When it comes to creating your brand identity, choosing the right colours can be one of the most crucial decisions you can make. If done correctly, you can create a strong and immediate impact with your audience and it can help to catapult your business above the ranks of your competition.
The colours you choose for your brand will play an important role in your marketing strategy and across all design assets - Including, how you bring attention to important information or products, how you design your website and how you create the right feeling around your business.
If incorrect colour theory is applied it can also be a very costly mistake, not only might you miss out on attracting potential customers, it can also equate to a very expensive redesign of all printed and online material for your business. With that in mind we’ve developed a how-to guide on colour to help you make the correct colour choices and avoid costly errors.
01. Establish your company profile
02. Learn about colour meanings & emotional response
03. Select primary colour
04. Complimentary colours, neutrals, darks and accent colours
05. Checking Colour accessibility
06. common colour mistakes to be avoided
Just like designing a good logo, the best way to get started with choosing the right colour palette is to have a good understanding what your company stands for. You will want to establish what your company values and goals are, where you stand in the market, who’s your target audience and what you plan to communicate to them.
We recommend to think of your company as if you were thinking about the personality of a person. Creating a list of key words to describe your business can also be a great place to start, i.e, would you like your company to be perceived as lively, energetic, bold, refreshing or would you like to come across as more calming, trustworthy, and friendly.
Once you have an in depth understanding of your company profile, it’s time to look into what colours may be the best ambassadors to represent your brand. To help you with this we recommend to explore the general meanings behind each colour. Keep in mind that the perception of colour is subjective, therefore there’s no exact science to follow. However, researching these meanings will still be a great starting point for determining which colours might represent your company values most accurately.
Colour is also intrinsically connected with our psychological and emotional state, therefore choosing colours that trigger the right emotional response can be key to your brands future success. For that reason, it’s recommended to learn the basics of colour psychology and using this to build your foundation for creating your colour palette.
Think of your primary colour for your company being just as important as your logo, it’s going to be the colour that personifies your company and the one that your audience will associate most with your brand, for instance when shown the colour "Coca Cola" red or the "Mc Donalds" yellow, most people likely wouldn’t need to see their logo to automatically associate that colour with their company.
Choose the colour that best fits your company profile and your research findings. Once you have selected your colour, play around with the different tints and shades to ensure that you find the perfect tone to represent your brand.
Once you’ve got your primary colour it’s time to choose your complimentary colours. As their name suggests, the complimentary colours are there to assist the primary colour while also ensuring that they fit within the framework of your findings from step one and two. Our recommendation is to select anywhere from two to four secondary colours that are well balanced and attractive when used alone or combined. Using tools such as colour books and colour wheels can help with your selection process.
It’s also important to factor in how these colours will be distributed throughout your brands marketing material. We usually use the following logic to help decide this important step.
Choose one accent colour for the purpose of catching the viewers attention, i.e for a button on a website, important information, contrasting shapes and more.
Select some neutrals colours to create balance and avoid over saturation of bright colours. They can also be used to create space or break up large areas of of white and dark. For choosing your neutrals we reccomend using softer tones such off whites and greys, or less saturated colours.
Dark colours are almost always present in every brand but often get forgotten. If they do not form part of the primary colour pallet, then they will almost certainly be used in the typography for headings and and copy. Therefore, we recommend taking this into consideration and ensuring that the darks that you choose will also fit well within the primary colour palette.
Yes, we know theres a lot to consider when it comes to the perfect array of colours but one of the most important things to do before launching your brand is to test that your colours are accessible. This means that there should be enough contrast between the colours so that when you combine them with important information, that information will be legible and practical for the user to understand.
To check the accessibility of your colours, We recommend using a colour a free online tool like this one from colour contrast
Choosing a colour just because you like it
Picking you colours based on personal preference can be a lot of fun, but it can also lead to damaging miscommunication with your target audience. We advise that you always base your colour desiciones on logical market research that way when you launch your brand, it’s going to have the best chance possible to succeed.
Too many colours
The saying “the more the merrier” doesn’t always apply to branding, especially when choosing the number of colours to represent your company. If you choose a few too many, it can be harder to develop brand recognition with your audience. We always try to emphasise that every colour is there to serve a purpose, so if theres a few colours in your palette and you aren’t sure where they’ll be used, then it might be best to re consider how many colours you’re using.
Playing it too safe
Sometimes when selecting a neutral colour palette, it’s to avoid making some kind of huge error, but keep in mind, letting your brand be too boring could actually be the biggest mistake of all!. Be sure to let the personality of your brand and your research be the driving factor behind your decisions.
Trying to be too different
Being unique is great, and as creatives, we always try to encourage you to think outside the box. However, if you’re only choosing unusual colours for the sole purpose of "being different" we want to remind you, that what ever you do should still fit within the realms of what's going to be attractive to your customers.
Not trying to be different enough.
If you’re thinking of imitating your competition.. think again, your audience will be able to spot it right away and you will come across the lesser quality, knock off version. Your business should be unique in its own way (and I'm sure it is) so look for those points of difference to inspire your choice of colour.
So there you have it, a very long but hopefully insightful rant from us about choosing the right colours that help you to connect with your audience and show your brands “true colours”. we hope that you enjoy this post and if you have your own thoughts about what it takes to create the ideal colour palette we'd love to hear from you.