A colour scheme says more about a brand than just what their favourite colours are. It’s an essential part of branding that subconsciously informs the customer.
Using the correct colour can increase your brand’s recognition, a key feature of brand identity and increases your brand’s appeal. Research from Loyola University (2007) in the US indicated that using colour to manifest critical messages enhances attention by 82% and brand recognition by 80%.
Consumers, and in particular your target audience, make unconscious judgements about your brand or products within the first 90 seconds. Even more interestingly, ‘The Institute of Color Research’ has found that somewhere between 60% to 90% of these judgments are made on colour alone.
The products we see as we walk down a grocery store aisle are designed to stand out to you, the consumer. 90% of customers focus on the brand colour when they move towards their conversion point.
So now we know why colour is so important to our branding and marketing; how can we choose the right colour for our brand?
Understanding Your Colour
Colour shouldn’t just be seen as an aspect of your branding. Each colour has its own unique personality that consciously and unconsciously impacts how users see your brand. We all know the major colours, and their associations within the brand world; red and white is commonly linked to Coca-Cola and yellow with Mcdonald’s. There are so many examples.
For smaller brands that don’t have this inherent association, colours are used to increase the noticeability of your brand. They need to link with your brand message and target market to stand out.
Here is what each major colour says about your brand:
Blue is a very common colour within branding and is often seen in areas where trust and safety are aligned, such as banks, social media companies and large IT brands. The colour brings with it an understanding of safety, honesty, harmony and relaxation. Hence why many big brands such as ETON, Facebook and Royal Bank of Scotland to name just a few use blue as their main colour.
The colour of passion, love, power and strength, red can often signify importance, and it commands attention. This is why it is another very popular colour commonly seen in the food industry and entertainment. For example, we see it used by YouTube, Netflix, Coca-Cola and Nintendo.
Green relates strongly to nature, growth, health and environmentally friendly. It’s becoming increasingly popular with more brands wanting to be seen as ‘green’. It can be used to demonstrate you have an understanding of nature, adventure and health. We see it commonly within fitness, health and eco-friendly sub-brands. For some examples, look at companies such as Whole Foods, Land Rover and Tropicana.
Historically pink has been associated with femininity and youth, however, over the past 10 years we’ve seen the psychology of the colour evolve. The colour is now much more aligned with the ideas of strength, unity and support. We see the colour used within charities such as Breast Cancer Research, start up companies like Lyft and large telecommunication companies like T-Mobile.
Orange offers a sense of liveliness, energy and adventure. It’s also a colour that screams youthfulness and creativity. We see orange used by a lot of DIY stores, kid’s entertainment and food. For example, we see the colour used by B&Q, Nickelodeon and Fanta. The colour is also great as a background to allow text to pop.
The colour of happiness, friendliness, optimism and fun. Yellow is the happiest of all the colours and portrays your brand as happy, exciting and friendly. We see the colour often used by digital, food industry and delivery companies, such as DHL, McDonald’s and Snapchat.
A royal colour that is often associated with high-quality, authentic, itelleigence and, of course, luxury goods. It is popular with brands that look to display a sense of the quality of their products. Brands like Hallmark and Aussie, for example. We’ve also used the colour within the visual identity for Kleo. Purple gave Kleo a warmth that other associated colours did not and created a sense of intelligence and expertise
Simplicity, peace, hygiene and purity all come to mind when we see a white brand. Brands like Wikipedia, Apple and Mini all use white within their colour schemes.
Black provides an aura of luxury, sophistication, power and glamour. We see black as the source colour for many brands and industries due to its versatility and somewhat generic message. However, used within the correct brand imagery, black can be extremely powerful. Some of the most popular brands that use black are Disney, Sony and Nike.
Choosing the Right Colour
It is impossible to develop a formula for picking the perfect colour scheme for your brand. However, there are some rules and guidance we can provide.
Don’t Just Pick One Colour
Brands need a base colour, an accent and a neutral colour. Throughout a lot of successful colour design we can see the 60-30-10 rule apply. This rule states that 60% should be a main colour, which would be our base. 30% of the colour will be the neutral colour and 10% should be the accent. This creates a balance and helps draw the user to where you want them to go within a website for example.
Picking the Base
From the colour personalities listed above, which of them screams your brand? Which embodies your brand’s personality and traits perfectly? Congratulations, you just found your base colour!
As we move into accents, we step up the difficulty level. We not only want to match the brand’s personality but also match the colour pairing. Use a colour wheel to find the matching colours to your base. Use this information and the colours’ different hues to help match it to the emotion.
Neutral Colour Options
Neutrals help to bring balance and a sense of depth to a palette, offering a variant to the stark contrast some colours have sitting on white. We see neutrals as adding a calm or balance to a palette and because of this they are very important to get right. This can be especially true for digital products that require a range of tonal support neutrals to assist in their product UI.
Make Colour Part of Your Brand
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to colour. Ensure you understand your colours and the impact they might have on your brand. As we’ve discovered in this article, colour plays a bigger role than you may think.
If you’re looking for more insight into building your brand identity, check out our brand identity page here.