Branding color mistakes to avoid

Color: Start your rebranding on the right foot

When it comes to rebranding your company, your starting point matters – a lot. 

If you choose wisely, the process of creating a new identity should proceed smoothly. If you choose the wrong starting point, however, you can run into many unexpected challenges. A case in point is selecting colors to represent your brand.

Here’s a problem that we’re starting to see more frequently: An organization decides to rebrand itself. To do so, they start by redesigning their website. They’re justifiably proud of their “bold new look.” But when they try to extend it to include non-digital items, such as direct mail, collateral, shirts and signage, they run into problems.

The colors they selected for their website don’t match their expectations when they see them in print, on signs, or apparel. Inevitably, the organization’s marketing staff must invest a lot of extra time and effort trying to reach a consensus on alternate colors that accurately represent their brand colors in all the places they need them to appear. 

What’s the solution?

To make sure your rebranding initiative flows smoothly, we recommend the following steps:

Hire a designer who is fluent in online and print design

Before you begin your rebranding project, we strongly recommend that you hire a graphic designer who has experience with both print and digital marketing. They’re more likely to have a holistic view of colors and how they can be adapted to a variety of online and offline media.

A good designer can talk you through color psychology – how colors impact how your audience feels about your brand. He or she can help you to select an attractive, professional-looking family of colors that represents what your organization stands for.

Your designer can also help you to develop a brand guide, which should include rules on the use of logos, fonts, white space plus primary and accent colors. It should include approved CMYK colors plus their PMS and hexadecimal equivalents. This document will help to ensure that all of them visually represent your brand in the same way.

Start with the smallest color palette: CMYK

All other color palettes, including PMS spot colors and hexadecimal web colors, contain the colors that make up CMYK. If you select a family of colors in the CMYK color palette that work well for your new brand, you can be more confident that no matter what the medium, you will be able to find equivalent colors and adaptations that will be consistent with them.

The other advantage of using CMYK is that it’s almost universal. It’s so widely accepted that adaptations are available for all types of printing and other services such as screen printing or fabric dying. Digital printers, used for shorter print runs and for creating personalized marketing materials, require CMYK colors.

Digital design tools, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, can automatically do conversions to PMS, RGB and hex colors. That means your designer can give you an accurate preview of colors when creating mockups for ads, direct mail pieces and collateral materials.

Know your PMS colors

If you’re planning to have collateral materials professionally printed, you’ll need to know your brand’s PMS equivalent colors. Offset printers require it. PMS (or Pantone Matching System) colors are mixed before they are applied to a surface. The pure spot color, or PMS color, is a mixed ink that enables commercial printers to reproduce a wider array of colors.

Your printer should have Pantone color swatch books you can review together to select the best color matches for your brand. Be sure to do that in person; seeing swatches on a physical page is much more accurate than trying to view them online.

Always ask to see proofs

Work closely with your commercial printer to ensure that the colors of your new marketing materials meet your brand requirements. You can verify that by asking to see proofs of your print jobs before you have large quantities of them printed.


Contact Heritage today to discuss your branding and printing needs.

Posted in