Choosing the best colors for your business can be challenging and selecting the right ones is an important step in building a successful brand. Let’s take a look at how colors work and impact your brand.
Business Colors - What Do They Stand For?
Specific colors evoke different reactions and emotions - on both a conscious and subconscious level. Understanding these reactions can help your brand avoid selecting hues that clash with the message you are attempting to present. Misuse of color can damage your brand and is counter-intuitive to your branding strategy.
There is a science when it comes to color selection and how the audience will perceive your work based on your choices—which is one reason why you may want to enlist a professional designer to help you with the selection. However, you can educate yourself to help participate in the color selection with your designer. This breakdown of the Psychology of Color from Fast Company will give you not only the meaning of each color but also examples of how top brands use these colors in their marketing.
Once your color choices are narrowed down based on psychology, you’ll want to analyze how the colors fit into your overall brand. Understanding that the color blue represents tranquility isn’t enough. You need to ensure that tranquility is a cornerstone of the image you want to project to the public as well. Your branding is not an area where you want to make frivolous decisions based on personal preference. Every element of your brand needs to be intentional and serve a purpose.
Think about your favorite, most memorable brands. What colors make them stand out from the crowd? Do you associate specific colors to specific companies? How do these choices make you feel about the brand? If you came across a group of construction workers all wearing hot pink – would you feel confident approaching them with your expensive project or walk away perplexed and confused about the message they were presenting?
Know When to Choose Your Business Colors.
Is choosing a color the first step to shaping a brand? Exactly when should you start thinking about your colors when building your new brand? This is different for everyone. Don’t feel rushed into selecting your ideal business color scheme with the first round of logo proofs. You’ll be able to test your brand colors as you go through the initial design process.
Color selection shouldn’t even be considered until you’ve spent some serious brainstorming time creating the foundation of your brand. Have you invested resources in determining your customer profile so that you have an understanding of who you are designing for? This is essential in order to achieve a highly effective ROI conversion. Once you have a business plan and a solid branding strategy you can then begin to think about color, logo’s, and even copy tone.
Can’t I pick my own brand colors?
Yes, can—and many small businesses do. However, it’s important to consider your own talents or genius zone. Is graphic design and incorporating branding into all the touchstones of your company something you will excel at? If the answer is no, you should really consider bringing in an expert to help you get your plan put together.
Working with a quality designer who can guide you through the process will help you avoid launching your brand identity with colors that don’t work for your needs.
Choose Your Colors Wisely.
When selecting colors for your brand, be sure to have your brand concept pinned down before you begin. Going with your first instinct isn’t always the best bet here as you want to choose color combinations that will stand the test of time. Remember, we are not simply selecting your favorite color, and you should explore options and color combinations outside your comfort zone. You may find one that resonates with the brand right away, but take the time to be certain that you’ve selected the best colors for your business. You’ll want to research your competition, but there’s a note of caution here. Don’t select color schemes that can be confused with your competitors and/or infringe on another’s trademark. While you can’t own a color, color schemes and design elements are another matter. Also, you want your brand to be a stand out – not a carbon copy of someone else’s idea. Here are a few tips for selecting a color for your brand:
Design a Color Scheme.
A color scheme is about more than using a color wheel. There are other things to consider:
- Your design needs to be easily read. (Clarity through contrast)
- The colors need to be distinguishable from one another in tone and hue.
- Color blindness should be taken into consideration—Did you know that 1 out of every 12 people are color blind? Color blindness in one or two color palettes are much more common than those who can only see in black, white, and shades of gray.
So how do you ensure that your color scheme appeals to all viewers? You vary the saturation, hue, and brightness of your content. This goes for links in your posts as well. A quick way to test your contrast effectiveness is by removing the color and viewing it in black and white. You’ll be able to see immediately if your colors are distinguishable from one another.
Know the Psychology Behind the Colors.
As we mentioned above, color impacts individuals on a psychological level. Take the time to understand the psychology behind your colors so you can create an inviting color scheme which encourages people to look at your brand (which is impossible to accomplish if your colors aren’t appealing to them!). Here are a few examples:
- Don’t choose harsh colors that conflict with one another.
- Neons are difficult in large doses,
- Pastels can be easily overlooked by a bolder design.
Another thing to consider is whether your colors have an underlying meaning in your industry. A few examples include:
- Green tends to mean health, finances, environmental awareness, and wellness while purple tends to denote royalty, sophistication, and charm.
- Yellow is often the choice for companies that provide safety services.
If your industry or niche is associated with a specific color this may limit your choices a bit. You’ll want your customers to be able to instantly associate that color to what you provide. Being restricted to a specific color doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative.
Wrapping Up Your Color Selection.
Once you have selected colors that meet your brand criteria, use testing and analysis to confirm and finalize your color combinations. You’ll want to ask individuals that fall in your target audience how your choices make them feel. Try to avoid asking just one or two people (and again, be sure you are asking your target audience - not just your BFFs). You’ll want opinions, and the most objective way to get those is through surveys and other forms of data gathering. Get outside of your inner circle and remember that numbers matter. The patterns become more obvious when the data pool gets bigger. If you’re not getting the input you’d like, it’s time to bring in a branding strategist to assist you.
Next Steps to Creating a Colorful Brand.
Once you determine your business color scheme and run it through the necessary evaluation channels, the next steps of the brand implementation process await you:
- Creating a business logo (We did a cost and time analysis for the different logo design options out there.)
- Plan, design and develop your website
- Design graphic elements, including visuals to use in advertising
- Continue implementing your brand through social media, and other marketing channels relevant to your target audience
If you’re not sure where to begin or find this information to be overwhelming, we’ve streamlined the process for you in the Build a Savvy Brand series.
If you have already defined your brand backbone, and are ready to get started working with a designer, read our 11 Tips for Branding and Design Project Success for more tips on finding the right designer that fits your business needs.