How to Choose Your Brand Colours
We’ve talked at length, previously, about what branding is and how it encapsulates the feel of your brand. We also talked about how your brand is not one, single element but the sum of your visuals, your content and your values.
However, with that been said, a key element to your visual branding is your colour palette.
Colour is one of the quickest and most effective ways to instantly give readers an idea of your brand. Think back to when you were last decorating your home. Think about your colour choices. Part of the criteria for your selection was what the colour made you feel right? Some colours just felt too dreary, too bright or perhaps not bright enough.
There is a reason why, generally speaking, most people paint their bedrooms in what we perceive as relaxing colours rather than bright, vibrant blood reds and neon pinks. Of course, I am generalizing, but already when a say ‘soothing colour’ your mind is already jumping to a set of certain colours right?
So, already you can see there is a link between feelings, perceptions and the colours we use.
Indeed, the field of colour psychology is quite the prolific one and it has some interesting things to reveal to us about how colour effects us and our readers.
So, I’m not going to dive deep into the realms of psychology and studies but I wanted to really show you guys how much colour can affect you and your potential customers.
First, I think it’s well worth thinking very carefully about your brand colours because the way we perceive colours, to a large extent, doesn’t change with time. Whilst, of course, fashionable colours do come and go, the way that we feel about colours is not so changeable.
Ancient cultures, like the Egyptians, associated the colour orange with increased energy and vitality. Now, go and look at some of the biggest sports and health associations and tell me how many of them have orange in their brand colours. Better yet, tell me how many action movie posters have orange in them.
Not convinced? Any football fans in the house? No, me neither
rugby all the way but it is interesting that since 1947 English football teams who wear red kits have won the championship more times, proportionally, than those in different colours. Indeed 10% more goals are scored by teams wearing red.
All well and good but how is this relevant to business?
According to Forbes customers make a purchasing decision within 90 seconds and between 62 and 90% of that judgement is based on the colour of the product. Now, that’s a pretty wide margin but assuming we attribute the lowest figure ie 62%, that is still indicating that over half the reason why a customer may choose to buy your product is based on colour.
I’ll say that again because its blowing my mind:Over 62% of your customer's purchasing decision is based on the colour of your productClick To Tweet
And that is pretty huge.
Choosing Your Palette
I know it is so tempting to pick a set of colours because you love them or they just go really well together. So been there my friends. However, over time, you’ll find (or at least I did) that;
- I ended up using variations on those colours, or entirely different colours as my tastes and preferences changed, meaning my brand lacked it consistency and
- That every time I used the colours that I liked, I just found everything was just…’not quite right’, or not saying quite what I wanted to say.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t use your favourite colours. It is pretty likely that, as your brand is an extension of your passions, that your favourite colours might well make a great addition to the brand. However, you should make sure your colours are fitting the correct criteria.
Your Brand Values
The easiest place to start is to go back to your brand values, as we discussed in ‘Finding Your Niche’. What is the feeling that you want your reader to associate with your blog or store?
Refined and professional? Fun and carefree? Beautiful and luxury?
Write down four values for your business.
So for example, some of the values for our new Boss Shop are:
Fun. Bold. Inspirational. Exciting
So got a couple in mind? OK great, let’s have a look at what some of these colours mean
- sense of space
- thinning / slimming
Putting It All Together
If you’ve taken our ‘Design a Profitable Blog’ Course then you will know what I’m about to say next. Yep, it’s all very well picking colours that represent your values but what if, when you put them down on paper, they are just a horrendous mix of clashing colours?
Well, chances are if you are communicating a united brand vision that your colours aren’t going to be total opposites. However, creating a seamless palette might require a little bit of tweaking on your end.
So first you probably need to narrow down your colours to around four key colours. The idea behind this is that, not only will they be less likely to clash but it will help you create that feel of consistency. I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of people in Facebook Groups say how much they liked my site because it looks so well put together. And part of the reason why it gives that impression is consistent use of the same colours.
When it comes to what colours go together there will always be an element of having to judge it with your own eye. However, there a few techniques which you can use to make sure everything blends together perfectly.
If you are designing your brand then my number one recommendation to you is to read ‘How To Style Your Brand’ by Fiona Humberstone. It is what I consider to be a brand designer’s bible. Not only is it filled with inspirational brands but it helps gently guide you through the branding process.
Whenever I do any branding I use this book like an extremely comprehensive checklist to make sure I’ve considered all the elements I need to.
Anyway, to go back to colour, Fiona recommends that in order to maintain a good balance between your colours that you should stick to a season. So, for example, that if your brand values primarily fall into the ‘summer’ category, you should take out any colours that fall into a ‘winter’ category.
I find this to be really helpful, especially when looking at colours that don’t necessarily clash but don’t quite seem to go together. For example, a light yellow and a dark orange don’t necessarily look horrific together but also don’t really seem to go that well. If we look at them in terms of season this is because we are combining a summer colour and an autumn colour.
As with all things, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some season colours blur the line between the two personalities but in general I find this to be a handy guideline.
The Colour Wheel
We talk about this more in depth in our ‘Design a Profitable Blog’ Course, however if you are looking for a more technical way of picking out your colours then you will find it hard to go wrong with your colour wheel in tow.
Monochrome: Different shades of one colour (not just grey and white), ie pastel pink through to hot pink.
Triad: Colours that form a triangle across the colour wheel.
Analogous: These colours really fit together. Analogous colours are those that sit next to each on the wheel. Whilst these colours go really well together, make sure to remember to pick a contrasting colour for when you need an element to stand out on the page.
Complementary: OK, so slightly confusing but ‘Complementary colours’ are actually colours from the opposite sides of the wheel. Like our contrasting friends, blue and orange.
Split Complementary: Finally, these colours are the same as ‘Complementary’ but with a supporting colour thrown in. So say you have you contrasting pink and green. A ‘Split Complementary’ would also include a shade of purple, to support the pink.
I also find it useful, once I’m finally honing in on a palette, to begin testing it out on a few graphic elements. For example, buttons, logo variations etc. I’ve had more than a few colour palettes that I’ve been in love with, that I would have happily decorated my house with, but failed to pass the ‘utility test’ as I like to call it.
Usually this can be solved by making sure you have at least one ‘contrasting’ colour. One colour that really stands out on the page but is nicely supported by the other colours.
For example, with the Creative and Coffee branding you will notice that I have chosen a contrasting green to help punch out the important things on the page. I did this because the rest of the branding is fairly monochromatic and I wanted a splash of colour to bright up the palette. I choose the green as it fell opposite my pinks on the colour wheel to create a contrast, whilst still complementing the overall palette. I also felt it encapsulated the values of the Creative and Coffee brand by being fresh and tranquil.
We talk in great depth about buttons on the design course but suffice to say, your call to action and buy now buttons are all elements that you will want to have standing out on your page. Whilst this can be achieved in many ways, including copy, font and white space positioning, a strong contrasting colour will do wonders as well.
So, colour psychology plays a huge role in influencing your customer or reader. Not only can it influence their buying decisions but it can also help explain to your reader exactly what your brand values are. As pretty much all the graphic elements on your site will be made up of colour, it’s going to have the greatest, primary impact on what your new visitor is going to think of you.
So, what are your brand values and do your colours reflect them? Tell us all about in the comments!