Having been a graphic designer & brand builder for over 20 years now, one thing I have learned is the importance of color. It is easy to want to choose a color because it is a hue we like or we think that whatever we chose is fine. Colors don’t mean anything, right? Wrong! Color is one the most important choices you can make for your brand. Every shade and tone has meaning, and color along with visuals, are the things we remember most. Choosing a color needs to be intentional and its usage needs to be consistent to build brand equity.
Here are my 3 tips on how to choose a color for your brand.
1. Understand basic color theory & meaning of color. Does the meaning support your brand’s personality and/or your point of difference? When foundational strategic elements compliment each other, your brand becomes memorable at a sub-conscious level. When you see robin egg blue do you immediately think of Tiffany's? How about bright orange - does Home Depot come to mind? And how do you feel when you see both of these colors? Emotional and mental associations are key to consider when selecting the right hue to represent your company.
2. Be smart how and where you use your color. Don’t just flood it as a background where it can easily be dismissed and don’t use it as bullets in your copy. These are not meaningful. Use it to draw attention to your key messages, that way color & key messages can be associated together.
Coca-Cola creatively uses its signature red and white contrast across touchpoints. They've given their colors the power to tell a story in their advertising and immediately signal the brand at shelf.
3. Road test your color out before deciding. See it in both large & small applications. On dark background & light backgrounds. Make sure the same color, looks the same whether it is on the web or on a printed piece. 3 different reds are not going to be remembered, but the same red used 3 times will.
Don't be afraid to stand out
Many industries have a color standard, like blue and white for healthcare or black in fashion. To stand apart while reassuring customers, I recommend new businesses choose a unique hue as their primary color while including the standard color as an accent. Ally Bank and their purple hue is a great example of diverging from the norm as a new entrant in a competitive and cluttered market.
For existing businesses who have established equity using the color standard, consider a different shade and unique accents to refresh your identity and create distinction. For reference, Southwest Airlines has evolved its gold, red and blue color palette over the past few decades, but has always been choiceful in how each tone shifts to ensure they remain unique in the industry.
When selected with intent, color can elicit instant recognition and create a competitive advantage for your company. Consistently and creatively executing it across marketing and sales touchpoints will help build emotional and rational associations for your customers, making it easier for them to identify your brand.
The Brand Evaluator is a joint venture of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design LLC and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building LLC. We work with emerging businesses to help them clearly and meaningfully convey their organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.