Color is an integral part of any design. From logo creation to print ads, website design to product packaging, the choice of colors has a big impact on how your company or product is perceived. When establishing a visual identity for your brand, it is important to choose colors that match your brand’s personality and values.
Color can affect our emotions, give us information, and tell us something about a person or company. More than just affecting aesthetics, color can actually affect how well a message is understood and the emotions it invokes in the audience.
The colors you choose communicate something about your brand to your customers. Black is dependable and clean, but can also be perceived as too strict or boring. Yellow is playful and fun, but less powerful than darker colors. Not only do your brand colors need to reflect the right characteristics, they also have to look good across different platforms and applications – logo, website, business cards, uniforms, packaging, etc.
The specific colors you use for your branding are influenced by many factors. A big part of it will be determined by what customers are used to seeing for your type of business. You want to look like you belong in your industry, but be distinct from your competitors (read our article about fitting in and standing out).
You may choose to go with a traditional color combination (see our next article for more details on color theory) or you may choose to create a more unique palette.
In the end, however, the decision on color often ends up being subjective. Everyone has their favorite colors and different color combinations are going to appeal to different people.
The Psychology of Color
Each color carries with it an inherent emotional impact. Through genetics and social conditioning, we have developed instinctual reactions to different colors. Because of this, many colors naturally lend themselves to being used in certain industries. Below are the some emotions and ideas associated with different colors. However, the meaning of colors varies in different cultures, so international companies should take particular care to choose colors that send the intended message to their audience.
Stimulates the senses and raises blood pressure. An emotionally intense color. Red works well as an accent or call to action because it draws attention.
- Danger or stop
- Sense of urgency
- Increases appetite
Generally used for brands and products that appeal to women or children. Lighter tints can be used to impart peace and tranquility while brighter versions convey fun and adventure.
Orange has a sense of energy and fun, so is often used for younger audience. It works well with more organic shapes and fluid layouts and can enhance a sense of motion or energy. It works well against a dark contrasting color, such as black.
Yellow draws attention, especially when paired with a contrasting color. It can be hard on the eye if overused. It often makes nearby colors look more vibrant.
- Easy to work with
Green has an almost universal appeal. It is easy on the eyes and imparts both a relaxing and confident feel. Bright green is creative and energetic while dark green is professional and reliable.
- Go (“green light”)
- Luck (four-leaf clover)
Blue triggers a relaxed physiological reaction. It is calming and authoritative, but generally not very exciting.
In western cultures, purple has come to symbolize royalty and wealth. It is a very distinct color and can be hard to pair with other colors.
Brown is often used as a background or secondary color. It pairs well with brighter colors. It can also be used to establish a vintage or retro look.
Black can be used both for understated minimalistic designs and for bold, powerful images.
Depending on the other colors in the palette, gray can either be strict and clean or soft and calming.
White provides a clean slate and works well in minimalistic designs because it is the very epitome of neutrality.