Rescue 101: Start Branding with Color Theory

North Star Rescue's Adoption Event Booth

Blue canopy, blue table, blue on the banners and complimentary colors pull this booth together at North Star Rescue’s adoption event.

Branding might not be a term that you associate with rescue, but it’s something that is an important aspect of creating a memorable image for any type of business whether it’s a for-profit group or a charity group. Everyone knows Coca Cola by their signature Red, or Pepsi by their Red and Blue logo. Keeping consistent with a color theme or palette in your displays is an easy way to help polish your overall image and help people recognize you at a glance as you become more known in your community.

If you are just starting out your own rescue, odds are that you can’t afford a consultation with a professional marketing firm that will help you get a start on crafting your overall image, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to build your brand image on your own. The simplest way to start thinking about branding is to think about the color or colors that you will associate with your rescue.

Where is this color palette going to show up?

The short answer is: everywhere. Once you pick a primary color for your rescue, or a set of complimentary colors, you’ll find a hundred ways to apply them. Your website will be designed with these theme colors. Your logo will include these colors. You’ll use them as borders in your signing on cages, and have tablecloths for your event tables in the same shades. You’ll put the color on your banners and outdoor signing materials. You’ll buy file folders in these colors to keep your rescue paperwork sorted, or balloons to tie outside of a fundraiser to show people where you are.

Learning about Color Theory

You don’t need to get a full in-depth education on color theory, but it helps to get an idea of the basics to make a decision on what kind of image you portray. Color is a powerful thing and people will make different associations with different colors before they even get to know the company behind them. For example, warm colors (such as reds, oranges and yellows) are associated more with energy and passion, where cool colors (such as blues, purples and greens) are associated with calmness or security.

You’ll find that different combinations of colors are complimentary or pop when placed together. You can make something eye-catching by using a purple background and yellow to grab someone’s attention because they contrast well.

There are plenty of great articles on the web about color theory, and you can start with Lifehacker’s article Learn the Basics of Color Theory to Know What Looks Good. You can also take some inspiration from Business Insider’s overview of color in their article How Brands Use The Psychology Of Color To Manipulate You for some good examples on how large companies use color to portray themselves in different ways.

Choosing a Simple Color Pallette

When you are choosing your colors, think about colors that are going to be easy for you to find in other applications. While you might be set on a beautiful shade of green-blue Celadon, this isn’t going to be a color that you are going to find materials widely made in. Think in basic color terms, if you choose to go with Blue as a base you’ll find items in Light Blue, Royal Blue and Navy Blue readily available for purchase on a variety of products you might use.

When choosing colors for North Star Rescue, I decided on Blue and Yellow/Gold since they tied in with the rescue name, with the yellow or gold being for the ‘star’ portion and blue being evocative of the sky (where you would see the North Star). I prefer to use a rich royal blue for the rescue’s materials and signing, and found that I was able to find table cloths and skirts for event booths, storage bins, clip boards and all kinds of things that would tie in to my color scheme easily.

Consider Printing Needs when Choosing Colors

Your color pallette is going to show up in things like your printed care brochures, business cards, or anything that you put your logo on which might use those colors. Printing in color can be significantly more expensive than printing in black and white, and this cost can go up considerably when you are printing in multiple colors. You might not see this cost when printing simple paper documents with color on them, it’s generally going to be a set cost for black and white or color no matter how many colors are included, but when you get in to printing business cards or having things printed onto T-Shirts your cost will go up by the color. A good rule of thumb is to try to limit the colors you use in a print out to three or less, including black. Many printing services charge an additional fee for color above three colors in a design.

About Lauren Paul

Lauren is the founder of North Star Rescue, a non-profit organization in California’s San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to the rescue and welfare of companion pet rodents. Lauren operates Alma Rodentia, a website featuring an online store for pet rodents and their humans and a blog about rescue and life with pet rodents.

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