Danny Somekh September 23rd, 2021

How to Choose the Right Colour Scheme for Your Brand

Whether you're just about to start a new project or updating your existing branding, it's worth considering the impact that colour can play in communicating your brand values. In fact, studies now show that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent!

Though you could be forgiven for thinking that brand colours are an easy choice, in reality choosing a palette for your brand was never as simple as deciding on three, four, or even five colours that look nice together. The perceived meanings behind colours play an important role when it comes to brand colouring, so learning exactly how to understand colour semiotics and then applying that to your specific brand is a recipe for success.

The bad news is that choosing the 'right' set of hues is often a struggle. Fortunately, this article will help make sense of exactly how to understand colour theory, choose the colours that will work, and craft the perfect palette for your brand. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Understand Colour Semiotics

Colours have a special place in branding as they communicate with your customer's hearts and minds rather than just their brains. Psychologists and philosophers have studied the meaning of colours for centuries, with some notable works by Freud and Jung.

According to Dr Pamela Rutledge, research on colour preference and meaning dates back to the first empirical study conducted by Cohn on the emotional effect of color and light in 1894. She goes on to explain that “With color we can simulate life experiences,” meaning that we can stir up real emotions and memories within the user's unconscious mind with just the right blend of hues. 

Colour is also the element of brand identity that taps into our unconscious thought processes. In fact, further research goes on to show us that when entering stores, perceived “warm” colours like yellow or red can actually attract customers in or influence buying decisions! 

We recommend that you learn everything you can about colour semiotics and what each colour could mean to your target audience before diving headfirst into a palette. Take some time to consider what colour semiotics align with your brand values and what feels right. Ideally, you don’t want to have to change them later down the line! Here are some examples of common colour semiotics:

  • Red Could Represent: Danger, Excitement, Strength
  • Orange Could Represent: Friendliness, Confidence
  • Yellow Could Represent: Optimism, Happiness
  • Green Could Represent: Growth, Renewal, Nature
  • Blue Could Represent: Clean, Trust
  • Purple Could Represent: Intuition, Creativity

2. Identify the Essence of Your Brand

The second step when choosing your brand colours, is to identify the essence of your brand. The essence of your brand is referring to a short statement that sums up what your brand is all about. You can identify the essence of your brand by first discovering your brand identity.

When searching for your brand essence, you will need to identify your brand goals, your USPs, and your values. A brand essence is usually described in just a few words, some great brand essence examples that you’ve probably heard of are Nike’s “Innovation and Inspiration,” or Airbnb’s “Belonging.” These words highlight the overall feel of both companies and serve to let customers know that they are in the right place and connected to the right services.

When you are confident in the overall identity of your brand and can sum this up in a short and to-the-point statement, you’re ready to apply them to your brand colours. Think back to the colour semiotics we discussed before. Align colour semiotics with your industry, values, services and objectives and you will find your perfect brand palette.

3. Study Competitor Branding

When it comes to branding, competitive analysis is vital. Study what colours and hues your competitors are using, how they are using them and if they are effective. Take what works and leave what doesn’t! If you’re working as part of a wider marketing team, you could even undertake in-depth competitor analysis to enhance your results even more.

In general, we recommend that you aim for visual consistency with other companies in your sector – both those whose products you sell and those you buy from. Incorporate the colours of your suppliers and customers to convey a coherent message and enhance your brand recognition. Not only should it be evident what kind of product or service you offer, but the essence of your brand should be evident too.

Having said that, you want to stand out from your competitors where possible too. Whether that means incorporating a different combination of colours, utilising different shades, or dabbling with contrasting colours as well as complementary colours, it is possible to keep your colours industry appropriate and unique from your competitors. That’s the sweet spot.

4. Create Your Unique Brand Colour Palette

The moment you’ve all been waiting for - choosing your brand palette. Now that you have an understanding of how different colours affect your brand image, you can get creative! Test out different tones and hues, figure out which colours complement each other, where they work best, and exactly which shades your brand palette will include. Using apps like Canva allows you to save your brand palette and more, allowing you to easily create visual content consistent with your brand ready for your website or socials!

Don’t be fooled! Choosing the right colour scheme for your brand is no easy task, it takes time and effort to get the perfect match that will represent what your business stands for. That’s why these tips are so important. You want to choose colours that are professional and on-brand, while also trying to ensure they look good together and stand out against competitors.

One Final, Unofficial Step: Show Your New Brand Palette Off!

Now that you have your brand palette ready, you can start implementing it. That means that they should be used whenever possible to help your business stand out to customers. Always use them when promoting your brand online and offline too, including on social media where they can be viewed by millions across the globe. 

Our top tip: remember to always keep your brand colours consistent! A confusing brand identity is sure to lose you customers!

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Danny Somekh

Danny Somekh is the founder of Huddle Creative, a branding and digital agency that produces creative work for clients of all sizes and sectors.

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