Color plays a vital role in communication. Colors aren’t just colors, they convey a message and that’s an important fact to keep in mind when mapping out your branding strategy. Whether you are just launching your business and currently in the process of designing your company logo or rebranding an established business you need to give your color choices careful thought. It’s easy to rush this process because you are excited to see your new brand live in action across the web and print. Take a moment and reflect on your options and carefully consider each. This article will share some tips and tricks on how to approach finding the right color for your logo and brand.
What Message Do You Want to Convey?
Working with a graphic designer or designing your own logo and brand assets is exciting. You witness your business name and vision come alive. A business idea often doesn’t feel real until it’s represented in the form of a logo. There’s just something about seeing your company name and slogan represented in logo form on a screen or piece of paper. This excitement needs to be channelled however. At this stage many entrepreneurs make the mistake of simply going with their gut and preferences. They choose fonts, graphics and colors based on their preferences. Color in particular simply reflects the business owner’s favourite color.
Just because you like blue doesn’t mean that will speak to your core demographic or effectively communicate your message. It is recommended to take a step back and to decide what your message is first before picking a brand color. Once you know what your message is and how it aligns with your business you can then choose a color.
Colors and Their Meaning
Colors and their impact on psychology have been studied for a long time. Graphic designers and any visual artists are well aware of colors and their meanings. Here are some of the most popular branding colors and the message they convey:
Blue is a really popular choice when it comes to branding. You will notice a sea of blue logos in sectors like finance, technology, and insurance. It’s no surprise since blue conveys trust, loyalty and stability.
Green is another popular branding color and not just in the environmental sector. For example a lot of incubators and seed funding companies use green accents in their branding as it symbolizes growth. Green also represents harmony, freshness and fertility.
Red of course conveys passion, desire and love. Going with a red color palette will certainly get your brand noticed. Choosing red isn’t reserved for online dating application logos. Red also stands for strength, power and danger.
Yellow represents happiness, joy, energy and intellect. Yellow is often used as a secondary branding color because it can read very light at times. When it comes to web and print you want to make sure your color sticks out.
Purple conveys the message of nobility, luxury and ambition. Purple, similar to yellow, is often used as an accent color. Since it’s such a bold color not many brands go for all purple. Rather they combine it with another complementary or go for white or black with accents of purple.
In addition to the core colors a lot of businesses also just opt to go for an all black branding look. This of course makes the decision process much easier. Having said black isn’t the right choice for many businesses. Black conveys elegance, formality and mystery. While this is a great choice for high-end fashion products black wouldn’t be the right choice for a school or alternative foot supplier.
When you are deciding on the perfect color for your brand it’s advisable to use a color wheel that effectively communicates each color’s meaning.
What Colors Are Your Competitors Using?
You and your business are unique and the goal is to stand out against your competitors. Simply copying what your competitors are doing in terms of branding won’t be enough. On the other hand being contrarian and picking opposing colors, just because, also isn’t the winning ticket. It is advisable to study your competition so you can find out what works and what doesn’t. Successful competitors who are well established may have paid their dues already and figured out which brand colors best communicate their message over their years. It doesn’t hurt to get inspiration from someone who’s already successful in your niche.
When in Doubt Conduct a Survey
If you can’t decide on a color or brand message ask for outside feedback. If you are stuck on your message you might have some homework to do that is bigger than just picking a logo color. It’s crucial to identify your message first. Once you and your business partner decided on that you can ask friends and family for their input. Present them with different color options and ask which one they like the best and why. In addition to surveying people in your close circle it’s advisable to get some impartial feedback from potential customers and stakeholders.
Once you have exhausted all face-to-face feedback you can leverage a tool like Google Surveys. You can easily create a survey, upload a very color samples or logos in those color variations and publish the survey. This survey tool is great because you can order a specific number of responses at a reasonable rate based on your core demographic.
How Will Your Brand Color Scale
When you create your logo, the foundation for all of your branding assets, keep in mind how your chosen color scheme will scale. If you have ambitious goals for your business and project a lot of growth try to picture your brand colors across different material such as merchandise, web, print, etc. Will your logo and brand color look good on staff uniforms, on store walls, promotional materials, tradeshow banners, etc. This consideration is particularly important if you go for a bold or loud color like hot pink or purple. It might look good in small doses but once you paint an entire store front it might be too much.
Colors and Printing
To add yet another aspect you need to consider printing and packaging when choosing your brand colors. Certain colors and packaging will just work better for the printing process. Color can look different when printed versus on a screen. To avoid any surprises printing your logo in a few color variations is also a good idea. Packaging should be print tested before committing to a particular set. Of course it’s easy to forget about printing considerations when you are first presented with a logo in an email attachment from your graphic designers. If your business and promotional plan requires a lot of printing you’ll need to allocate some timing to figure out what works best. In general you want to avoid some of the most common print design mistakes.
When people look at logos and branding of well-known companies they often underestimate how much time went into color consideration. Fortune 500 companies often spend millions of dollars on rebrands. For many mom and pops shops it’s ok to just pick a color and go with it. If you are serious about building a professional brand that you can scale and be proud of you need to give color choice the time it deserves. It doesn’t cost you anything to slow down during the logo process and to carefully consider and weigh your brand color options. If you choose wisely; however, there is a lot of upside to having the right colors in place that speak to your customers and other stakeholders. Having your branding grab the attention of potential customers and be memorable is crucial to your success.
Scott Smith is a freelance graphic designer with a degree in psychology. He’s passionate about design, entrepreneurship, marketing and how it’s all tied to behavioural psychology.