Imagine an app built for mindfulness and meditation. What are your expectations of its interface, brand colors, and interactive elements like transitions between pages or built-in videos?
And now think of a gym that’s focusing on CrossFit and weight training. What colors in their homepage or interior would be the most suitable and motivating for you?
Most likely, you have two different pictures in your mind right now. That’s because brand colors remain a vital factor in determining how we look at products, how we feel about the brand, and what actions we take.
People subconsciously judge brands within 90 seconds of interaction, and up to 90% of the time that assessment is based on brand colors alone. For this reason, you should choose the colors in branding really thoughtfully.
What exactly are brand colors?
Brand colors are one of the most powerful tools to build brand awareness and associations. There’s a common misconception that branding colors are the ones used in the company’s logo, and everything else can be matched to the platform or use case. But it’s so much more than that.
The color palette you’ve chosen in your brand kit should be consistent with your entire brand infrastructure. You need to align all your visual assets like the homepage, app, product packaging, social media platforms, user manuals, and banners to be styled with the brand colors to create a broad and united brand. Read more about the benefits of branding on our blog.
The importance of branding colors
Colors trigger different emotions
One of the most prominent scholars in color theory, Faber Birren, spent most of his academic career studying the influence of color. Rather than saying that colors directly influence emotions, he wrote that it’s the human perception of colors that affects our emotions.
That’s why we see and feel about brand colors differently. While one person is excited about elegant black design, the other finds it depressing and overwhelming.
Scientists have found that our brain associates color with objects we like (e.g., fuchsia with tasty raspberries) or dislike (e.g., teal color with rotten food). In combination with cultural, geographical, or cognitive differences, color perception can be pretty subjective. The conclusion? You should be prudent when you choose your brand colors.
Brand colors play a huge role in decision making
Once the color triggers your emotions, it will pretty likely affect your decision making as well. In a groundbreaking study of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, he found that even if we believe we’ve made a logical decision, that choice is usually based on emotion.
With branding, businesses can create powerful emotional connections with their audience and customers. Imagine yourself walking into a grocery store, trying to pick a product between unknown brands – most likely, the first one to grab your attention would be the one with brand colors and packaging that triggers a desire or interest in your mind.
Strengthening brand awareness
Most importantly, consistently using your brand colors creates a strong association with your product for potential buyers. That’s a huge plus for your brand awareness as a whole.
To better understand this, look at the color palette below.
Can you recognize the brand?
This is the Slack core color palette. The combination of these iconic colors is so consistently used in all of Slack’s assets that most of us create an immediate connection whenever we see them together.
Wrapping up the importance of brand colors – colors create emotions and emotions lead to decisions. If the palette is wisely chosen, brand colors can help get people to take action now or after a few more interactions with your brand – that’s just a matter of time.
But how do I choose the right colors for a brand?
That’s a big question. We’ll guide you through six steps to help you choose brand colors that click with your potential customers.
1. Define your brand identity
Most likely, you’ve already done that, but let’s think about it again. To better understand who you are as a brand, try answering the following questions:
- What’s your mission as a company?
- What are your values and beliefs?
- If your brand were a person, what characteristics would they have?
- What communication style would they use?
- What are the unique things about your company?
By clarifying the answers to these questions, it’s easier to see yourself as a whole and decide what brand colors create associations that support your mission, values, and personality.
2. Define your audience and their associations
As we learned previously, the effect of brand colors depends on what emotions are triggered. There are a lot of factors in how the human brain perceives different colors.
That’s why you need to make sure you know your audience. Are they kids choosing from different juice boxes? Are they B2B clients looking for a cybersecurity solution for their organization? Or maybe young moms trying to find the best fitness center for group exercise?
When you think about your target audience, ask yourself these questions:
- Try to define the age, gender, location, and cultural aspects of your target audience. Are there any specific color associations for this group?
- How do you want them to feel about your brand?
- What are they looking for in your product?
- What emotion would drive them to make a purchase?
3. Explore the meaning of brand colors
When you know all the answers to previous questions, you can start putting them together with potential branding colors.
Though the perception of brand colors is subjective and is based on many external factors such as cultural differences, time, shades, tones, and combinations of color, there are lots of color theories that try to explain the meaning of colors.
Here are the most popular brand color meanings in a nutshell.
Red color meaning
Red is for passion, energy, and danger. It’s usually associated with heat, love, and excitement. It’s also commonly used as a brand color to urge action, for example, in CTA buttons on websites or for appetite stimulation, which is why in many fast food restaurants’ logos, you’ll find elements of red.
Orange color meaning
Orange is about creativity, youth, and enthusiasm. It combines the heat of red and the playfulness of yellow. Orange is an excellent choice for youthful and creative brands. Also, you can use it to draw attention to something or promote action.
Yellow color meaning
Yellow spreads happiness, hope, and positivity. It’s commonly linked with joy because it’s the color of smiley faces and the sun. Yellow is the perfect choice to grab attention instantly. However, it is commonly associated with low prices.
Green color meaning
Green stands for nature, growth, harmony, wealth, and stability. It’s a broadly recognized choice of brand color for eco-friendly and organic products, creating a solid connection with nature. Though shades of color matter, as neon versions of green will have the opposite effect and bring more artificial and innovative vibes to your brand palette.
