Did you know that almost 93% of buyers make their purchase decisions depending on a brand’s visual identity? With a whopping figure like that, it makes sense to choose the right colors and designs for your logos, packaging, pamphlets, mailings, websites, and other visual collaterals for your business.
From the Red Cross on an ambulance to the yellow helmet of a professional constructor, colors are a quick and easy medium to convey important information about a place, person, or incident. Their powerful and immediate impact makes colors a key element of any effective business branding.
The color palette you choose for your brand plays a dominant role across your various marketing efforts. Using it consistently on all advertising platforms will give a cohesive look and feel to your brand, making it readily recognizable and memorable. Although it’s difficult to determine exactly how a particular color will/won’t impact your brand’s personality, we can provide some quick tips on how to get the game right.
What does ‘brand colors’ mean?
Brand colors are a customized palette of a few colors used to characterize a brand’s personality or original identity. A strategic and consistent portrayal of brand colors can boost brand awareness and audience visibility. Some of the key areas of brand color application include a brand’s logo, product packaging, website home page, social media handles, business card design, billboards, pamphlets, and other forms of print and digital promotions. For businesses with brick-and-mortar stores, the brand colors can also be applicable for the store decor, menu cards, staff uniforms, and more.
Why Using the Right Brand Colors Makes Sense
It’s said that first impressions matter. This is particularly true in the case of branding since your brand color is amongst the first few things noticed by your customers. Aside from conveying certain information about your business, they draw certain emotions and feelings from the onlookers. This helps the audience form an initial idea about your brand without even knowing what you offer.
Simply put, brand colors help customers decide initially if they want to make a purchase from you or not.
You can even consider your brand’s color scheme as a school or work uniform that stands for the institution’s face. For instance, some of the biggest brands like Netflix, Adobe, and Coca-Cola all deal in different products/services but have the same brand color – Red. However, you never mistake Netflix for Coca-Cola – that’s the power of effective branding. Although you cannot take ownership of any color with copyright, you may go for trademarking. For instance, Tiffany Blue is trademarked but exclusively for their packaging boxes.
How Consumers Respond to Brand Colors
Colors dictate a customer’s perception of a brand depending upon the emotions they associate with its products/services. For example, a logo or packaging that’s white, sky blue, or blush pink often evokes a sense of tranquility and relaxation. On the other hand, bright colors like red, orange, or pink will evoke liveliness and excitement.
Did you know that 88 percent of customers consider color as a decisive factor in their vehicle-buying decisions and automobile companies sell a vast majority of their merchandise in white, black, silver, and gray?
Another study confirmed that almost 90% of spontaneous perceptions made about products could be based on colors alone. So, the considerate use of colors can not only help in differentiating your brand from competitors but also influence the consumers’ attitude towards your products/services.
When choosing the right color for your brand, researchers have found that determining consumer reaction to different colors is way more important than deciding the colors themselves. When designing your branding collaterals, research (collect customer feedback) and see if the color/colors are appropriate for what you’re selling.
While certain colors typically align with certain characteristics (e.g., red with passion, excitement, and action), several studies on branding will tell you that it’s more important to use colors that portray your brand’s personality instead of sticking to formulaic color associations. Brands can at times cross between dual traits, though they are typically dominated by one. Determine your brand’s personality and choose colors accordingly.
How to Pick the Right Brand Colors
Before everything else, make sure that you don’t start your color choosing process out of nowhere. In simple words, don’t choose your brand colors all by yourself, unless you’re a seasoned graphic designer. Consider taking the opinion of your employees, team members, and business associates. In case you’re a startup and don’t have a team yet, seek the advice of your friends and family members.
For instance, Facebook groups are a great platform for conducting this kind of market research. Just post a video with your chosen brand colors, narrate your brand story, and request feedback. Read all the comments you receive and understand their significance. Always remember that you’re not choosing the brand colors for yourself, but your audience. If a lot of people opine that the colors you’ve chosen aren’t relevant to your products/services, you need to reconsider your choice. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to choose the right brand colors for your business.
- Recognize your brand personality
Groundwork is important for any kind of branding work, including choosing your brand colors. You must have a clear idea about your business’ personality so you can communicate the same through colors. Else, you may end up feeling confused, wading through endless color options without any definite purpose. For this reason, identify a few adjectives that best define your brand, its motives, and values. Focus on unique features that make your brand stand out from the crowd.
For those already running a business, the ideal way to know your brand personality is to talk to some of your enthusiastic customers. Ask them to tell you what they like or even don’t like about your business. Give them a list of generic brand personality traits, such as the one beneath, and ask them to choose the ones that best describe your brand. If you’re a startup and don’t have many customers yet, ask your colleagues or business associates to do some background research and give you feedback. Here’s how to do it.
