Did you know I'm a Brand Designer?
This makes it even more important for me to understand the importance of branding, educate others on it and train with the latest technology and changes that encompass branding. But there are so many individual assets (ex: colors, fonts, logos, graphics, etc) to branding that it's hard to know which one is more important.
The answer: none!
Every aspect of your branding is just as important as the next. But these individual elements can certainly have a positive or negative impact on how your brand is perceived by your audience. One of the biggest areas that I often feel business owners are using that has a negative impact on their businesses is the use of color!
Color plays an important role in how your audience perceives your brand and it's one of the areas that you should work carefully to craft from the beginning. But there is often a lot to learn about color in order to utilize it's importance in the proper way.
Today I'm going to share with you the importance of color, explain color psychology, explain color combinations and of course, share with you how you can use color to have a positive instead of negative impact on your branding.
Are you ready to get learning?
Let's start off with the basics,
why is color important?
When you think of McDonald's what comes to mind? I bet it's the golden arches and their yellow and red color scheme that can be seen miles down the road. And what about Coca Cola? When you're walking down the grocery store aisle I bet their red wrapped bottle catches your eye every time.
These are just two examples of brands that are using color to play an important positive role in their branding. Brands like McDonald's and Coca Cola do this in several ways:
1) Through Brand Recognition:
McDonald's and Coca Cola are instantly brands that you recognize whether there product / service is right in front of you or not. This means that these brands are creating recognition, and often through their color schemes. While you might think that McDonald's is recognizable for it's 'golden arches' think again. It's often not the aches that get your attention and more the golden yellow color that your eye is attracted to!
Here's another more relatable example:
We all know Melyssa Griffin (formerly The Nectar Collective), right?
Now here is my even bigger question, what colors is she known for? Did you answer with bright yellow, teal and pink! Bing, bing, bing we have a winner! Without even opening Melyssa's website or any of her social media platforms you already know 1) who she is and 2) what the most recognizable feature of her branding is, her color!
Don't you want the very same recognition for your own brand?
2) By Grabbing your Attention:
Let's go back to our example of McDonald's.
Have you ever been driving down the road in a town that you might not be familiar with and you're looking for the best place to eat lunch? I bet the McDonald's golden arches caught your attention before any other fast food restaurant.
This is due to a couple of factors including the design, placement and height of the McDonald's logo but it is also because of the brightly colored golden arches. This has caused McDonald's to be an attention grabbing brand through the use of color.
As I've connected with business owners more and more over the last couple of months it's become obvious to me that many of them are struggling to get their audiences attention. Because we know color plays an important role in getting attention we can now determine another avenue for these business owner to take to see results.
These aren't the only two reasons that color plays an important role in your branding, in fact, the reasons are almost endless. Here are some additional reasons that color should be a carefully crafted portion of your branding:
- Helps differentiate your brand from others on the market
- Stimulates your audience members to encourage interaction and engagement with your brand
- Helps your audience understand if your brand is for them
Now that we know that color can become an instant recognizable factor for your brand, it can grab your audiences attention immediately and various other factors, whats next?
let's get to know our color basics:
Before we get into really talking about how color can be used in branding we first need to talk about color itself. There is a vast amount of information related to color that you need to understand. Because it is so vast I'm going to work to try my hardest not to make this portion of today's post long and boring.
Here is what you need to know about color:
Primary Colors are a group of colors in which all others colors are made from. These colors include; red, yellow and blue.
Secondary Colors are the result of mixing two primary colors in equal parts. These colors include: green, orange and purple.
Tertiary Colors are the result of mixing two primary colors in various parts. These color often include: yellow-orange (amber), red-orange (cinnabar), red-purple (magenta), blue-purple (violet), blue-green (teal), and yellow-green (lime)
Complementary Colors are located directly across from each other on the color wheel. These pairings include but are not limited to: red and green or blue and orange.
Analogous Colors are groups of three colors that are located directly next to each other on the color wheel with one of these colors being a 'dominant' color often from the primary color or secondary color family.
Neutral Colors are colors that do not show up on the color wheel and are often called 'earth tones' and consist of the colors such as; black, grey, and brown.
These are often the most popular color categories that you will run across when doing research and working with colors. I'm going to refer often to these categories within this post so it's best to have an understanding of them. By understanding these categories it will also help you elevate your branding as you continue on the path to choose the perfect color palette.
