Category Archives: Branding

Online color scheme tools for branding

As promised, here are several web sites with color tools of all sorts. If you’re going to select corporate brand colors, a spectrum of product line packages, or design a “web safe” Internet presence, these tools can be helpful.

But be warned: they can be so absorbing and fascinating that they tend to be time eaters. But if you’ve found just the right combination of compatible colors, it’ll be worth every minute.

Color Schemer Online – choose a color and receive a color scheme; lighten or darken the color scheme, and get the color hex codes.

HyperGurl Website Color Match – scroll down to the bottom half of the page to play with the color tool. ColorShades – lighter and darker Web color hexidecimal codes and swatches.

Color Scheme Maker Tool – create and view a mockup of your own color scheme.

Color Chart Based on Shades – see tints and shades of colors together to help you decide between them.

Color Scheme Generator – online color scheme generator based on the color wheel.HGB color wheel

Online Color Chart Picker – play with colors and get their hex codes.

Get the Color Palette from an Image – enter the URL of an image (size 25k or under) and get the image’s color palette.

Note: I picked up this list from the vast arsenal of tools for Internet authority site builders at I’m a paid member so I have access to all their resources. If you’re interested in exploring authority site creation using a blog format, click ASC.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips: Number 55 in a series

I’ve been running a series within this series about creating coined words as brand name candidates.

Here’s another technique.

But this one doesn’t have a unique designation – until now.

I’ve not seen it discussed anywhere else so I guess I’ve got the right to name it. I’ll call this technique “consonant coupling”

Consonant coupling (not the same as doubling consonants like “tt” in “little”) is based on the fact that some consonant pairings routinely exist in language. For instance: “st”, “br”, “ph” are coupled consonants.

Anyway, if you have a list of appropriate words you’ve associated with the  offering you’re naming, scan the list looking for those that begin with “b”, “c”, “d”, “f”, “g”, “k”, “p”, “s”, “t”, ”w”, and are immediately followed by a vowel.

Now you can create new words by adding a second consonant that naturally couples with the first consonant. For instance, look what happens to “salt” when you add the second consonant: “shalt”, “skalt”, “smalt”, “snalt”, “spalt”, “stalt”, “swalt”.

You can also look for those words that begin with a consonant that is often the second letter of a consonant coupling and add an appropriate first consonant. Thus, “ring” can become “bring”, “cring”, “dring”, “fring”, “gring”, “kring”, “pring”, “tring” or “”wring”.

Inventions like these are rarely fruitful, but it only takes a minute or so to review your list in this manner, and you’ll never know when that one “AHA” pops up.

Martin Jelsema

Three-color palettes sufficient to define a brand

Again, I’m posting about color combinations you might wish to use to help identify your brand. Colors, both in combination and alone, invoke emotional responses.

Once you have established what attributes your brand should convey, you can then, and only then, ask a graphics designer to develop a palette for your brand. As I’ve stated before, the palette not only colors your logo, it should be used within promotional literature, store fixtures, delivery trucks and other touch-point objects associated with the brand.

Today I am going back to the handy little book, Color Image Scale by Shigenobu Kobayashi, where his three-year research with the Nippon Color and Design Research Institute is presented. They had “matched 130 basic colors and over 1,000 color combinations to 180 key image words, allowing you the expression of any mood, lifestyle, or taste through the creative use of color combinations.”

Using the book’s index I looked up the term “vigorous” as a mood I might want to impart to my brand. Listed were three different color combinations which I’ll attempt to match the designated colors below.

Note: Color matching the printed cmyk 4-color ink process to hexadecimal screen color designations is tricky, so the examples may vary from those actually printed in the book. And they may look different on your monitor than they do on mine, even if I stay with “web-safe” colors.

But here goes: three combinations to help me express a vigorous brand image.

 Three examples of three-color combinations suggesting vigor

There are several web sites that provide color-matching models that can be used for developing brand palettes. Though not as authoritative as Color Image Scale, they can be helpful, particularly if your brand is web-based.

Next blog on color will list them for you.

Martin Jelsema

Nonprofit taglines: no better than commercial slogans

Nancy Schwartz blogs about non-profit marketing issues at Getting Attention.

Right now she’s conducting a survey about the effectiveness of taglines in the non-profit sector. If you’re involved with a non-profit, you’re encouraged to take part. Just click on Non-profit tagline survey.

Nancy’s doing this study because, in her words, “Effective taglines complement an organization’s name, convey the unique value it delivers to its community and differentiates it from the competition,” she says. “But more often, nonprofit taglines are vague, ambiguous, over-reaching, too abstract or simply non-existent.”

Well, Nancy, non-profit taglines are just one category of slogan that fits that last description, as anyone following this blog can attest. In fact, many are so sorry that the organizations would be better off without them because they just raise the question, “what does that mean?”.

Nancy promises to send you a copy of the final report if you request it. So if you’re connected to a non-profit, why not visit the survey?

Martin Jelsema

Naming tips: Number 54 in a series

Continuing with descriptions of coined-word names, this post concerns alternatively-spelled words.

This may be the oldest form of coined word, going back to the origins of packaged goods. Uneeda biscuits comes to mind. They were founded in 1898 and were the first product of National Biscuit Company, A company that later become a coined-word name as well – Nabisco (clipped, then tacked).