Blue color meaning
Blue is about peace, trust, intelligence, and professionalism. No surprise, it’s the most popular color globally, both for personal preferences and brand colors. You can often see it in the logos of IT companies, financial institutions, big corporations, and social media platforms. If you want your brand to be immediately associated with professionalism and trust, blue is a safe choice.
Purple color meaning
Purple is often associated with luxury, mystery, and spirituality. It’s a combination of passionate red and calm blue. To add a sparkle of mysticism and spirituality, you can include shades of purple in your brand color palette.
Pink color meaning
Pink usually represents femininity, playfulness, romance, and sensitivity. It’s one of the least common branding colors, right after brown. We’re still at the phase when pink is associated with products made for women or something sweet and cute. However, if you’re brave enough and see it as a good idea, pink can add some playfulness to the brand color palette and help you stand out in front of others.
Brown color meaning
Brown is a natural color and stands for stability, warmth, honesty, and support. It can also represent practicality, old-fashioned goods, or… chocolate. If your brand represents natural and organic products, brown combined with green could be a good fit.
Black color meaning
Black stands for power, elegance, and sophistication. It’s commonly used in graphic design – black can be bold by itself, add a nice touch in details, or provide a super-powerful combination with any other color (e.g., silver for exclusivity or bright neon for a chic and modern look).
White color meaning
White color spreads simplicity, minimalism, and aesthetics. It’s the most neutral color and can be very useful in your brand color palette for assets like web pages, packaging, or secondary accents. Combining white and pastels will create a soft and mild feeling. White and black – classy minimalism, but with golden elements, it will make a luxurious yet pure design.
Gray color meaning
Gray is a mature, formal, professional color, sometimes feeling a little conservative or conventional. However, different shades of grey are used in web and graphic design as an alternative for black or white. It’s a neutral color that connects well with practically everything, for example, blue for even more professional matches or bright yellow for shocking and eye-catching designs.
Multicolor brand logos are fun, inclusive, optimistic. It’s a fantastic color choice if you want your brand to be associated with openness and diversity.
4. Explore competitors
Your logo and ad banners are just some of your brand identity elements that you want to look unique, not to be confused with other brands. Before ordering new business cards with your new brand colors, explore your competitors.
Even if you’re in a ketchup business and all the competitors use red color and look pretty similar, find something unique in your brand. Maybe it’s your sustainable production or reusable materials in the packaging. Be different, brave, and try to pop in the grocery aisle.
5. Create a branding color palette
Of course, one color is not enough to create a branding color palette. But how do you choose the brand colors that look professional and resonate with your target audience?
Here are four common ways to choose the right branding color combination.
The analogous color palette is a combination of three colors next to each other on the color wheel. They are low-contrast and are typically used for backgrounds and softer designs. Autumn and spring color palettes are good examples of analogous color combinations.
The monochromatic color palette consists of different tints, tones, and shades of one color. These are soft combinations that look great in charts and graphs, creating a clean and polished effect.
The triadic color palette presents a balanced combination of three different colors that form an equilateral triangle on the color wheel. The best way to use triadic color schemes is to choose one color as the main background color and use the other two as accent colors.
The complementary color palette includes two high-contrast colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Together these brand colors create a bold effect and are best used when you want something to really stand out.
However, even if you’ve chosen the colors that represent your brand the best and look great together, you still need to apply best design practices to avoid the most common color mistakes.
One of such examples is the 60-30-10 rule for arranging brand colors within your design. This means that when you’ve chosen a brand color palette with 3 colors, try distributing them in your graphics so that a dominant color takes up 60% of your design, secondary color for about 30%, and an accent color for the final 10%. These proportions will make your design look more polished and complete.
6. Create brand assets
Presentations, virtual backgrounds for meetings, videos, reports, email banners, and any other external-facing content coming from your company should be on-brand.
The easiest way to bring your brand colors to life is to create a brand kit before starting to make brand assets. When doing so, you’re not only helping yourself but also giving your creator’s team everything they need to keep all the visual materials consistently on brand.
Branded videos, webinars, and virtual meetings
Within Prezi Video, you and your team can quickly create engaging branded video content in minutes. This is perfect for sales pitches, marketing videos, training sessions, company updates, and more. Record on-brand videos to share asynchronously, or present live through the Prezi Video desktop app and your preferred video conferencing tool.
Engaging presentations in your brand colors
Presentations are an important part of everyday work for most of us. And using brand elements in presentations is a must-have, especially, if you’re pitching your brand or product externally. Prezi Present is your go-to tool to make interactive presentations that not only express your brand identity in the most engaging way possible but also wow your audience, breaking all the assumptions about sales presentations and traditional slides.
Interactive data visualizations and graphics
We recommend your brand asset library includes social media visuals, infographics and reports, posters, charts and graphs, maps, and other visual elements. Whether you’re using these materials internally or externally, preserving the right style and brand colors will make them look professional and compelling. You can apply your brand kit to any project in Prezi Design to create interactive, engaging graphics and data visualizations that are always on brand.
Increasing brand awareness takes time, but being consistent with your branding colors, voice, style, and other brand assets will help you drive results more effectively.