How Color Psychology can affect your branding:
Color Psychology is a HUGE factor that I take into consideration when I'm working with clients. That's because Color Psychology is the study of how colors can influence perceptions and behaviors. Perceptions and behaviors can be closely related back to branding because branding is what you want your audience to perceive and feel about you!
Let's put this real simple; Color Psychology is how each color makes a person feel, act, and behave.
Each color within the color wheel has a different purpose with a different meaning. This is what Color Psychology does. It breaks down these colors and it better explains the most popular perceptions and behaviors associated by viewing this color. That means each color would have a different meaning when used in your branding.
Let's break some of these colors down:
Blue is often a color associated with trust, security, dependability, responsibility, calmness and focus. Based on the Joe Hallock's Color Assignment Research, blue is preferred by 57% of men and 35% of women. This makes blue a universal color depending on the gender of your audience but can still provide negative effects to your brand if you don't wish to associate with the above terms.
Facebook uses the color blue in its branding to entice its users about the security of the platform. Whereas brands like Apple - owner of the IPhone - want to convey a different and more important message with their branding. Other brands using blue include: Wal-Mart, PayPal and Pepsi.
Red is often associated with danger, passion, energetic, aggressive, and provocative. Going back to Joe Hallock's Color Assignment Research, red is preferred by only 7% of men and 9% of women. This makes it undervalued, in my opinion, and a great place to build a brand from. However, because of strong impact that red can have you want to be careful when approaching this color.
Target is a great example of a brand using the color red as it's staple. Target is a large retail chain of stores within the United States. There use of red creates a bold statement and is universally friendly as to not deter any customers. Other brands using the color red include: Coca Cola, Redbull and KFC.
Yellow is often the color that catches the eye before any other color and can be associated with optimism, positivity, warmth and energy. However, yellow is also a color that isn't preferred by either gender, 2% for males and 1% for females if you take a peek at Joe Hallock's Color Assignment Research.
In saying that, some of the worlds biggest brands including McDonald's, Snapchat, and Best Buy use yellow within their branding to draw attention. These brands know - like our example above - if you are out-and-about that yellow is going to be the color that gets your attention first when driving down the road. They draw attention, they command positivity and they create energy.
Many people know that pink is often associated with being a 'girly' color but it actually relates best to femininity, love, romance, compassion and youthfulness. Depending on the shade, tone, or hue of pink the color can often have different meanings. For example, dusty pinks are closer in relation to romance whereas bright pinks are closer in relation to youthfulness. This is important to take into consideration in your branding.
Victoria Secret is a well-established brand that uses pink as their main branding color. This is enticing for women and instills a playful, youthful and romantic spirit associated with their brand. Other brands using the color pink include: Barbie, Cosmopolitian and Mary Kay.
Purple is often associated with sophistication, luxury, wealth, spirituality, creativity, and mystery. Based on Joe Hallock's Color Assignment Research, purple is preferred by 23% of women and 0% of men. This makes purple a great color to use in branding for a female audience. Purple happens to be one of my favorite colors but can often be hard to translate to branding as it can have a very controversial meaning.
Cadbury - a chocolate company - is an excellent example of a brand using purple. Cadbury portrays itself as a luxurious chocolate brand and is priced on the retail market at slightly higher price point enforcing the wealth and luxury of the product. Other examples of brands using purple include: Yahoo and Hallmark.
Green is often associated with money, success, growth, balance, peace and refreshment. The biggest meaning of the color green is how it relates to money and success. This meaning can be very influential for a brand. Green can also be used in several different ways because both 14% of men and 14% of women prefer this color based on Joe Hallock's Color Assignment Research.
Starbucks is an excellent example of a brand using the color green to convey a message. Starbucks is often referred to as an expensive, successful, and refreshing brand. All of this closely relating back to the color they use for their branding.
Black is often associated with elegance, power, mystery, formality and fear. Black often has a negative connotation as you research Color Psychology more in-depth. However, black is also a staple to create an elegant and powerful brand with some hidden mystery. In many of my brand developments, black is often a staple color I recommend my clients use for text on their website and to create contrast. However, for brands who want to use it as a main color they require a strong foundation.
Nike, Puma and Adidas are three well-known brands using black as a main staple for there brand. If you also notice all three of these brands are athletic and sport related. These brands command power combined with elegance to enhance your athletic abilities.
White is the purest form of color there is. Because of this white is often associated with perfection, innocence, wholeness and purity. White it is often used as an accent color for most brands and works best when paired with other colors, white can also work as a main color for a brand in the event that said brand uses a monochromatic color scheme.
