A guide to help you choose your colours wisely
Colour is the ultimate brand builder. It has such an impact on evoking emotions from your customers and instils long lasting feelings towards your brand. That’s why choosing the right colour, or a set of colours, is really important to positively represent your products or services in the best way possible.
Everyone has a favourite colour. So how do you choose the right colour for your brand? And which colours are going to have the most impact to help communicate your message in the most effective way?
Start with word associations
As a starting point, colours can be placed into 2 categories:
- Natural Associations
- Cultural Associations
For example, green is the perfect colour to associate with nature and freshness. On the other hand, it can be symbolic of good luck, money and jealousy, all of which have nothing to do with the environment. All these associations have come about from complex cultural, political, religious and historical associations, which can sometimes be completely contradictory with each other.
To point you in the right direction, the table below provides a general word/colour association guide and how it relates to popular brands:
How to select the perfect colour
Choosing the wrong colours can be disastrous to your brand, which is why I always ask the following questions as part of the design consultation process:
- What colour represents your brand identity and personality?
- What colour relates best to your key products or services?
- Which colours do your competitors use?
Colours can be relevant to any industry
Some colours will always be suited to certain industries, but that shouldn’t stop you from choosing one that best suits your brand personality. This often stems from the business owner’s persona, especially when it applies to a small business brand. It’s also really important to send your customers the right visual message when they see it for the first time.
“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.”
Don’t just limit yourself to one colour
Almost every logo around the world uses more than one colour to represent their brand. Some global brands such as Ebay use multiple colours to represent variety, while most use two or three that compliment each other. The key is not to go overboard when selecting your colours. Think how your brand can be represented on a large billboard or on the side of a pen, and how easy it is for your printer to interpret and apply your brand’s colours different mediums.
Consider cultural differences
Many reactions to colour are often based on instinct such as feeling pleasure or disapproval, hot or cold; while others can be based on significant cultural factors. In western cultures for example, white means purity and peace, while in Japan it means mourning and death. This is why it’s important to provide the right impressions for markets you’re entering. Also, mixing appropriate amounts of different colours can help offset negative cultural connotations.
Don’t use your competitor’s colours
A brand’s ability to stand out from the crowd is a really important factor and key to long-term success. So if you’re competitor’s main colour is red, try going for blue instead. If they’re using brown, go for green.
If your competitor was first to market and you pick the same colour, then you’re brand will just be another carbon copy and will never get ahead of the game. Instead, you want to separate yourself from the competitor. You want to show that you’re different.
Add a bit of texture
You should always avoid being too safe or boring. Hence an effective brand design should incorporate complementary colour arrangements of shades, tints and tones to entice your customers. Adding textures can alter colours too. A roughly textured surface makes a colour seem darker, while a smooth surface lightens the same colour.
Client: Excel Drive
Project: Logo Design, Business Card, Letterhead, Email Signature, Folder
Case study: Excel Drive was expanding to target corporate clients. Instead of redeveloping his existing brand which is aimed at a very different market, Melanie discussed having a separate business image just for the corporate clients. The logo design was inspired by interlocking roads represented in a controlled and careful way, giving a sense of trust and safety.
The colours, gold and black represent quality, professionalism, trust and appeal to large organisations.
Does your brand need a refresh?
Successful branding will connect your product or service in a way that turns the consumer benefit into a compelling call-to-action. It ensures that all brand activity has a common goal and that every consumer touch point is enhanced by the power of your brand.
If you want to know if the colours you’ve chosen are right for your brand, why not organise a free brand consultation with Bright Owl Marketing.