Choosing Your Brand Colors

April 15, 2021
Choosing Brand Colors

Choosing your brand colors isn’t as simple as grabbing your favorite color and building a logo off of it. Instead, put intention to the colors you choose and the emotional response that those colors evoke.

Color Theory For Brands

Color theory is the first thing they teach you in art school. (And pretty much every art class starting in the 3rd grade). You learn about primary and secondary colors, how to make black and potentially the power of hue and opacity. (See I just used a bunch of big words that you probably don’t even remember.) When it comes to your brand though, color theory is a lot more simple. It really comes down to emotion. What emotion does your logo and brand evoke and more importantly what emotion do you want it to evoke.

Example of Brand Colors

You’ll notice that a lot of industries have similar looking color schemes because they want to create the same emotion. Take banks, many of them have blue in their logo to create a feeling of trust and calm. You don’t want to build stress about going to the bank. Surprisingly you don’t even see many if any, banks with a green logo which is about health and growth. Instead, bank brands are focused on knowing that you can trust them. They’re dependable and aren’t going anywhere.

Another example of brands is outdoor clothing brands. These brands have adventure awaiting you and want to build the excitement. They scream bold and young with their red logos.

When it comes to your brand, you don’t have to fit in with the others in your industry. Instead of being like everyone else think about what you want your brand to feel like. If it ends up being the same as you competition, that’s okay too.

Emotions of Color

In the most simple of terms, here are the emotions attached to each color of the rainbow.

  • Red – Excitement, youth, bold, adventure
  • Orange – Friendly, cheerful, confident, fun
  • Yellow – Optimistic, clear, warm
  • Green – Peaceful, growth, health, nature
  • Blue – Trust, dependable, strength, calm
  • Purple – Creative, wise, imaginative, royal
  • White/Grey – Balance, calm, neutral, classic, luxury, sleek

Now, within each of these colors is an entire range of more colors. You might choose green for your yoga brand but want a more olive green or something that resembles nature over say lime green which is very energetic and playful. In my brand, I chose teal as my main color, for one, because it’s my signature color. I photograph it a lot because it’s always around me. Teal is combination of blue and green which creates trust and growth. (two things I want you to feel with your brand strategist). It also stands out agains landscape photography which is the majority of photos I take. Lastly I wanted something feminine to balance out the masculinity of my brand. See the intention behind choosing 1 color for my brand?

How Many Brand Colors Should You Have?

Here is where brands get a little excited. They choose 20 colors they want to include in their brand and you don’t actually know what their brand colors are. My suggestion is always to have 2-3 colors. One of these colors will be your signature color. The one you used to pop, the color that associated with you. The other colors are there to support that color based on different design needs.

Let’s use Apple as an example. Apple’s colors are white/grey. They want to represent balance, luxury, and calm. They scream high-quality. But when you think of apple you might also picture rose gold, sky blue, or green because these are the colors that their products can come in. They allow their products to be a splash of color but when you look at their website and all their branding the colors they use for everything and white, black and grey.

Another example is Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company focused on giving back to the planet. Their logo is black and white with a purple and pink sunset in the background. However, their most simple logo is black and white. Even their website is heavily black and white except for the nature photographs they have all over it. They want the pop of color you see to be nature itself which aligns perfectly with their brand. So all their photographs are super colorful and their logo actually blends into the background.

Choose the main pop of color you want to be your brand identifying color and then find two more colors that support this. You’ll want to know the exact color you choose so that you can add it to your brand guidelines later.

Where To Put Your Brand Colors

You’ve got your color, or at least the idea of what color/s you want to use to represent your brand. Now what do you do with these? You put them everywhere. You want these colors to be associated with you wherever you go. Make sure that your primary color is in your logo. Add it throughout your website. This is an accent color. If red is your color of choice you don’t need a red website, that will be overwhelming, instead include symbols or buttons in a red color so that there is a pop throughout your site of your brand colors.

Add your colors to your social feed. Whether it’s in the shirt you’re wearing in a photo or you create a template in Canva that has shapes or text in your color. Find ways to add touches of your color to your feed. Again, not everything needs to be drenched in your brand colors. Just suggestions so that customers associate these colors with you.

Include your brand colors in your:

  • Newsletter
  • Business Cards
  • Website
  • Social
  • Logo
  • Pinterest graphics
  • Advertising

Connect With Your Audience Through Color

You have an entire rainbow of colors to choose from in order to connect with your audience but that’s the key thing to remember when it comes to your brand colors; They have to connect with your audience. This isn’t about you, it’s always about them. So what do they need to feel from you? What emotion do you want to provide you audience with? What is the first thing they think about when they meet your brand?

The answers to those questions is exactly how you start to choose your colors for your brand. The rest is about strategically using your colors to build your brand.

Still not sure where to go with your brand colors? Schedule a free 30-minute strategy call and get clear on who your brand is so you can build your design right.