- Take a close look at competitor brands in your industry
- Spot the key qualities that’ll make your customers choose you over others
- Use those key characteristics to discover the brand vision that’ll impress your target audience
COMMON BRAND PERSONALITIES
- Work on your primary brand color palette
A brand color palette is typically a collection of 2 or more colors that can be used on a range of platforms to represent your brand. It should include:
- One principal color
- One secondary color to highlight or emphasize certain aspects of your business
- One basic color for your texts (gray or black)
There are mainly 3 types of color schemes:
A monochromatic color scheme has multiple shades of the same principal color. For example, Facebook uses shades of the color blue.
An analogous color scheme uses the dominant color along with one or more colors on the color wheel. For example, McDonalds uses a red and orange/ yellow color scheme.
A complementary color scheme uses the dominant color along with a color opposite to your dominant shade on the color wheel. Firefox, for example, uses a blue and orange/ yellow color scheme.
TIP: Avoid going overboard with multiple colors, as this can confuse the audience and leave them unimpressed. Instead, stick to one or a maximum of two shades for optimum results.
- Choose your color scheme depending on your brand personality traits
Once you know the different color schemes and your brand’s key personality traits, it’s time to create a color palette that best represents those features. And, this is exactly where color psychology comes in. It can help us comprehend the personality traits that the audience usually associates with common colors.
For example, most of the biggest financial and tech companies use blue brand colors. For example, Visa, PayPal, IBM, Samsung, HP, and Morgan Stanley use various shades of blue. This is because the color blue evokes trust, dependability, and strength – all the key characteristics required for running a financial or tech firm. Here are some of the other popular colors and the emotions they evoke.
- Green – peace, growth, health, and eco-conscious (Starbucks and Tropicana)
- Purple – creativity, fun, and wisdom (Barbie and Syfy)
- Red – youth, boldness, and excitement (CNN and Coca Cola)
- Yellow –warmth, clarity, optimism (Nikon and National Geographic Channel)
- Grey – calm, classy, and balanced (Apple and Puma)
Famous Brands with Impressive Color Schemes
Apple’s choice of brand colors has always been fluid, with a range of colors featuring on their products now and then. The exemplary bitten apple emblem has lately been portrayed in black, silver, or white, something that’s different from its typical rainbow palette. This recent use of neutral shades can be interpreted as a symbol of simplicity and quality. The colors represent the simple yet classy look and feel of Apple’s premium product design.
An exclusively bold and beautiful color, the regal purple shade with a fruity punch (Pantone 2865c) is downright synonymous with the world-famous British confectionery brand – Cadbury. The founders are supposed to have chosen this brand color as a tribute to Queen Victoria and have been using it on their product wrappers and branding materials for more than 100 years.
They tried to trademark the color in 2004, but this initiated a conflict with Nestle, who contested that the shade wasn’t distinctive enough to be owned by Cadbury. Finally, in 2008, Cadbury won the battle and secured its trademark, hence establishing its authority in the branding field.
The Starbucks logo and packaging design feature a unique color palette that embodies the brand’s growth, supremacy, and individuality. While the green background dominates the logo, white has been used for the main central emblem. Green is the color for nature, prosperity, healing, wealth, and protection.
Also, since the company has been ethically sourcing coffee for decades, it wants to maintain a cordial relationship with the local farmers and consumers. With green as the main color in its logo, Starbucks wants the audience to perceive them as a socially responsible brand.
Aside from portraying a soothing, peaceful aura, the color also represents the consistency of their quality products. Starbucks has also been advocating for more energy-efficient stores, and the color green is an excellent choice to characterize this move.
The iconic red and yellow overlapping circles of the Mastercard logo are one of the most recognized emblems in the world. Getting the tricolors, namely red, orange, and yellow in the right form was a challenging task for the designers, necessitating repeated tests to see what works best in every possible context. The logo had to work on a variety of backgrounds, including black, white, and everything in between.
Hence, the colors had to be cautiously calibrated, so they would look distinct yet complement each other. While red signifies energy and optimism, yellow is a sign of financial prosperity and happiness. The orange seems to be the conjunction of these values under the brand name Mastercard. Since the company was originally founded when 17 banks merged, this intersecting idea of the brand colors seemed perfect. There’s also a touch of translucency at the intersecting point, giving the brand an image of transparency and trustworthiness.
Brand colors are fun to explore and experiment with, but if done wrong can prove detrimental to our business. So, while you consider the above tips and put them into practice, it’s best to seek the help of an experienced logo designer who knows the ins and outs of the job. They would be the best people to guide you on this matter and help you with the best possible outcome.
Head of Design at DesignBro and is responsible for UI/UX Design, managing the global designer community, and ensuring quality levels of both designers and designs remain high.