If you’re here, then you probably have some questions about branding colors. We’ll cover some basics, like why they’re important and how they work before delving into our 4 step process to help you simplify your branding. So, let’s start!
Why Branding Colors Matter
What do you think of when you hear the word shamrock? You probably get more of an emotional response than if you heard the word “rock”.
Emotions are powerful and drive decision making. What will make a customer pick you over a competitor? An emotional connection.
The problem is you can’t tell your whole story… in 10 seconds. However, you can provide a shortcut to your client’s emotions through branding colors!
The book Color Psychology and Color Therapy by Faber Birren talks extensively about the link between colors and our emotional state. Just like shamrock and rock elicit different emotions, colors like blue and green create different human responses as well. Even more interesting, the same colors tend to provoke a similar response in different people.
Where you will use Branding Colors
How consumers feel about a brand has more pull than what they think. Now that you know how certain colors evoke certain emotions you have the ability to directly impact your sales and performance!
Repetition of the same color strengthens brand awareness. What color is ketchup? It’s not purple for a reason. Heinz’s certainly learned their marketing lesson with that fiasco!
Here are the most common places you’ll use branding colors:
- Print/Web Ads
Using the same colors in all these areas strengthens your brand’s association with those colors, and increases brand awareness. Your target audience begins to associate a certain color with your brand.
So, choose your branding colors carefully. They’ll have a direct influence on your brand identity. Your favorite color might be red, but that might be the worst color to choose for your business goals.
A good example is an accounting firm. Red would be a horrible color choice, as red in accounting usually refers to an account “in-the-red” or with no or a negative balance. No-one wants to work with a company they associate with such a negative feeling!
What do different branding colors mean?
Red – passion, excitement, hunger, anger, or action. It signifies something important and commands attention.
Orange – playfulness, vitality, creativity, enthusiasm, and friendliness. This is an open friendly color, while not as commanding as red it ads a bit of fun.
Yellow – happiness, youth, optimism, wealth (more gold) but also portrays warning. Add a bit of positivity to your website with yellow.
Green – stability, prosperity, growth, nature, or generosity. Negatively it can portray envy or rot. Health and fitness is a good niche to use green.
Blue – trust, loyalty, professionalism, security, formality, maturity, peace, calm. Conversely blue can show depression or coldness. Many retailers add their trust certifications or free shipping in blue.
Purple – royalty, nobility, creativity, wisdom, spirituality, and luxury. Too much purple causes feelings of frustration or arrogance. Purple is a strong color, so hints of it are best.
Pink – femininity, youth, innocence, playfulness, and unconditional love. Mostly used to serve a female audience, in recent years it has been tastefully used to attract male audiences as well.
Brown – rugged, earthy, old-fashioned, comfort, and security. Oftentimes used for natural products and food.
White – cleanliness, virtue, health, simplicity, innocence, humility. However, in other cultures white has the opposite meaning!
Gray – neutrality, balance, classic, serious, and mysterious. The negative meaning links to depression and loss, the absence of color can make it seem dull.
Tones, Tints, and Shades
Before we go into choosing colors we’ll cover these terms and how they have an effect on how we perceive color.
Tones are created by added black and white to pure colors. When you hear someone say a color needs to be toned down, that means it’s too intense. Adding varying amounts of black and white to a color subdues the intensity.
Tints of color are created by mixing white with a pure color. They convey a lighter, more peaceful and less energetic feel.
Shades of color are created by mixing black with a pure color. They communicate a more mysterious, muted, masculine feel.
Determine Your Color Combination
There’s no one “right” way to pick your colors and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. However, there are guidelines and recommendations based on your industry, business and what’s already saturating the market. We’ll cover more of that later.
Here are the 4 basic color schemes you’ll base your colors on (you’ll usually only use one to start):
Monochromatic – One color in many shades and tints.
Analogous – Colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel.
Complementary – Colors opposite each other on the color wheel, includes both warm and cool colors.
Triadic – Colors that are evenly spaced 3 colors apart on the color wheel (they form a triangle).
1. Gather inspiration
Go forth and research! Keep in mind the end goal: what kind of color scheme will you be using? Plan on choosing 3 colors to start with: your base, accent and a neutral. Typically, brands will use one of the 4 schemes listed above: monochromatic, analogous, complementary or triadic.
What are your competitors doing? You most definitely don’t want to copy them. Be sure you do some research so your brand colors stand out in the marketplace.
Does your industry have a typical “color” range? Such as the food industry: red, or healthcare: blues.
2. Determine Your Base Color
These will be your go-to colors. You can always add more accent colors later, but these should always be used in every piece of your marketing and branding.
Your base color should reflect your most dominant brand personality trait. You can read more about brand personality here in our blog Brand Your Business with 6 Key Steps.
3. Choose Your Accent Color
Your accent color is the most used following your base color. This color is a bit tricky, because not only does it need to match your chosen brand personality, but your accent must pair with your base color and match your target audience.
4. Choose Your Neutral Color
Your neutral color is usually a background color, something that doesn’t grab attention. White is the most common one, but you don’t have to fill “white space” with white! Different hues of gray, beige and off-whites work as well. You could also use black, but use caution it tends to dominate the color scheme its a part of.
In conclusion, there really are no hard and fast rules with dealing with abstracts like brand color, brand identity, and brand personality. This can be a daunting task, but hopefully this brief overview gives you a starting point.
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