Brand Colors – Picking the Perfect Palette
Emotions are powerful when it comes to making decisions and so, as a brand, you want to make sure that you are connecting emotionally to your customers. Since you can’t tell your complete brand story with just a logo, colors and the emotions they evoke are key components to expressing your brand’s personality and reaching your customer’s hearts.
Research shows that colors increase brand recognition by up to 90%; it also shows that people make a subconscious decision within the initial 90 seconds of viewing – and that between 62 and 90% of this assessment is based on color alone.
A look into color psychology
Understanding color psychology can help determine your color palette. Since different colors convey different meanings, keep in mind how you want your customers to feel as they interact with your brand. Below are some common colors and associations to those colors :
Excitement, passionate, energetic, motivated, strong, love
Active, happy, playful, creative, friendly, enthusiastic
Optimistic, cheerful, confident, happy, warmth, energy
Nature, healing, calming, balanced, fresh, cheerful
Professional, authentic, trustworthy, stability, serene, focused
Regal, spiritual, mystery, creativity, wisdom, soothing
Romance, happiness, kindness, calmness, nurturing, refreshing
Reliability, strength, security, warmth, comfort, rugged
Powerful, bold, luxurious, sophisticated, mysterious, edgy
Neutral, subdued, calm, classic, serious, mature
Peaceful, freshness, simplicity, cleanliness, security, purity
Choosing primary & secondary colors
When picking a palette, start with looking at the color associated with the brand attribute that’s most likely to appeal to your target audience as your primary color, and then choose accent secondary colors that pair best with that color while still reflecting your attributes and audience. It’s always a good idea to pick a neutral (such as black, white, ivory, gray, silver, tan, beige or silver) as one of your colors to use for text and neutral backgrounds.
Your accent colors can follow one of the three color theory schemes below:
Monochromatic palettes are different tints (created by mixing a color with pure white) or shades (created by mixing a color with pure black) of your primary color.
Analogous palettes are composed of the colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. They are usually either all cool colors (such as blues and greens) or all warm colors (such as oranges and reds).
Complementary palettes are opposite to each other on the color wheel, so they include a mix of both warm and cool colors.
Triadic palettes are composed of hues that are equally spaced around the color wheel, forming a triangle.
Depending on the direction of your brand, you might decide to mix and match some of these palettes. For example, if you choose two monochromatic colors but want to add a bit of balanced vibrancy, you can pick a color complementary to your primary color on the color wheel.
There are no rules to the exact number of colors you should have for your brand, but generally speaking, a variety of 1-6 colors works well for most brands. Keep in mind that these colors will not necessarily appear in every single instance of your brand – if your logo is black for example, not every color will appear in your logo. However, the colors will have a role in supporting collateral and are tools in your brand identity as a whole.
Know your audience and your competition
Generally speaking, certain colors, regardless of the emotions they evoke, tend to appeal differently to various audiences based on gender, culture, age and geographic location. For example, if your target audience is primarily male, choosing purple and orange as your primary colors might not get the best result; research shows that 22% of men choose purple as their least favourite color (tied at the highest percentage with orange).
It’s also important to see what your competition is doing within your industry and determine your strategy. Are you trying to compete directly or stand out? Depending on your industry, your offering and your strategy, you might want to stick to some industry standard colors, or you may want to step outside the box to stand out with a unique palette.
Ultimately, having an appropriate color palette that draws in your ideal customers and evokes emotions that are directly in line with your brand attributes are vital in creating a successful and memorable brand identity.