Now, Let's Get Into The Branding
Now that you know the importance of color, understand Color Psychology and have a better sense of how color can be used. It's time to take all of that information and implement it into creating a perfectly crafted color palette for your brand. However, this isn't always the easiest process. As I've worked with more and more clients, it has become really apparent that picking a color scheme is one of the most challenging aspects of our entire design process.
There are a lot of considerations you need to make when looking to create the perfect color palette.
How many colors make your color scheme effective?
This is one of the biggest mysteries when creating a color palette. Individuals often think the more colors that you have within the palette the more versatile your colors and thus branding are. This is completely untrue.
Having a color palette with a large range of colors can cause your brand to be overwhelming, disconnected and dissatisfying to you as the owner and builder of your material. The sweet spot, is having 3 to 6 colors. This gives you enough colors to help you differentiate your branding but also doesn't overwhelm your brand!
My perfect color palette includes black (often used as a main text color on websites), white (used as a background color) and then 2 to 3 colors that work well together and represent that specific brand.
Creating the perfect palette:
Let's do a little activity! I want you all to grab a piece of paper and answer the following question:
What are 3 - 5 descriptive words that describe your brand?
Now that you have answered the question I want you to scroll back up to the 'Color Psychology' section of this post and see if any of your words fit within a certain color. If not, try using a thesaurus to find different words with the same meaning and then again, see if these words match any of the color meanings above. Continue this process until you've created a connection between your words and colors.
This is an activity I do with ALL of my clients and I recommend everyone do it for their brands. The answer to this ONE questions helps with creating a connection between your brand and the colors that you use.
Just in case you're curious, here are my answers to the question: focus, simple, strategic, calming, trustworthy, and feminine.
Can you see how my color palette of navy, aqua and pink directly relate back to the words that I chose to represent my brand? By creating a connection between my overall brand aesthetic and the colors that I've used this has allowed me to create a more successful, engaging and approachable brand!
Here is my color palette for Studio Krystal:
Establish guidelines for your color palette:
After you have worked to create a color palette from the activity above and you've worked to narrow down your color palette as much as possible it's time to establish your color palette even further.
When creating a color palette, you don't want to utilize all of your colors in equal fashion. In fact, you want to set guidelines for your color palette to indicate which color will be your main color, which will be your secondary color and which colors will be your accent colors.
The dominant colors of your color palette will be used on the majority of your branding elements including your logo, alternate logo, sub marks, blog post graphics and social media graphics. Depending on the size of your color palette, you could have 1 to 3 dominant colors.
Along with dominant colors, you can also establish a few secondary colors which can be used in the same manner as your dominant colors but on a smaller scale or in less dominant areas.
Then you want to establish accent colors which can be used on the very small areas of your branding such as button on your website or your social media icons.
Can you guess which colors of Studio Krystal's color palette are more dominant than others?
Navy is the main color, aqua is the secondary color, and pink is an accent color!
How you can incorporate your color palette in your brand elements:
We've covered absolutely everything that you need to know about color. And now it's time to incorporate this brand new color palette into your branding elements which will directly help you create a recognizable, successful, and engaging brand. But where do you incorporate this beautiful new color scheme?
Here is an entire list of the branding elements to help you implement your new color palette:
- Facebook Cover Photo
- Facebook Profile Image
- Twitter Cover Photo
- Twitter Profile Image
- Instagram Graphics
- Website Header
- Website Footer
- Website Buttons
- Website Graphics
- Blog Post Graphics
- Main Logo
- Alternative Logo
- Branded Illustrations
- Branded Stock Photos
- Content Upgrade Designs
- Media Kit Document
- Business Cards
Here are just a few graphics in which I've incorporated the Studio Krystal color palette:
Can anyone say color overload!
This post was jam-packed with all the information on color you could possibly need to help start, develop and implement the perfect color palette for your brand. Because I know this post was so jam-packed with information I've created the perfect community where we can connect, share our struggles, ask questions and elevate our branding further with the use of color.
Branding is a confusing task all around and its often one of the hardest. Take your brand into your own hands. Join the Simple & Strategic Solutions for Success Online for all of the latest information to help you take your brand to the NEXT level including the opportunity to chat with me 1-on-1 for FREE to gain feedback on your brand NEW color palette!
What are you waiting for? Join today and start creating!