Studies show that our brains recognize color more than anything about a logo. Some say color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. Which is why choosing your colors are so important.
Maybe you already have a set of brand colors to work with. If that’s the case, you might want to skip ahead to, “What if I Already Have Colors?” But if you’re still choosing your colors, no need to throw paint combos on your canvas. We can help you make the choice easier by sharing some research with you.
Your Brand’s Personality
It’s important that you know what kind of story you’re trying to tell before you choose your brand colors. Do you want to seem fun and exciting? Or is it more important to you to seem steady and reliable? While you can absolutely be both of these things, you’re probably going to market one or two personality traits first and foremost.
A series of experiments published in the Journal of Academic Marketing Science were able to ascertain personality traits associated with certain colors. Note that the study was conducted on an American audience, and the same associative meanings may not hold true for audiences in other countries.
Try using this chart to pick colors that match your brand personality. Maybe you run a pet hospital. You’ll want to come off as competent and sincere, so try blue and white. Did you just open a wine bar downtown? You’ll want to go sophisticated.
Image Source https://www.helpscout.net/blog/psychology-of-color/
Women and Men See the World Differently
While you might get lucky using intuition to choose a color, let’s start with the facts about what colors work best for certain demographics.
While gender stereotyping can be reductive, the fact remains that there are some colors vastly preferred (or hated) by men and women. Do you organize triathlons for women? Consider branding using one of their favorite colors, like purple. Are you trying to reach a broader audience? Pick a color that both genders like.
Blue is a Safe Bet
The favorite color of both men and women is blue. In fact, chances are blue is your favorite color. That’s how popular it is, snagging 42% of the US population. This color is a safe bet for branding, especially when paired with the fact that it exudes competence, as we will see below.
Stay Away from Brown
Think of things that are naturally brown and you’ll see why it’s the most despised color by both sexes. It works in some cases, like to represent UPS’s ruggedness, but overall it is not a safe choice for a brand color. If you do use it in your web design, use it sparingly.
Split Opinions: Purple and Gray
There’s more disparity between men and women when it comes to the other colors. Both men and women tend to shy away from orange. While women love purple, men hate it. Yellow is a risky color for design and it does show up on the lists of most hated colors by men and women. And while men like gray, women seem to dislike it.
*Image Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-colors-affect-conversions/
But it’s not only about sex when it comes to demographics. You want to make sure your colors also match your brand personality.
Choosing Your Palette
Once you have an idea of the colors you want to work with, there are a lot of great resources to help you choose and match hues.
Adobe Color can help you create a palette based on color relationships. The monochromatic option will choose different shades of the color you select. Complementary will help you match colors from the opposite side of the color wheel.
Colour Lovers is a site where, you guessed it, people who love color design their own palettes. There are thousands of palettes to choose from. You can even browse palettes specifically designed for the web.
Not All Colors Print Well
Brands do not only exist online. Or in print. You’ll need to choose colors that print well. Computers subtract hues to create colors. Ink printers do the opposite, by layering colors to create different shades.
Some colors that exist on the web simply cannot be replicated by your printer.
If you’re going to be printing branded materials (business cards? flyers?) visit Pantone Color Finder or a similar site that will give the RGB (web) and CMYK (print) numbers for each. Then, do a test print to be sure the colors match up well.
What If I Already Have Colors?
Maybe you’ve had your brand colors for a while, but you’re realizing they aren’t the best for the personality you want to convey. If your logo is blue, can your business still seem exciting?
The answer is yes. The same researchers also found that highly saturated colors (or darker versions of a color, like royal blue) increases arousal, while high value colors (lighter versions of a color, like powder blue) are more calming. So you don’t have to rely on the one hue of the color to portray brand personality. Work with the colors you have, increasing or decreasing saturation to change the mood.
Color in Context
If blue is the favorite color of men and women, are we doomed to a world of all-blue websites? While demographics and color personalities can act as good starting points, you don’t have to be tied to them. Overall, colors need to be considered in their context.
You may have heard that green is traditionally a “calm” color” – but it’s also associated with the environmentalist movement. If you want your site to portray a calm personality, or if your cause is environmentalism, then it’s a smart color for you. Other colors also have meanings outside their “mood.” Red, white, and blue: all “American” colors. Red and blue are also associated with American political parties. Does this affect how appropriate they are for your business?
With so many things to consider when choosing your brand colors, here’s just one more: there are plenty of brands that use non-traditional color choices successfully. So, consider the facts carefully and design with them in mind. Don’t be afraid to take that paint brush back out and see if inspiration strikes. Just ensure the inspiration isn’t Jackson Pollock.