver and gray offer.
Here is our list of the types of business we found using the gray color in branding.
Silver in sports is for a runner up to gold
The term “get out your silver” refers to quality cutlery.
The phrase “silver fox” is an older man, generally with gray or graying hair, who is considered attractive, charming, and classy.
A married couple’s silver wedding or silver wedding anniversary is the 25th anniversary of their wedding.
The phrase “silver screen” used in reference to movies and Hollywood.
In conclusion, gray isn’t most peoples first choice for business. If you are associated with the car business or Jewellery products then its neutral effect can be ideal for visiting customers as it doesn’t provoke personal opinion. I’ve come across a few websites that have used gray and silver, but often with problems as the definition of the colours becomes blurred over time and design consistency can get lost.
Are you thinking of using gray for branding? I would love to hear from you below.