Creative Design
Jessie Lacey
by Jessie Lacey
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Leveraging color to maximize your brand (and invigorate staff)

01/10/2011
Leveraging color to maximize your brand (and invigorate staff)

As the new creative director in a team of programming and content geniuses, I’m applying my print and graphic design know-how to our physical office space makeover. Trading in my pantone deck for paint chips, I get to work.

My first order of business is to look at hundreds of photos of professionally designed offices and point at them and say, “How about this or this or this?” and go from there with the team.

The real cross-over is with color, a favorite subject of mine. Like with print, Web design, and marketing promotion, different colors evoke different responses and different moods. I can only begin to imagine the effect color has on a person when they are actually surrounded by it. Turns out, it’s huge.

Here are the basics:

Gray is great for graphic designers who do not want their eyes to deceive them when it comes to the color of their work and it will not reflect so much light (like white) and create glare. Gray, as with in graphic design, is a neutral color that has a calming effect and a “solid” feeling. Of course, too much gray gives a feeling of aging, death, and depression. Brown functions in much the same way as gray, both negatively and positively. As far as spurring creativity though, not so much.

Blue evokes a sense of calm and rest and actually causes people to produce chemicals in their brain that are calming. Many bedrooms are blue because of its restfulness. Depending on the shade, people tend to be more productive in a blue room. Seems like the way to go? Well, too much blue can send a cold and uncaring message. Maybe the calming effect will just work perfectly in the conference room or reception area where a business needs it most.

Green is the color of growth, nature, and money. It evokes a sense of stability and wealth; note how many financial institutions use green in their advertising and logos. The color is calming and is the traditional color of peace, harmony, and nurture. Most importantly to an office environment it promotes support and well-paced energy. It also happens to be my favorite (shades of olive, pea, leaf) color as well as my least favorite (shades of hunter, sage) color.

Yellow is associated with cheer, laughter, and happiness. Yellow causes your brain to release more serotonin making you feel optimistic too. On the flip-side, studies show that babies cry more in intense yellow rooms. It can speed up your metabolism and creativity and thusly is recommended for home gyms as well as home offices. I want to use the more golden hues in some parts of the office.

Use red if you want to draw attention in your ads or on your Web site. Red is where the eyes look first and is associated with movement and excitement. As much as I want to throw red everywhere I need to resist the strong urge in the office environment. Excitement and movement are great but it turns out, more fights happen in a red room. It is a passionate, rich color. Instead, I will most likely use it in a room where lights tend to be out (we have a sound editing room where people prefer it cave-like, much like a movie theater) and as accents around the office for visual interest.

A well-thought-out palette will flow well from space to space and, depending on the colors we do choose, the end result will be something that is not only inviting to clients but an environment conducive to creativity and productivity. It might make the work evenings stretch a little later into the night.

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