What are the best colors to use for a brand identity? It depends on the personality of the company the identity is being designed for. It also depends on the colors being used by competitors, as well as applying basic principles of color theory.
As you can see, colors are chosen based on a number of factors, some weighing heavier than others. In this article we’ll discuss knowing the power and purpose of brand colors in order to select a meaningful palette that will not only set your brand apart, but also support the overall vision of your identity and mission. Let’s get into it!
Persuade With Sentiment
What is the feeling your company is trying to convey?
Brand colors should express the sentiment or attitude of a company. Some colors feel playful, while others feel trustworthy. Color psychology plays a role in how people feel about your brand and can be used as a tool when selecting colors.
For example, banks often use the color blue. This is not by accident. Blue conveys the feeling of authority, credibility, and reliability — all meaningful attributes people look out for when settling on an establishment that will be handling their money. Similarly, health food companies often use green, which communicates freshness, environmental awareness, and renewal.
Be careful though, the perception and meaning of color varies in different contexts and cultures. If your customer base is international, you’ll want to investigate further into the meaning of color in the areas you plan to operate in order to not cause offense or draw a negative response. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, the book Color Works has a helpful chapter on the cultural significance of color.
Brand colors can serve to differentiate two similar companies.
Through competitor audits, survey and compare the colors being used, or overused, in order to distinguish your company from the surrounding noise. Often times I find competitors just copy each other. They mimic what they like, instead of putting in the time to discover what makes them distinctive, and communicate that with color.
The right color selection for your brand can help you stand out from the pack. If the majority of your competitors are using orange, consider other colors that reflect your values while setting you apart!
Color choice can either feel appropriate for a brand category, seem irrelevant for a company, or worse — come off as inappropriate.
Using our earlier example, if the colors for a bank feel silly or flippant, I’m not sure how many people would be willing to deposit their money there. Or if the colors of a humanitarian nonprofit are dark and uninspiring, they may not evoke the sense of encouragement needed for supporters of the cause to be moved to take action.
On one hand, brand colors should be distinct from competitors, but on the other, they should be relevant for the category the company sits in. When selecting colors for your brand, consider your target audience as well as your offerings. In this context do they feel appropriate?
This one may seem obvious, but are the brand colors aesthetically pleasing?
It’s helpful to learn how colors interact. Some colors seem to get muddy when placed with other colors, and some combinations just burst with energy! Maybe your brand is going for something more subtle or subdued? Either way, being familiar with the color wheel and learning about color theory, including harmony, context, and values, will go a long way in developing palettes that resonate and delight.
When selecting colors for your brand, ensure they compliment each other, have contrast, and most importantly, are beautiful to the eye.
The Power of Color
Color is a powerful tool to use and understand in the practice of branding. It’s a form of communication that can elicit emotion, inspiration, or action without using words. Color conveys the sentiment or attitude of a brand, achieves distinction among competitors, and can be appropriate (or not) — all while being pleasing to the sight.
I hope this dive into the world of color helps you select a palette for your brand that is filled with purpose. If you’re a business owner looking for a partner to help bring meaning to your brand identity, let’s talk.