Be honest – is choosing your brand colours not the part of branding you most look forward to? There’s something about choosing colours that speaks to the child in us.
I know you’ve probably already been on Canva or Coolors.co and have a few dozen ideas ready to go, but now you’ve come to the hard part: actually choosing the right colours, not just the prettiest.
The good news is that there are a lot of people who just pick whatever they like best and jump into business using those colours, never pausing to consider what those colours might actually mean for their business. This can lead to building a business you don’t love, and getting your business back on track can feel like starting over.
So, what do you need to consider now to avoid that fate?
Why are the colours in your brand colour palette so important?
To explain why your choice of brand colours matters, we need to talk about colour psychology.
Each colour has associated emotions and meanings, some of which are individual to us, but most of which are shared by us all. Here are some of the associated emotions we have with colours:
Red: passion, danger, “stop”, excitement, power, love, energy, urgency.
Orange: happiness, success, sociable, optimism, creativity, fun.
Blue: relaxation, peace, confidence, trust, loyalty, competence.
Green: natural, healthy, freshness, “go”, growth, quality, luxury, ease.
Yellow: happiness, joy, warmth, cheerful, creativity, upbeat.
Purple: royalty, luxury, ambition, spirituality, energy, creativity.
Pink: love, compassion, sweetness, happiness, feminine.
Brown: earthy, natural, comfort, stability, honesty, warmth.
Black: Drama, seriousness, sophistication, security, luxury.
White: Innocence, clean, honesty, transparency, sophistication.
As you can see, there are overlapping feelings and this can be broken down further by shade to elicit just the right emotion – after all, a burnt orange shade likely won’t elicit the same feeling in you as bright orange would. Because we have such strong associations with colour, we need to be intentional with our choice of colours. Pick the wrong colours, and you may end up turning off your ideal customer and attracting customers you don’t mesh with.
How the Wrong Colours Can Harm Your Brand
Let’s look at this as an example: imagine you are a social media manager who wants to serve health and wellness brands. You look at other people’s brands you like the look of, and find that many of the people you follow have light pink and cream-coloured branding, with highlights of gold.
You get plenty of enquiries, but most of the enquiries you get are from women’s confidence coaches, makeup artists, and lifestyle bloggers, not wellness brands.
Why is this? Because light creams, pinks, and gold elicit a feminine, luxurious energy, which (in general) attracts the kinds of brands that also use those colours.
How do I choose the right brand colours?
To choose your brand colours, you’ve got to stop thinking about what you like and first consider what your ideal customer likes. Yes, there should be some overlap (do you really want to serve customers who favour colours you hate?), but first, consider what colours your ideal customer avatar is attracted to.
For our above example, health and wellness professionals will likely be attracted to greens and blues, perhaps with white. Why? Because their own brand is likely all about nature, healing, peace and tranquillity, honesty and transparency.
I recommend you create a full ideal customer avatar before you choose your brand colour palette, but here are a few prompts that can help you start the process:
- What does your ideal customer value?
- What are your brand values, or what 5 words would you use to describe your brand?
- What experience do you offer your customers?
- What do you do better for your ideal customer than any other brand?
- Without looking at anyone else’s brand, what colours come to mind when you think about your product or service and the results it produces?
Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you can start to look into what colours will best represent your brand and connect with your ideal customers.
When it comes to creating a colour palette, some of the best resources for doing so include Pinterest (search for “colour palette” for plenty of popular inspiration, but use your key colours to get better results) and Coolors.co. The latter is a good one when you’ve got a colour or two you want to use, but aren’t sure how to find complimenting shades. Coolors generates new colour combinations and you can lock in a colour you love once you’ve found it and continue to generate colours for the remaining shades.
Most colour palettes contain 5 or 6 shades in 3 main colours. For our social media manager example, they may choose two green shades, two blue shades, and two white or brown shades.
Take your time when choosing your colours to find those that are just right – if you already know someone (or have an audience) who is your ideal customer, don’t be afraid to ask them for their input to see which palettes they are most attracted to. Once you’ve chosen your palette and know your ideal customer inside-out, you can move on to thinking about creating all the other aspects of your brand identity. This can be another daunting step, so I highly recommend you grab my Master Checklist, as it provides you with a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to create a consistent brand identity.