Colour is a vital element that needs strong consideration when building a visual identity. If applied consistently and effectively it can instantly assist consumers in their recognition of a company or product. Arguably more powerful than a logo when used correctly (think EasyJet), the decision towards chosen brand colours is often made against competitors as a means of greater stand out in a given sector.
The importance for clear differentiation has inevitably led to the search for trademark protection – probably the best-known recent example being Cadbury. Although they may have lost their legal battle against Darrell Lea, they won the war and now have protection against competitors using Pantone 2865 (purple) for chocolate packaging.
Tiffany & Co have a trademark against ‘Robin’s Egg Blue’ for jewellery boxes and bags, and UPS have ‘Pullman Brown’ for parcel delivery but they’re only enforceable within a defined sector. Trademarking therefore does not enable you to truly ‘own’ a colour, but being able to ‘own’ consumers’ associations between a colour and product or service is undeniably more valuable.
Ever noticed how many logos appear to be smiling at you? It has been said that there are around 50 types of smiles that humans use, most of which can be understood immediately. This could be one of the reasons why so many designers have adopted it as a device. In much the same way as you would select that one particular ‘emoji’ out of the range of 18 simple smiley yellow faces, the clever use of a curved line or shape can appear to tell the viewer a very particular message.
Many of these examples integrate a hidden message along with this device, such as ‘Amazon’ using its smile to show they sell everything from A to Z and ‘National Express’ taking you from one location to the next. Although, it is through an example like ‘Argos’ that a smile is symbolized for the clear purpose of conveying a particular emotion and value. With its smile stretching the full length of the logotype, it gives a welcoming, friendly tone coupled with a confident perception from it’s controlled curvature.
Above all, the smile’s ability to be understood universally is what makes the device so useful. It is unlikely that smiling at someone in a different country would give the undesired reaction. In general everyone likes and wants to feel happy so a brand who can suggest they will make their customers smile is an attribute that would clearly explain its popularity.