how to choose the perfect colours for your brand
Using colour to bring on certain emotions and feelings is nothing new. 19th Century artist, poet and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published Theory of Colours in 1810. This book is one of the earliest known pieces on colour theory, or how colours used within paintings and art make us feel implicitly. This blog post will delve into those colours, and how your business can utilise them to enhance your brand identity.
What do colours mean?
When designing a logo and a brand for your business, it is important that the colours used reflect the kind of work you do. This isn’t a strict science, and with all things there are always good reasons for deviations. If you look around the web googling certain industries, you will see the kind of biases they take towards certain colour ways. Let’s have a look at why that is!
Professional companies dealing with money like banks, finance and accountancy tend towards blue. The colour blue has associations with trust and strength, so you can see why that would be. We tend to be view blue as highly corporate meaning it is used less among independent or smaller businesses. This isn’t to say your small business can’t dabble in a bit of blue, it’s fun to break the rules sometimes and can be a great tool in standing out from the crowd. It’s just important to think of all the associations before making a decision for your brand.
Red is considered the boldest, most visceral colour. It can denote passion, heat, danger or strength and is always guaranteed to evoke a strong emotion. Again, as with the good points there are always negative connotations that need to be considered. Red can also be associated with violence, harshness and emergency. While it may work well for a company promoting fun and happy things, may be too strong an emotional response for other more sensitive industries. Entertainment companies use a lot of red to draw in business in a saturated market – if your small business needs some help standing out red could be the way to go!
The brightest and most cheerful of the colours, yellow means happiness! According to surveys listed in this article, ‘yellow seems to appeal to the kid in us, and is associated with feelings of cheerfulness, originality and warmth’. An overall message of yellow within branding is ‘bargain prices and fun’. You can see how these associations would work wonders for fun, cheap brands like McDonalds and Ikea, could it be the correct colour for your brand identity? Or could you benefit from the more luxurious feel of purple below? Take a look at our use of yellow in cheerful branding design for mobile game ‘Farm Kings’.
Going green is very in keeping with the environmentalism that has become so important to us. But green logos can mean more than just eco-friendly. Green represents calm and freshness and has been used a lot to signify health for body and mind. Are you an environmentally conscious brand? Is the health and wellbeing of your clients key? Then green may be the brand colour for you! However, if you want a brand that is more corporate and traditional, it may not be the best direction to take. Think carefully about the associations you want your clients to make.
You may know purple brands such as Cadburys, Hallmark and Milka, but what do they all have in common? Luxury! Purple is the colour of luxuriousness. This is why we see it so often in chocolate, jewellery and other indulgent brands. As well as luxury, purple connotes magic and mystery and can drive creative emotions. It can be an unusual choice, but may be perfect for your brand if you deal in luxury or pampering products, anything a little bit mystical and quirky or creative.
Another bright and cheerful colour that is known for stimulating creativity, interactivity and appetite! That’s right, there are studies showing that the bright, juicy colour actually makes people feel more hungry. Great news for those of you in the food business! Also great for technology and communication companies as orange is known to drive interaction. Marketing companies can also benefit from the orange treatment, the communication and creativity associations of the colour are perfect for media and marketing. You can see an example of these colours in action in my recent logo design for marketing company ‘Coherence’.
Despite being the most gendered colour, pink is not just for girls. Although pink can denote femininity, it is also associated with charm, fun, sensitivity and romance. It’s also an incredibly bold colour to use, with far less pink logos and brand identities on the scene than blue, the male colour counterpart. There’s a lot of variety within pink, bright vivid shades all the way through to soft pastels. This means that while it may seem like a difficult colour to pull off, but there’s so much variety within the colour that maybe it could be the right choice for your brand.
Multicoloured – The Wildcard
Now I know what a lot of you must be thinking, ‘I associate my brand with many of these values, how can choose only one?’ Well the fact is, you don’t always need to. Plenty of big brands decide to go bold with their logo designs and employ multiple primary and secondary colours within their brand to show all the values here. An extra bonus of using a few colours is that it gives the impression of inclusivity and diversity. The downside is that in order to make it work well, you need to be very well known, otherwise you may find yourself without a clear direction or place within the business world.
Finding your niche
As mentioned above, none of this is an exact science. There are plenty of other elements to take into consideration when creating your brand. Colour theories are a good starting point for you to understand what is needed when building your brand identity. If in doubt about any of this stuff, it’s always worth having a chat with a designer (us, preferably!) as we’ll be able to offer solutions that may not be immediately apparent.
The other thing worth noting is that while these rules are a good guideline to working with colours, there are plenty of instances where the best decision in one in which the rules are broken. Bravery and a willingness to try bold solutions can work wonders for small businesses looking to get your image known to the world!