Why Colors Matter

OnLine Newsletter | Summer 2017

Your colors—whether used in a logo, brochure or website—are part of your company’s brand. Colors can make people feel hungry or sated, happy or sad. People bring individual experiences to the meaning of colors, too. For fun examples, watch this video of your peers explaining their favorite colors.

Once you pick your brand’s set of colors, tie those colors into all of the materials produced throughout the year.


Less is More

How many colors should your brand’s color palette include? Follow the rule of thumb designers use for fonts and stick to two or three colors for consistency.

Pick a primary color, then add a color or two that complement or contrast the primary color. Use those colors when you want to draw attention to something.

Remember that less is more. It is nice to have color options when designing for your utility, but you do not need to use all of your options all of the time.


Colorful Examples

Ruralite Services’ member colors are mainly navy blues and forest greens. A few pastels or neon colors are used. For the most part, utilities opt for safe, traditional colors. But as we work to connect with younger consumers, we should consider modern design colors, too.

Consumers Power Inc.’s choice of blue and orange is bold and bright—a good example of a fresh color palette. The complementary colors work well on the logo. The website and magazine pages play the colors off each other to draw attention to headlines and calls to action.

Picture of CPI logo, website and newsletter page.


Umatilla Electric’s logo is another fun example of a bright, friendly color palette. The utility uses one primary color—teal—on its logo and website. A lighter shade of the color is used on the back of the magazine, complementing the primary color.

Picture of UEC's logo and website.

Be Color Blind, Too

Not all communications are in color (business forms, for example), and some utilities do not use color regularly on their magazine pages.

Although powerful, always remember design does not start with color. Some people are so tied to color that it blinds them to the actual design. Color can be a distraction in the early stages of designing a logo or other graphic.

Working on a design? First, see what it looks like in black and white. An easy way to test a design’s strength is to use a photocopier to make a black and white copy of your work. See how the bones of the design or layout—not the color—stand out.