Updated: Oct 20, 2020
One of the most challenging parts about branding is selecting the perfect brand colours. This task is not for the indecisive. Beyond the endless number of hues you can choose for your business, each one carries cultural and emotional connotations you need to be aware of. There is much to know about branding and colours. Here are five things to help you make deliberate and significant colour choices for your brand’s visual identity.
1. UNDERSTANDING COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY IN BRANDING
Before you can begin your brand colour selection, you need to familiarize yourself with some colour psychology. The colour meaning in design is a big part of the brand strategy process. You already know many of the common associations colours can have, but there may be a few that you hadn’t thought of. Here are some common emotional affiliations to colours and well known companies that fall into those colour categories:
Having a proper understanding of how different colours — especially in the context of your brand — will resonate with people is so important. You want to carefully consider your audience and how you are trying to connect with them visually and emotionally.
In What Target Audience is Your Brand Designed For? I go over the importance of creating ideal customer profiles. What this does is it allows you to paint a picture of not only who they are but how they behave, what their hobbies are, and so forth. All of these elements will influence your branding and colour choice.
2. THE STRATEGY BEHIND BRANDING AND COLOURS
When choosing the best brand colours for your business, consider your company’s values and what emotions you’re trying to evoke in your audience. Using the graphic above as a reference, start making a list of the colours that identify most with your business’ core values. Start thinking of the one or two colours that might best represent your brand.
You’ll also want to look at your competitors and see what colours they use in their branding. It’s not unusual to have a common colour trend among brands within an industry. What I encourage you to do is explore possibilities where you may be able to differentiate yourself from your competition using your branding and colours.
Take Tangerine bank for example. Their branding and colour choice is a high contrast to the status quo of most banks, many of which are blue. Tangerine’s entire brand message is about doing things differently than the big banks. They are all about friendliness and empowering their clients. Orange was a perfect choice for them and makes their brand highly distinguishable in their industry.
There’s also something attractive about a brand that is so deliberately doing things differently. That, too, generates curiosity and promotes a positive brand experience.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential brand colours, start exploring tones of those hues. Each colour will have an array of shades (darker) and tints (lighter) as well as blends of colours to help you find your ideal tone.
What I encourage you to do is explore possibilities where you may be able to differentiate yourself from your competition using your branding and colours.
3. YOUR LOGO DOESN’T NEED YOUR ENTIRE BRAND IDENTITY COLOUR PALETTE
When it comes to your logo, you’ll want to include that signature colour but you don’t need every one of your brand colours. Depending on the logo’s design, you may be able to pull off a single colour concept. What is good about this approach is that your brand becomes synonymous with that colour. Think Netflix, Cadbury, and National Geographic.
Whether you decide to follow the signature colour method or not, one piece of advice I will offer is not to get too carried away with colour in your logo design.
If you look at logos from the top brands of any industry, you’ll see that nearly all of them contain only one, maybe two, brand colours in their logo. Go ahead and Google “famous brands” and you’ll immediately see how most of them use no more than two colours.
When do you use a multicolour approach for a logo? Brands like NBC, Google, eBay all do because they offer a myriad of things as a brand. NBC has a range of television programs for all. Google is literally about endless results and eBay is a platform that has anything you want to buy or sell. Their multicolour logos represent their large spectrum of offerings.
Understanding your business and how you’re positioning yourself as a brand will influence your choice for branding and colours.
4. KNOW YOUR OPTIONS FOR BRANDING COLOUR SCHEMES
You might ask yourself, how many brand colours should my company have? There is no right or wrong answer but the taking time in your brand strategy phase to determine what aligns best for your values and those of your audience is worth its weight in gold. (Ooh, gold💡). Let’s look at a few branding colour schemes you can consider:
Monochromatic colour brands are those that opt for a key signature colour. If you go monochromatic you may have an accent colour, like Cadbury uses gold. Alternatively you may choose to rely on the tints and shades of your signature brand colour to design your branding colour palette.
As I pointed out earlier, many banks use cool tones in their brand colour schemes. Blue signifies trust, strength and responsibility. Greens can signify prosperity, positivity and stability. Cool tones like greens and blues are relaxing and just plain favourites among the masses.
Many food companies will have warm brand colour schemes, for good reason. They evoke flavour, comfort, energy, heat. Curating a warm branding colour scheme takes careful consideration. Warm branding colours can imply leadership and authority or invoke a craving for food.
Having a range of both warm and cool tones can serve a brand well through contrast and colour harmony. Perhaps your primary colours are cool tones but your supporting palette has a bold warm tone to contrast. Maybe your brand has a range of products that would benefit from a series of colours that would represent each one. Many beverage companies will have signature drinks represented by their own colour code.
Black and White
Some luxury brands like to stick with a black and white colour scheme, sometimes adding a signature pop of colour to add contrast. Brands like BMW, Jimmy Choo, and Versace all follow this principle.
There are a number of ways you can approach colour harmony, from complementary colours to analogous colours. Head over to Adobe Color to play around with different potential branding colour schemes.
5. BREAKING DOWN YOUR BRAND IDENTITY COLOUR PALETTE
When you’ve settled on your brand identity colour palette you’ll want to create a hierarchy for those colours. Most brands have a primary colour palette and a supporting colour palette.
Your primary colours are your signature brand colours and will be used most often. These are the colours generally featured in your logo.
Your supporting colours are used within your brand’s creative but less often than your primary colours. They are generally used as accents and provide contrast in your branding or can be colours that represent particular product lines within your business.
All of the guidelines surrounding your brand colours are formally outlined in your style guide. A consistent brand is a strong brand. When it comes to selecting your branding and colours, do it methodically. I help businesses carefully create their brand’s visual identity. If you want to invest in your brand, let's chat! Crafting a brand you love is what I love to do!