First impressions count for a lot, especially in branding, and among the first things that people notice about a brand are the colors. The role of color in marketing has been well-established for years, and among its many benefits include:
- Builds brand awareness: In color psychology, each color is associated with different kinds of emotions. Color identity has also been found to be closely related to brand association and to have a huge impact on brand awareness.
- Influences purchasing decisions: Studies have shown that the visual appearance of a product, mainly its color, has a heavy influence on consumers’ buying decisions. Additionally, in branding, using the right colors helps you connect at a more emotional level with your target audience, which leads to better brand perception.
- Boosts conversions: As a related point, with positive brand perception, consumers are more likely to trust your brand — and trust plays an important role in influencing buyer behavior, especially when it comes to digital shopping. This, in turn, translates to better conversion rates and sales.
It goes without saying, then, that colors are crucial in your branding and marketing strategy. How do you effectively choose colors for your brand? Or, if your business has been up for a while but isn’t seeing results, how do you go about revamping your brand colors?
Before Choosing Your Brand Colors
1. Familiarize yourself with color psychology
Color psychology is not only restricted to branding and marketing; it can also be applied to many other fields such as design, art, medicine, and more. However, one of its central tenets is that colors have a powerful influence on our mood, emotions, and perceptions.
To effectively use color psychology in your branding, familiarize yourself with the different emotions associated with each color.
IMPORTANT TIP: While the established rules of color theory are good to know, it’s important to note that they are not immovable or inflexible. Blue is trustworthy and traditional, but not every bank should have a blue logo. The industries for each color indicated above are just examples and not hard-and-fast rules that a certain industry only has to use a certain color.
Ultimately, it all boils down to your established brand identity and your competitive edge, which brings us to the next points.
2. Establish your brand identity
Thoroughly knowing your brand is essential prior to choosing your brand colors. At the very least, it’s important to establish the following:
- Brand goals: What do you wish to accomplish with your brand? This will help you have a clearer view of your strategy.
- Target audience: Aside from asking who your target audience is, ask yourself: what emotions do you want your audience to feel when they encounter your brand?
- Brand personality: What characteristics and traits does your brand embody?
- Brand archetype: Brand archetypes are universal patterns of human behavior, which are used to effectively present a brand in a way that builds a stronger emotional connection. Your brand archetype can be used as a guide in choosing your brand colors. For example, The Lover archetype is associated with the color red or pink, while The Sage archetype is often associated with green and white, and so forth.
3. Know the competitive landscape
It’s important to learn where the competition lies when it comes to brand colors for the purposes of differentiation. This is why at Ilfusion, when we work on a client’s message and visual brand identity, we do a Competitive Color Wheel Analysis.
Basically, we place all of the client’s competitors around a color wheel so that we can quickly and easily see where the competition lands, and more importantly, where your areas of opportunity lie to stand out from the crowd.
Through this exercise, we found that in most industries, it is very common to find that most of the competitors are clumped around different shades of blue, and one or two competitors occupy the red space.
Don’t be afraid to explore other colors for your brand — there’s a whole rainbow of opportunities to differentiate.
Choosing Your Brand Colors
Now we get to the core of this article: choosing your brand colors. Most brands have more than one color, and for good reasons: it helps in adding more distinction to your brand and it also helps in varying your designs (for example, if you have to use your brand collateral in different backgrounds).
There is no hard-and-fast rule as to how many colors you should have in your brand palette, but essentially, you can have at least two:
1. Base/primary brand color
Your base color should reflect your brand’s most dominant personality or trait, as well as appeal to the primary emotion you want your target audience to feel.
2. Accent/secondary brand colors
Your accent colors can be trickier to choose. Aside from being consistent with your brand identity, it should also be visually appealing when used together with your primary color. Your accent colors can be either of the following:
Analogous colors are close variants of your base color — those that are placed side by side on the color wheel.
Complementary colors are two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. This can be helpful in highlighting contrast and in creating more visual impact.
Monochromatic colors are three shades of the same base color. It creates a more harmonious, clean, and subtle palette.
3. Neutral brand colors
As the term suggests, these are muted shades that do not appear on the color wheel. Neutral colors include white, black, gray, brown, and cream, beige, or taupe shades. Defining your neutral is helpful in emphasizing your design when they appear in most backgrounds. It also helps in creating more balance in your design.
Depending on your chosen primary color and accent colors, you may or may not need neutral colors for your brand palette — for example, if your primary color is white, black, or gray.
Effectively Implementing Your Brand Colors
An important yet often overlooked step when choosing your brand colors or in polishing your brand strategy is creating a brand style guide. Also called a brand book, this is a document that ensures that the company’s branding and image are consistently portrayed in and applied to every design and communication.
To properly implement your brand colors, it’s prudent to establish guidelines in your brand book about its proper usage and the specific swatches for your primary, secondary, and neutral brand colors in both HEX and CMYK codes, as well as PMS and RGB.
It’s also helpful to provide examples of what is and isn’t acceptable when using your color palette, especially when used in contrasting backgrounds (i.e., light or dark).
If you need more guidance, there are free brand palette generators you can use online. There are also free useful color wheel tools to help you choose complementary, analogous, or monochromatic color combinations.
To know more about branding, design, and digital marketing in general, visit our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.