How To Choose Colors For Your Brand
In creating your brand, there are many aspects that go into the brand itself, including a business name, a logo, fonts, voice, and color. Color is a powerful tool to not only target and influence your audience, but to set yourself apart from competitors.
Color Is Underrated
Color is often overlooked in the creation of a brand, and consequently chosen without much thought. But color can affect how we think, feel, and act, so it should be considered carefully. There are accepted views on colors and which industries they’re used for: blue for healthcare, black for luxury brands, green or orange for food. However, understanding why these views exist is key.
Our Perceptions of Colors
The way we perceive colors is both intuitive and learned. Studies show that some perceptions of color are ingrained in our brains: red activates our amygdala and raises our blood pressure, as a response to both danger and excitement, while blue light keeps us awake because it suppresses the production of melatonin.
However, learned perceptions of color also exist, and these vary more among people, since they tend to be historical and cultural. For a long time, the only colors that existed were natural, so unnatural hues were associated with the wealthy (see: royal blue, white wedding dresses).
Color is also cultural. Not only does the language you speak affect how you see color, but cultures use and see colors in different ways — for example, some Eastern cultures wear white to funerals instead of black.
Choosing Colors: What To Consider For a Brand
Your Target Audience
It’s incredibly important to understand both instinctual perceptions of color and the historical and cultural context when choosing a color for your brand. If your customers are in China, the United States, or Brazil, they will have different perceptions of a color due to these contexts.
Age is another factor that affects perception of colors. Different generations, each with their own specific cultural context, will feel differently about colors.
Trends like millennial pink and Gen Z yellow speak to this difference, so if you’re targeting a specific demographic, you should take this into account.
Different sexes also see colors differently, sometimes quite literally: women see more shades of colors than men do. Men and women also have different feelings about colors, and will prefer some colors over others.
Understanding your target audience, from their background to their age, sex, and more, is crucial to pick the right color for your brand, because it can make or break your brand’s success with them.
Color Combos and Hues
When choosing a color for your brand, you’re actually choosing several: a palette of 5-10 primary and secondary brand colors that will all be part of your brand. Understanding how colors work together, not just alone, will help you choose these combinations. Similarly, there’s more to a color combination than just “blue” and “yellow,” for example, since you’ll be choosing a specific shade of each color.
A professional is your best asset for picking colors, since they understand the nuances of each specific shade and how they work with other shades, both logistically and psychologically. They’ll know not just what colors look good together, but what they say about your brand.
What feeling do you want to give a customer? Color stir emotions and thoughts inside of us, which can lead to our behaviors. Will we love this brand or hate it? Will we feel connected to it? Feelings are incredibly important to sales — don’t overlook them.
One piece of common advice is to use red for a call to action button or a sale sign, since red inspires people to take action. However, you won’t choose red as your brand color just to stir action in people — and if you do choose it, your brand isn’t automatically aggressive and bold.
The idea is to be conscientious with your color selection, and choose colors that overall give off the mood and feeling of your brand, whether it’s elegance, excitement, peace, or something else.
What are your competitors doing? Understanding and analyzing what colors your competitors are using can help you understand your own business and your target audience, and help you decide whether you want to go in the same direction or try something different.
Color can differentiate your business from those around you. You could go with the same thing your competitor is doing, and it may work, but trying something different can set you apart and bring you more business that way. Although your colors should still make sense for your industry and audience, finding a new take can help your brand stand out.
Color is only one aspect of a brand. Ultimately, all the aspects of your brand have to work together, and though color is important, it must work with the others to create a cohesive and effective brand.
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