The Spring Effect: Brighten Up Your Brand

Spring Brand RefreshDriving down the roads of the Finger Lakes region lately, it’s tough not to notice the shift taking place. At first, the thought goes something like this: “boy, does it look pretty out here.” Then, you think, “well, this area is always pretty.” So, what’s changed?

Spring has sprung. Leaves have returned to the trees. Lilacs are in full blossom. Cardinals, blue jays, and other colorful birds adorn the trees and fill the air with music.

While spring may have “officially” began in March, it’s only now that we’re seeing what makes it so glorious.

Infusing spring into your brand

Each turn of the season reminds us of how colorful the world really is, no matter where you might be. Winter shows us how blue things can get, while spring is all about a fresh start, signified by the sudden sprouts of green everywhere that mark the coming of brighter, longer days. It’s in the trees, the lawns, and nearly every plant that surrounds us, inspiring joy as we walk or drive amongst it.

So, with the turn to spring, it’s only right that we take some of that energy and infuse it into our brand.

What green can do for your brand

As a general reminder, color is complex. To make one blanket statement about what green signifies or stands for would be over-simplifying a color that can evoke a variety of emotions.

Let’s start by exploring general associations we make with different shades of green:

Green: Standard green (think: grass) is reminiscent of health, freshness, serenity, growth, environment, and vitality.

Dark greens: Darker shades of green (think olive green; money) often denote wealth, prestige, or envy, but can also signify an environmental aspect.

Light greens: Finally, lighter green tones often promote a calming effect, evoking feelings of balance and harmony.

There’s a lot going on when it comes to green. Which is why you’ll see it in so many brands that span a variety of industries, attempting to portray a diverse set of emotions and, in return, evoke different responses among various target markets.

Consider Garnier. The brand uses a lighter, brighter green that practically shouts fresh, vibrant, and healthy for hair and skin products.

Then there’s Starbucks. Its brand is of a more sophisticated note, using the darker green that can also be representative of its devotion to environmentally-friendly sourcing.

The epitome of “going back to the Earth”, John Deere uses a more standard green tone to establish itself as a tool for growth and environment.

Oh — and one final fun fact about the color green? Many argue that it’s the easiest color on the eyes. (So, visitors to your brand can feast their eyes for even longer.)

Spring doesn’t stop at green

The freshness of spring most certainly comes from the abundance of green, but it’s even more rejuvenating when dotted with sudden, intense pops of color, like the vibrant purple of the lilacs. After all, the real potential of using color to evoke emotions requires knowing how to use colors together, seamlessly, to create just the right amount of contrast and lead your viewer’s eyes where you want them to take action.

I’ve said it before (and I’ll keep repeating for reinforcement!): color is one of the most important and powerful aspects of your brand. It’s fascinating, really. Research shows that it takes just 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product — and 62-90% of that interaction is determined by color, alone.

Powerful to say the least, right?

The spring effect

For me, spring is all about rejuvenation, growth, and vitality. For you, it might mean fresh air and serene nights.

While spring looks a little different for everyone, one thing’s for certain: it can play an important role in setting the tone of your brand.

Want to learn more about how color affects your brand’s impact? Download my handy What Does Your Brand Say? workbook, and when you’re ready, get in touch to set up a complimentary Brand Clarity Call so we can really dig in.

In the meantime, stop and smell the flowers, and enjoy the ever-lengthening days!

Harris Studios spring        Harris Studios spring        Harris Studios spring

Spring Cleaning: Making Room for Light & White Space

spring light and white space

Though the weather might not reveal it (at least here in the Finger Lakes of New York State, where fresh coats of snow still greet us each morning), the season has changed. Spring is here!

The first thing that rightly comes to many minds is the ritual of spring cleaning — going through your home with the dust rag and floor polish; opening the windows to let the fresh air in; shaking out the well-worn winter sweaters in favor of short sleeves and lighter coats in the closets.

For me, spring cleaning means absolving ourselves of the things no longer serving us. It means making space. It means feeling lighter.

What does this have to do with design, you ask? Everything, of course.

Like we need to make space in our physical and mental environments, we need to make room for light and white space in our designs.

Myth busting: white space

The role of white space has long been debated in design. While some simply prefer to design with more or less white space, greater amounts of it have typically lent themselves to formal designs and luxury brand aesthetics. In my opinion? The Apple and Rolex brands of the world aren’t the only ones who should be maximizing white space.

In fact, simple and uncluttered design — that which strategically uses white space — is one of the most powerful ways to convey a message.

There’s a lingering design myth that we need to bust straight away: white space is not wasted space. White space is as important as logos, graphics, type, and all other elements of design.

What’s this white space?

White space, commonly referred to as negative space, is, as you’ve probably guessed, the space between elements in a layout.

Macro white space refers to the space between larger elements — a logo and a graphic, for example. Micro white space, on the other hand, refers to the space between smaller elements — list items, for example. Both are incredibly important.

The issue really, is this common conundrum in both graphic and web design: there’s so much content to cover and information to convey, and only a limited amount of overall space to do it in. It’s easy for clients to want to fill up every single space until the design ends up looking as crammed as the classifieds.

Strategically using white space

Cluttered design makes for lost messages. Start your spring cleaning by considering two ways to use white space to let the light in on your layout: actively and passively.

Active white space will lead a viewer’s eye from one element to another. Consider a photograph with the subject off-center, looking toward the direction with greater open space. Your eye will automatically follow that gaze.

Passive white space is exactly that — passive. It’s the white space we control when we set margins, typefaces, weights, and leading.

White space is subjective, and therefore there are no succinct rules for using active or passive negative space. That being said, here are two general guidelines to get you started:

1. Maximizing white space means beginning by seriously considering all of the elements in your layout and weighing both their importance and their relation to each other.

2. Acknowledge that white space is one of those elements.

When in doubt, remember this quote from Jan Tschichold, who stated it perfectly in 1930: “White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.”

Give your eyes room to rest

The way to better design is through experimenting with increasing white space. Even the tiniest amounts of white space — the micro of the micro — can make a huge impact. (Just think of newspapers and magazines. The best-designed ones are able to pack in the information without the overwhelm.) White space gives your viewers breathing room. It lets the light of spring in. It offers the eyes room to rest.

Want to learn more about how to evaluate the elements in your brand? Download my free e-book, What Does Your Brand Say? now!

The next time you’re looking at a layout, take note of the use of white space. How does it help the composition?