Colors can be a strong motivating factor when it comes to purchasing a product or service. Your brand can benefit if you understand the impact of color on consumer behavior. Whether you are looking to start your own company or expand your existing business, choosing the right colors can determine how successful you are.
This article will cover everything you need to know regarding branding colors. We will touch on why colors are important and what each color means. Later, we will provide actionable steps with the best practices you can take to choosing your brand’s color palette. First, let’s take a deep dive into why branding colors are so important.
Why Color Matters for Your Business
Color is more than an aesthetic tool. It’s also a powerful branding tool. Color can enhance your brand experience in every way, from product design to website content to social media. There are many ways that color can make an impact on your brand and help you make a lasting and meaningful impression.
Color is naturally appealing which makes it is an easy way to draw attention and, more importantly, stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re trying to stand out on a store shelf or in a social media feed, your brand needs to draw attention. This is something that many brands do so well that you may not even notice it. Imagine Apple without its minimalistic white logo or Google with a monochromatic icon. If both of these well-known brands only used a black logo on a white background, they wouldn’t stand out.
Because color can elicit emotions and influence moods, it is particularly powerful when it comes to motivating a consumer to purchase a product. Color is a powerful way to create a certain emotion or increase your brand’s value.
Honda reported that they were able to increase sales by 35% by having its sales team close sales in a room decorated in a soothing blue color scheme. A Virginia Tech study reported that red web backgrounds encouraged consumers to place higher bids during online auctions.
Business success is dependent on the relationships you create. An emotional bond is the cornerstone of any relationship and color can be used invoke emotional responses. If you want to create the impression that your brand is trustworthy or friendly, choosing the right colors can do that.
Visual content is processed faster than text because your brain is wired for it. Think about the most popular social media networks: Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok: what do all these social networks have in common? They use visuals as their primary means for communication.
Visual stimulation is especially effective for communicating nonverbally. You can make it easier to understand your design by using elements such as color and imagery. You can highlight important information in an infographic or use color to easily visualize data. This makes it easier for people to understand and recall information.
While color can be a tool for your brand, there is no guarantee that the correct color will increase purchases or social shares. However, you can increase your chances of invoking an emotional response to your brand by thinking strategically and deliberately about the color you choose.
What emotions can colors invoke?
Below is a list of colors and the emotional responses that they can invoke on people.
- Red – Red is often associated with danger and anger but it can also be used to represent passion and excitement. When used correctly, the color red also signifies importance because it commands attention.
- Orange – Orange is friendly and fresh. It invokes energy and playfulness. Orange is an invigorating color that is full of vitality.
- Yellow – Yellow is the color most often used to invoke happiness. A yellow happy face has been the cornerstone of emojis since their inception. Yellow can also signify optimism and youth and when used correctly is an eye-catching and appealing color.
- Green – Green, the color of nature, is also the color of money. Green can be used to signify natural, eco-friendly, or sustainability. At the same time, green can also be used to convey prosperity and wealth.
- Blue – While all colors come in many shades, blue is one that means many things depending on the shade.
- A light blue color invokes calmness and reliability. Light blue can also be used to signify sustainability and relaxation.
- A dark blue color is often associated with formality, professionalism, and maturity.
- Purple – Purple is most often used to represent royalty, luxury, and exuberance. When used in a lighter shade, purple can represent spiritualism and mystery.
- Pink – Pink is a symbol of femininity, youth, and romance.
- Brown – Brown gives off a rustic, vintage, and earthy vibe. It is the color that most often is associated with organic products.
- White – White is associated with cleanliness, minimalism, and simplicity.
- Gray – Gray is a neutral color that, when used alongside other colors, can invoke maturity and sophistication.
- Black – Black represents elegance and sophistication. Depending upon how it is used, it can be modern or formal.
- Rainbow – Using multiple colors can be used to signify diversity and inclusion but also represents youthfulness and playfulness.
There is a vast array of colors within the color spectrum in every shade and hue. Each one of them can illicit a different emotional response that cannot be listed here. For now, you should have a general idea of what emotional response each color invokes.
Examples of Famous Brands that use Color
The study of color psychology is fascinating. Entire books have been written on color theory and how it influences our perceptions and behavior. Color psychology allows us to better understand and utilize color especially in our businesses, branding, and marketing.
There are many famous brands that use color to their advantage, but these are some of our favorites.
Target’s brand personality is energetic and loud which is why they chose the color red to represent it.