Anyway, the idea is usually to phonetically spell a descriptive word or phrase. This may or may not be a good idea. If you’re “borrowing” another’s trademark by changing the spelling, it’s a bad idea. You may be violating that trademark. Usually, the courts base their decision upon whether consumers get confused.

And like many descriptive names, companies tend to outgrow them if they have an active product development program.

You’ve seen many an alternatively-spelled name, and often not even realize it. In parts of the country at least, there’s a pharmacy chain called “Rite-Aid”. You’ll see a lot of “Dunrite”s in any metro telephone directory.

I’ve dabbled in alternatively-spelled names, but so far no client has embraced one of my creations.

And I’m just as happy they haven’t.

It’s a “wimpy” technique for naming.

Martin Jelsema

Brands deserve a palette of color

I blogged last week about two-color combinations for branding purposes.

But I was unclear about one thing: the logo need not be more than one-color.

I got a comment concerning the Coca-Cola logo being just one color, so I must be “full of it”. Well, I may be. But I was referring to a brand’s palette.

First of all, I recommend that for your logo  get a one-color version so it can be reproduced in a newspaper ad or on an “ad specialty” item. You may find in today’s world of digital printing and web-based brands that you can afford to use a multi-color logo quite often. But it’s good to have the flexibility to go black on white.

Now, what is a brand palette?

It’s a set of colors to be associated with the brand. It could be a palette of two, three or more colors depending upon application.

If it’s a product, it may be the dominant package color. If you differentiate members of a product family by package color, all those colors are part of the palette. Color is only one way to differentiate – you may opt for large type or a visual instead. But color can be effective in this context. You’ll want to co-ordinate the colors you use with the logo color as well. This may dictate a black-ink logo, or perhaps a reverse of white.

The color of the actual product may also be part of the brand palette, particularly when packaging is transparent or non-existent.

If you’re branding a clothing store, an airline or an amusement park, your palette is an important and integral component of your “trade dress”. Along with type selection for signs, counter design and placement, uniforms, and several business-specific elements, integrated colors for interiors, exteriors, equipment, fixtures, vehicles and uniforms comprise trade dress.

But if yours is a service business, you may want to pay attention to your brand’s palette. If you provide clients with recommendations, reports, proposals in a professional folder or binder, pay attention to the color. Even the colors selected for your office walls is part of your brand’s palette.

So there’s more to color consideration for your brand than the color of your logo.

Oh, one more thing: as far as a brand palette is concerned, consider white to be a color. The Coca-Cola red is always associated with white: it’s the consistent background that sets off the familiar red of the logo and the can.

Martin Jelsema

Naming Tips – number 53 in a series

The last several posts in this series have addressed the often-strange world of coined name candidates. I’ll continue with that theme here.

Another type of coined word for brand name candidates is termed “combined words”.

Here, two words, probably with little previous association to build some tension, are just shoved together. The space between them has been eliminated.

Ideally, the letters that adjoin are vowel and consonant, because pronouncing and spelling names of this construction are usually easier. But you can use devices such as hyphens or a period. Also, you can set the two words apart by capitalizing the first letter of the second word, or by capitalizing, italicizing or bolding either the first or second word but not both. The most difficult of combined words are when the first word ends and the second word begins with a vowel. Even with t typographic “trick” these are still awkward.

Here are some examples of combined-word name candidates:


One source of ideas for combined-word brand names are the dictionaries of idioms, slang, clichés and phrases. I suspect you won’t find many ready-made names here, but they can spark ideas. You can go through them with two or three keywords in your mind and see how they might be substituted for one of the words of a listed phrase. When a combination “works” you have an association with the phrase and with your keyword.

For instance, I just opened Roget’s Thesaurus of Phrases to “paddy wagon”. If I were naming a new baby carriage, “Paddipram” came to mind.

Hope you’re enjoying this series. If so please let me know. Just click on “Comments” below.

Martin Jelsema

Descriptive brand names are dead-end names

Yesterday another company announced it had changed its name.

I’ve keep a tickler file of such announcements.

And yesterday’s announcement fits the most typical name change scenario.

Simply put, the company had outgrown its name.

Successful companies do that – if they originally opted for a descriptive name.

That’s the problem. In the beginning, the company wanted short-term identification with an industry or product category by adopting a name that described their business. They do this without thought to the company’s future.

The last name change I was involved in would have cost the company – a regional construction supply company – around $50-thousand. They opted to retain their name (_______________ Staple Company) because of the expense. Now their sales force must explain to prospects that they can also supply ______, ___________, and ______________ even thought the company’s name just indicates staples.

The solution is to not adopt a descriptive name. How could a company like Go-Daddy that began life selling domain names exclusively grow as rapidly as it has if their name had been ABC Domain Names, Inc.? The major players in hi-tech today are usually coined word names, suggestive names or arbitrary names.

Those types of names will require some getting used to by the company founders, and they will need to be promoted before they become household names.

The brand platform, or at least a naming brief, should be created before people start suggesting names for a start-up. With all the strategic concepts outlined in a brief, appropriate, non-descriptive name candidates are likely to flow. Opt for one that will grow with your company, no matter where that growth will come from.

Martin Jelsema