branding colors

5 Steps to Choosing Branding Colors That Will Suit Your Brand

This study shows that 62‐90% of a product assessment is based on branding colors alone.

It’s not a secret anymore that the branding colors you choose to represent your brand can affect how consumers perceive you. Yes, color psychology matters, and if used correctly can boost not only the recognizability of your business but also directly influence your returns. 

Previously, in one of our articles we briefly touched on the subject of color psychology, and today we’re expanding on that. Once done with the post you’ll learn:

  • The meaning of colors;
  • What colors are more suitable for certain industries; 
  • How to choose the color palette for your business, and more!

How powerful are the colors exactly?

In short, very. People do not see colors as colors; they convey associations, emotions, cultural meanings, and even symbolic experiences from centuries ago. Like, green and brown are seen as symbols of grass, nature, and ground.

Knowing what rings a certain bell in the mind of your customer is a powerful weapon that is widely used in today’s marketing and branding techniques.

Example: Food companies often use the color red in their branding, as it’s known to spark the appetite, and scream urgency, thus creating a FOMO effect of sorts. McDonald’s or Taco Bell are the perfect examples.

As a brand, you need to create an unbreakable emotional bond with your client: this will ensure they see you as a friend, advising good products, and not just a company trying to sell something. This is where you should concentrate on getting those branding colors just right.

But how do I choose?

This is where it gets tricky. There are more than 6 million colors, it is understandably hard to choose among them. But we’re here to help!

In this section, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the process of picking the right branding colors: some advice from personal experience.

1. Color = the brand’s message

The first step for you would be to determine your brand

  • What is your mission? 
  • What emotion would you like to be evoking?
  • What image do you want to establish?
  • What associations you’d like your customers to have when thinking about your brand?

These are the questions you need to answer before getting into the colors. Why?

As said earlier, colors are capable of sending a strong message and evoke certain emotions. Let’s say a company’s mission is to help orphan children find their homes. Using reds or oranges will not align well with it, as they scream warnings, urgency, and energy. 

2. Study color codes

Yellow, a color of joy and positivity.

branding color yellow

Yellow has a strong association with the sun, thus bringing up the feeling of warmth, summer, friendliness. Yellow has also the ability to stand out among other colors, concentrating viewers’ attention on the highlighted area. 

Example. Snapchat

Brand book style: friendly, outgoing, extraverted, fun.

Brand’s mission: “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”

Color palette: ‘We love yellow. It is one of our most important brand elements. Say hello to Snap yellow.’

snapchat brand guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

Orange, the color of friendliness, and trustworthiness.

branding color orange

Being a combination of the joyful yellow and eye-grabbing red, orange is radiating both friendliness and energy. Oftentimes used in brands working with teens and young adults as target audiences.

Red, a color of energy and passion.

branding color red

Bright, young, and energetic, red is believed to raise blood pressure and increase the heart rate. It is widely associated with a feeling of excitement, urgency, and even aggressiveness.

Example. Pinterest

Brand book style: funky, eye-catching, friendly, cozy, trustworthy.

Brand’s mission: to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.

Color palette: Pinterest can be easily identified by their signature color called Pinterest red.

pinterest brand guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

Purple, a color of royalty and exclusiveness.

branding color purple

Using purple as a branding color can give your customers a feeling of being included in a special circle, of them being special. It is also often given the properties of creativity, imagination, mysteriousness, and elegance.

Example. Yahoo

Brand book style: exuberant, inspiring, excited, joyful.

Brand’s mission: to inspire, delight, and entertain.

Color palette: a primary purple – a bright shade termed as “grape jelly” and secondary purples known as “hulk pants” and “malbec”, as well as accent colors.

yahoo branding guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

Black, the color of sophistication, and richness.

branding color black and white

A popular color, that will never go out of fashion. Elegant, strict, and powerful it is perfect for selling expensive goods.

White, a color of purity and elegance.

branding color white

White color is generally considered to be simple, innocent, and noble. Customers seem to trust the brands that incorporate white into their designs.

Example both for white and black colors. Apple.

Brand book style: sophisticated, elegant, simple, passionate.

Brand’s mission: to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.

Color palette: a minimalistic color combination, that is now widely associated with this brand is: silver, black and white.

apple brand guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

Blue, the color of relaxation, and safety.

branding color blue

Blue is associated with security and reliability; reminding of the sea and ocean, this color is all about relaxation and stress relief. Having the ability to inspire confidence, this is one of the most popular branding colors.

Example. Behance

Brand book style: professional, trustworthy, creative, inspiring.

Brand’s mission: empowering the creative world to make ideas happen.

Color palette: Keeping to a rather conservative color palette, Behance’s main colors are ribbon blue, blueberry, and celeste.

behance brand guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

Green, the color of nature, and health.

branding color green

As we have mentioned earlier green is a color of nature: brands that want to appear organic, healthy, fresh are widely using it as their branding color.

Example. Spotify

Brand book style: bold, rich, lively, active, electric.

Brand’s mission: to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.

Color palette: Spotify has always been green, and that won’t change. While embracing a much more colorful language in brand communications, Spotify Green is the brand’s resting color, used only in situations where the brand palette is not being used.

spotify brand guidelines
The brand book created on Gingersauce.

3. Analyze competitors

The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time creating an awesome visual identity with what seemed to be perfect branding colors, and for it to end up looking exactly the same as your competitor’s.

Within the same industry, it is very easy to get stuck on one or two colors conveying that perfect ‘vibe’ you’re going for. By analyzing your competitors’ color palettes you can move beyond the boundaries and create something that will stand out – visually and emotionally.

4. Consider cultural differences

If you are targeting an audience of a certain country – this is another thing that needs to be decided beforehand – make sure you’re aware of the color culture of that region.

Though mostly all colors evoke similar emotions worldwide, there are some exceptions tightly bound to the historical experiences rooted in a certain nation’s mind.

For example, generally considered a happy color, yellow is associated with death and mourning in Latin America and the Middle East. Same with white – a symbol of purity in the West, in Asia, it is used at funerals and represents sterility, mourning, unhappiness, and misfortune.

5. Consider where will your colors be used

Here’s a list of places you will need to be using your colors:

  • logo
  • website
  • storefront
  • in-store design
  • staff uniforms
  • Advertisements

☝? Tip: If your business has to do with printing, or you’ll need a lot of print-outs, an overly colorful palette will be more expensive to print. Try going with something simpler.

Bottom Line

Picking branding colors is not easy and should be approached with a great deal of thought. Make your visual coherent with the message you’re spreading; there is no need to be confusing people – even if it’s a subconscious uneasiness called by the dissonance of the mission and visual representation. 

Picked Your Colors? Add them to Your Brand Guidelines!

Gingersauce is a professional tool for creating brand guidelines, that combines smart automation and your creativity. It’s a professional tool – meaning, it won’t do a half-baked job, leaving you with a mediocre result. 

A key component of brand guidelines keeping a record of your brand colors: Gingersauce will gather all your visuals in one place and will help you make sure your brand design stays consistent and cohesive. You can download a created brand book right away – it will look promising even with no customization!

Create My Brand Guidelines

The author

Josh Bloch
Josh Bloch

Josh is a multidisciplinary designer with over 20 years of experience in industrial design, exhibitions, branding, 2d and 3d animation, graphics for print and digital, illustration, and UX/UI for mobile and desktop apps.

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