Rumors suggest that Cadbury’s royal purple was chosen to honor Queen Victoria. Whether or not that is true, has yet to be determined. In 2008, Cadbury was able to trademark their famous purple color that perfectly represents their luxurious chocolate.
Apple’s signature white color represents cleanliness and simplicity. It perfectly aligns with their streamlined and modern products. The color also sets Apple apart from the competition and gives them a feeling of luxury.
McDonald’s key colors are scientifically based. Red raises the heart rate and stimulates the appetite while the signature yellow color represents happiness. The colors were designed to be seen from far away so that you get those feelings long before you ever pass one.
How to choose the right brand colors
There is no right or wrong way to choose your branding colors. It’s hard to give clear and concise guidelines when dealing with abstract concepts like brand identity. However, it is always worthwhile to have some guidance when choosing something so important. In the next session we will be explaining the process of creating a brand color scheme.
Choose your Brand’s Personality
Starbucks uses the color green to invoke a feeling of relaxation and earthiness. Chanel uses black to represent luxury and sophistication. What type of emotion or personality do you want your brand to convey?
First, write down what your primary business goal is and what the brand stands for. Use that information to decide what emotion your brand should illicit. Do your customers want to be happy, or should they feel relaxed?
Next, determine your target audience or customer. Are you looking for young clients or does your business cater to the elderly? Are your ideal customers budget-conscious or wealthy? Are they fun or serious? Write down your ideal customer along with their personality.
Your ideal customers perception of your brand will help narrow down your color choices. If your ideal customer is young and eco-friendly you can narrow down your colors to brown and green. However, if your brand personality needs to appeal to mature personalities that are health conscious you wight want to narrow your choices down to vibrant colors such as yellow or orange.
Check the Colors of Competitors Brands
Your brand colors should be easily identifiable, and it should stand out. You never want your product to be the same as other products, whether it is online or on a shelve. Many people see sunscreen in a sea full of yellow, or tech companies in an ocean full of blue. It’s easy for a product to look the same as another.
Think about the other functions your brand or product has, beyond what is obvious. While sunscreen may protect you from the sun, if it is made sustainably, then green might be an option. Create a mood board full of your competitors brand colors. This will visually allow you to see how you can stand out from them.
Picking Your Brand Colors
Brand color schemes can have anywhere from 1 – 4 colors. Some brands are even monochromatic schemes that use the same color in different shades. Your brand colors will most often be represented by three main colors: the base, the accent, and the neutral.
Choose your base
At this point you should have decided the personality characteristics and emotions of your brand, but which one is the most important? The base color of your brand should not only reflect the dominant personality trait but also be appealing to the audience you are trying to reach. The base color will determine the complimentary colors.
Select your accent
Your accent is the color that is used the most, after the base color. This is more difficult than choosing the base color because it not only has to match your brand’s personality, but it also has to be complimentary to your base color. Narrow down your choices by eliminating any colors that don’t invoke the correct emotional response. Once you determine the color, select the most complimentary shade or hue to match your base color.
Choose a neutral
Most likely, your neutral color is a background color. This color is chosen as a cohesive compliment to your base and accent colors. Gray is the most popular neutral, but whites, blacks, beiges, and tans can also work. However, be careful with black as it tends to overpower other colors in the scheme.
Test your Colors
Whether you’ve fully decided on a color palette or you’re testing the waters with two or three palettes you will want to test them before committing. Test the colors on your logo and make sure its appealing. Try them out on your website and ask visitors for feedback. You can even order some promotional material in the colors to ensure that the colors are cohesive and represent your brand.
Brand guidelines are a must for all brands. This set of rules will govern how your brand looks and how it is used. Using branding guidelines will keep your brand consistent across every platform.
Brand guidelines should include:
- Logos, wordmarks, and submarks.
- The color palette with their HEX codes, RGB values, and CMYK values.
- Icons, patterns, and images. Every visual item that is used to represent your brand should be included.
- Typography information including the font names, sizes, and weight.
- Optional information:
- An overview of your brand
- Mission statement
- Brand’s personality
- Brand history
- Tone and style of voice
Creating brand guidelines allow you to see how your brand appears as a whole and keep that consistent across the board.
Where to Use Brand Colors
You’ve done the hard part, now it’s time to put it to work! Invoking emotional responses and making a lasting impression won’t work if the colors aren’t use properly. Put your colors to use on:
- Social Media
- Print and Digital Advertising
Rules aren’t set in stone for choosing branding colors. This article was created as a general guide and resource to help you make more informed decisions. Your own opinion of your brand matters above all else.