How to Choose Your Brand Colors

Whether it’s the golden arches of McDonald’s, the bright orange of Home Depot, or the pristine white of Apple, brand colors really matter. They evoke emotions in people who see them and the colors are associated with certain feelings or actions. That’s why it’s so important to choose brand colors that match the type of business you run and elicit the right kinds of emotional responses.

brand identity

In order to choose the right colors for your brand, you must first understand your brand identity. Since each color is associated with certain emotions, you need to know what kinds of emotions you want to be associated with.

Are you information or emotion? Are you fun or are you serious? The answer to these questions will decide the colors you choose for your brand. Since color can evoke many associations, you’ll also want to choose colors that reflect your brand identity. This is especially important if your brand isn’t particularly obvious from your name or logo – the colors you use can give a clue as to what you’re doing.

The other consideration to keep in mind is your competition. You will probably want to be different from your competitors in order to stand out. But there is also an argument for being similar! After all, tech companies like HP, Dell, Intel, and ASUS have all used blue in their logos, despite all being in a similar market. Blue is just a good color for tech companies, even if logos are starting to look alike.

Why color is important

You may not immediately think that color is important in your brand image. Why would choosing between blue, red or green affect anything? Well, according to research, color matters a lot! It showed that 92% of people think color is synonymous with quality. Color ads are read 42% more than the same black and white ads. The list continues. Color is powerful and the colors chosen by brands affect how consumers perceive them. Humans are visual creatures, so a specific color can grab our attention and make us think in a particular way.

colorful rainbow waves

Meaning of colors

Red is the color of passion and strong emotion. It is associated with pleasure and excitement, and even with danger or alertness. There’s a reason stop signs are red, but Valentine’s Day is also often associated with red.

Green is legitimately associated with nature. This means it’s often used for brands that want to present themselves as natural or sustainable. Since it is the color of US currency, it is also associated with finance.

Blue is the color of confidence, calm and reliability. Many tech companies, banks, and healthcare companies use blue to inspire customer confidence.

White is associated with cleanliness and minimalism, as well as calm.

Black is a sophisticated color often associated with luxury. It can also be a dark color.

Yellow is associated with happiness and optimism. In the modern world, it is the color of emojis and smileys. Yellow can also look young.

Purple is often associated with royalty. In branding, it conveys a feeling of luxury.

Brown, like green, is associated with nature. Brown is grittier and dirtier than green, so it conveys a more local feeling.

Orange is a color of adventure and creativity. It’s a bold color that stands out from the crowd, so use it if your brand is synonymous with exciting times. It can also represent caution or attention (like traffic cones).

Pink is often associated with feminine themes, but can also be used to stand out by being bold.

rainbow colored hallway walls

Examples of color combinations

Marks are often associated with multiple colors. Here are some different color combinations and common pairings.

Red and green: The combination of the colors of passion and nature is perfect for food. Obviously, a plate of bright green and red food would look delicious to most people, but the color philosophy also works well. Red can evoke appetite and green can evoke feelings of nutrition and natural foods. It’s a perfect match for restaurants or food-related brands.

Orange and black: The combination of orange and black will result in a brand that is both sophisticated and adventurous. These colors can seem contradictory – black can blend into the background while orange is bold and always stands out. But this contrast can evoke feelings of standing out and being loud while being luxurious and elegant. It’s a great color combination for luxury brands that want to pop.

Blue and yellow: Blue is the color of confidence and yellow is the color of joy. When you combine them, you get a brand identity that inspires confidence in the way forward. This makes it a potential color combination for insurance companies, moving companies, finance companies, or any other business that helps someone look to their future. You want to inspire confidence, but you also want to inspire optimism and enthusiasm.

Creation of the color palette

You’ll end up with more than one brand color, and they’ll be prioritized based on how you use them. This will not only inform you about how you create your logo, but also how you create your website and pretty much all branding materials.

Basic color

Your base color will be your main brand color and you should choose it based on the main emotion you want to evoke. It is the dominant color, like the blue of Chase Bank or the red of Coca-Cola.

coca-cola logo

Accent color

Once you have chosen your base color, you can choose your secondary or accent color. Not only should it evoke another emotion you want to convey, but it should also visually associate with the base color. It must satisfy both conditions, otherwise you risk looking messy or giving off conflicting emotions. In the Lego logo below, most people will notice the red background, but the text is actually highlighted with a bright yellow accent color.

lego logo

Neutral color

Every brand needs a neutral tone to serve as the background color. This often ends up being a white, gray or similar color. Depending on your base color, you can sometimes opt for dark gray or black, but then you run the risk of these colors dominating the brand.

Additional colors

Although these three colors are excellent, sometimes you will need additional colors. These should be more accent colors that can add sparkle to your website or advertising elements.

What is the next step for your brand image?

Once you’ve chosen your colors, you’re not even close to being done with your branding. Color is only part of the equation. You can then use these colors to help design your logo. Next, you will need to choose fonts. Once everything is decided, you will also need to create a branding guide that shows the right and wrong way to use your logos and colors together. This will ensure that everyone is using your brand assets consistently and in a way that feels right to you. If you have chosen your colors, this is just the beginning of your journey!

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