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What colour should I make my brand identity and logo?

Emily Cleevely

What colour should I make my brand identity and logo?

You’re trying to design the logo for your brand or thinking about a colourway for your virtual and printed copy.  How do you know what colours to pick?  Can you just plump for your favourites or is there some science behind the way in which brands choose their colour schemes?  Can you affect the way a consumer sees you JUST by using a particular colour?

Colours create feelings

There’s lots of research which says that colours have a huge effect on how people feel, and that these feelings can change how people behave as consumers.  One such piece of research showed that, just by changing the colour of the call to action button, click throughs on a webpage increased 21%. Another research study showed that 90% of snap judgements about products are made on colour alone.

Human beings have known that decisions are affected by colours for thousands of years (fact: even the ancient Egyptians used colour symbolically!). 

Brand colour psychology is the study of how human emotions around colours affect consumer perceptions about brands. Colour psychology can help give a framework for understanding how and why consumers interact with your brand in the way they do.

Nuances in colour

It’s not quite as simple as changing the buttons on your website and letting a magic colour get you sales (as that first study might have you believe).

Think about the connotations of red, for example. Red is used widely to represent danger – on STOP signs, warning triangles, traffic lights. Yet it’s also synonymous with love or lust – think about the branding of Valentine’s Day or the connotations of red lipstick.  Our reaction to colour cannot be expressed in simple terms.

The feelings someone will infer from a colour are dependent on the object, its context and who is observing it.  When you’re designing your brand colours, this gives you a fantastic opportunity: you can make sure that the colours of your brand identity create the emotions you want from the customers you are focused on.  A 2006 study found that this idea of ‘perceived appropriateness’ is the crux of the relationship between colour and brand.

It’s all about your customers

In short, the answer to “what are the best colours for my brand?” from a colour psychology point of view is, “the ones that communicate the right message to your perfect audience.”

Knowing your customers – who they are, their demographics, what they think, why they choose to act in a particular way – will allow you to differentiate your brand design and identity to best appeal to your ideal customer. 

Research has found that predicting how your perfect customer will react to your chosen colours for your brand is far more important than the colour itself.

I don’t have a degree in colour psychology – where do I start?

If you’re looking to create a brand logo, makeover your brand design or make standards for your brand identity, here are the five steps to help you on that journey:

  1. Know your target audience.  Spend time getting to know your people.  You can do this through analytics from social feeds your business already has, using surveys amongst existing customers, or identifying your target market and using third party services to get polling data about how they behave as consumers.  Find out what motivates them and what their biggest concerns are.
  2. Know what differentiates your brand.  Get clear on who you really are as a company, what makes you tick, what your biggest values are, what you offer to the market that nobody else can.  These should be reflected in the brand identity and logo you eventually choose.  Want to be trusted and unshakeable?  That’s going to need a different colour approach than a company that wants to look fun and spontaneous.
  3. Read around some resources on brand colour psychology.  We’d recommend these as good starting points.
    • Coschedule has a really detailed article about the emotions generated by different colours.
    • Essence has published an infographic showing brands and colour meanings.
    • Hubspot has a handy breakdown of colour emotions and gender
  4. Go back and check your ideas with your audience.  It’s best not to make assumptions.  You could run focus groups amongst your customers or target audience, alternate your top 2-3 brand colour schemes on your website during a promotion to see how each one performs, or offer a discount for feedback on your new brand identity.
  5. Make your brand identity consistent across your business.  So often, businesses spend time and money creating a logo, or evaluating the colour scheme across their website, only for these standards to be lost in the depths of the shared folder. Set up brand guidelines including your colour palette in RGB and CMYK, how the colours should be used across your content (e.g. headers are always orange, call to action buttons are always turquoise) and with links to the approved logo files. Make sure new employees are trained in these resources and existing employees know how important brand identity is for business success.

Make sure your brand will always communicate the right message to your perfect audience.

If you’d like to talk more about your brand identity design, drop us a line.

Regine Wilber

I am a brand consultant and conceptual designer. I love using creativity to solve problems for our clients. In my spare time, I like jigsaws and probably a bit of a board game geek. 

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