When it comes to fonts and colours, we know more than we think. Even if you’re not a designer, you recognise brands just by seeing the colours. Choosing the right typeface and colour scheme defines your brand, it showcases your personality. You have to establish your brand’s mission statement, you want your customers to know what you sell just by looking at your logo.
Brands establish themselves through their aesthetic choices. How do you feel when you look at the ASOS website? How about Michael Kors, or Swarovski, or Tiffany & Co.? No matter the brand, no matter the feeling, there’s a designer behind it who intended to make you feel that way. This applies to all brands, not just clothing brands. There are a lot of factors which make a brand’s visuals unique, from colour, to font, to web layout. It’s important to know your target audience and your selling point.
Take ASOS, for instance. Their aesthetic choices are well established and help their website and catalogues to feel comprehensive and always on brand. They use big bold fonts. They have a vibrant colour pallette and lots of padding around their images. They’re on trend, and feel accessible and affordable but not like cheap fast fashion. As ASOS’s audience is 18-35 year olds and they are starting to focus on sustainability as well as good quality, they’ve addressed their target audience directly whilst still establishing themselves as bold tastemakers.
We’re all aware of how colour works to some extent. When you walk into a supermarket, their goal is for you to buy their products. Have you ever noticed how you see the fruit and veg first? Your eye line is full of nice bright colours to boost your mood and get you spending money. Colour plays a big part in how the brain perceives things; whether you know it or not, your subconscious does. Colours like blue portray stability, harmony, peace, calm and trust, whereas red portrays excitement, passion, danger, energy and action.
Facebook is a great example of utilising the colour blue for their brand. It’s all about trust as they hold a lot of personal information, so a sense of stability and harmony are important in order to drive a great user experience. This all happens on a subconscious level: your brain doesn’t realise that the blue is helping you as a user feel calm, which in turn stimulates your mind to scroll endlessly.
Virgin is one of the most recognisable companies. The vibrant red can be seen from far and wide, whether on their balloons, planes, or billboards. It’s exciting. It’s all about passion and energy. Excitement is what a lot of people are seeking when they book trips involving flying, and the instantly recognisable red and white logo can, on a subliminal level, help to inspire that.
Fonts can have the same effect on how we perceive a brand. A large bold sans serif font would suit ASOS, whereas a serif font would suit a designer brand such as Michael Kors, who’s target market is older and more affluent. A company like Tiffany & Co. has a different style guide. For a more elegant look, pastel colours have been used, along with their logo which is a serif font. There’s a lot of negative space which allows their website to breathe, and the designers utilise very clean lines for a refined aesthetic.
Pretty Little Thing is a great example of a good use of a sans serif typeface. It uses a large font size within a box, drawing the eye from the rest of the homepage, almost making it impossible not to read. This tactic, mixed with vibrant colours, is perfect for their young target audience (14-24 year olds) as it demands attention quickly. It’s a great representation of the fast-fashion brand that they are.
However, a brand such as Prada is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Prada has a serif typeface for their logo. The colour palette is black and white just like a lot of other high end design labels. This portrays mystery and elegance, along with a sense of classy refinement that attracts their affluent audience who appreciate subtlety over lurid or obviously attention grabbing branding.
Choosing the correct font is easier than it might seem. Notice how a bold italic font suits a car theme. The italic slant is the car in motion and the boldness of the font makes you sit up and pay attention. There’s always a reason for choosing the right font. It’s why we know something is a high end design label or why it’s a cheap fast food restaurant.
Considering design choices as basic as colour when trying to sell to your target audience is key. If you were selling a product aimed at women, you’d assume bright purple or pink, or maybe pastel colours in lighter, less saturated shades. As for men, ideally blue or maybe green. Most unisex themes favour the more “male oriented” colours like blues and greens, or neutral colours and shades. Blue is a very popular colour, slightly favoured by men, but it’s a safe choice. It’s trustworthy.
So where do black and white lie? Black and white portray a similar feeling: sophistication, simplicity, mystery, power and elegance. A lot of top designer brands will use these two colours for their logo. Just to name a few: Gucci, D&G, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, the list goes on.
There are, of course, brands or ideas known for their use of colours. Any coming to mind? Pride! Accepting of all colours and all people. It’s a combination of six vibrant colours. These colours all have meaning. Red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and purple for spirit. Chances are, when you see every brand you follow on social media suddenly turn rainbow coloured, it’s Pride month. This combination of colours (very successfully) signals an ideal to consumers, so it’s a great marketing tool to sell your products. A lot of clothing brands incorporated the pride colours into their logos or onto their web pages and social platforms in order to take advantage of the month.
So let’s add the right font and a suitable colour palette together and we potentially have a logo for the correct target audience. If you’re successful, you don’t need to look for the name to recognise the brand, you just know. Our brains will recognise the shop, brand or restaurant, just by seeing the colours and possibly the logo from afar. This is now more than just a font and a colour pallet, this is a brand.
So there it is, the importance of colour and fonts within ecommerce. On an instinctive level it’s important to listen to how you feel and understand your thought process upon seeing certain colours, layouts and fonts. Learning to use them to your advantage can take some time, but remember that you should always be able to get a feel for a brand through their design aesthetic: their price point, their products, their purpose. So make your choices carefully! The internet is your friend and there’s loads of information out there if you need more guidance, so go ahead and do some research! Just remember: always avoid Comic Sans.