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The Power of Color: An In-Depth Look at the Top Shades in Branding

Color can make you feel. Make you pay attention or remember. Color is one of the most powerful tools for communicating and evoking emotion. Yet it is often misused or underused.

While the topic of color theory, color psychology and the effects of color in advertising is broad, we will focus on the top three colors used in large law firm branding and how those colors can influence a potential client's impression.

COLOR’S EMOTIONAL RESPONSE

A study called “Impact of Color on Marketing” found that people form impressions within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with people or products — and up to 90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.

Color can enhance emotions such as excitement, anxiety, depression and relaxation. It can stimulate or dampen appetite. It can even affect the perception of temperature. While such reactions can be shaped by personal experiences, there are commonalities. For example: Brighter shades of color generally elicit more energetic feelings while darker shades feel more relaxing. These commonalities can be used when choosing colors for brands, marketing, websites and communication.

In 2018, All-State Legal conducted a survey of the top 500 law firms as determined by the National Law Journal. Additional information was collected in a survey of over 300 firms. From that, we’ve deduced how color is used and understood at some of the largest American law firms.

1. BLUE

Blue is associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence and intelligence. Blue inspires feelings of calmness and security. More than 45 percent of large law firms use blue in their branding.

Blue is also very versatile in design. It can be vibrant and friendly or cool and steady. And when used with warm colors — like yellow or red — it can create high-impact, memorable designs. When surveyed, one firm said that the blue logo “gives the impression of steadiness, trust, professionalism and prestige.” Light blue is generally refreshing, bringing a soft, calming energy to any brand. Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity and seriousness.

2. RED

Red is associated with energy and passion. It symbolizes strength, power and determination. Red inspires feelings of importance. More than 26 percent of large law firms use red in their branding.

The color red attracts attention, making it useful in branding and marketing. It can be used to make people make quick decisions, which is why it is often found in “buy now” buttons. Bright red is generally associated with boldness, energy and passion. Dark red, burgundy and maroon represent power, endurance and leadership.

Brighter shades of color generally elicit more energetic feelings while darker shades feel more relaxing. These commonalities can be used when choosing colors for brands, marketing, websites and communication.

3. GREEN

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, stability and freshness. Green inspires feelings of safety. It is also associated with money. More than 15 percent of large law firms use green in their branding.

The color green is a balanced color that stands out next to both warm colors (red, orange and yellow) and cool colors (blue and purple). Green suggests stability and endurance. Light or bright green is generally associated with friendliness, youth and endurance. Dark green represents wealth, ambition and determination.

UNDERUSED COLORS

Employing any of these underused colors can instantly make a firm stand out in a sea of blue, red and green just by being different.

1. YELLOW

Yellow is associated with energy and intellect. It symbolizes success, understanding and creativity. Yellow inspires feelings of confidence. Yet only 1 percent of large law firms use yellow in their branding. (When you include gold in the yellow family, that number jumps to nearly 16 percent.)

2. ORANGE

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It symbolizes enthusiasm, success and creativity. Orange inspires feelings of determination and encouragement. Nonetheless, only 5 percent of large law firms use orange in their branding.

3. PURPLE

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. It symbolizes healing, wisdom, strength and ambition. Purple inspires feelings of dignity, creativity and mystery. Only 1 percent of large law firms use purple in their branding.

ACCENT COLORS

The colors black, gray and brown are often used in multi-color logos and as accent colors to the more vibrant colors discussed above.

THE POWER OF COLOR

It is true that color can affect perception, memory and emotions. Additionally, personal experiences, surroundings and circumstances can shape that perception. However, every firm can use the power of color to project their culture, brand and image.