Why colours can make or break your brand?
When it comes to visual branding, colours could be the most important element of your brand. Choosing the right colours with the right connotations for your brand is crucial. When choosing anything for your brand always consider the meaning we attach, choose colours that convey your values and try to avoid anything with negative connotations.
In this article, we will explore how to choose the right colours for your brand, look at some basic colour theory so it’s not all such a mystery and some free tools you can use to get it just right.
Emotions of Brand Colours
All colours have the power to emote certain feelings, sometimes it’s easier to group colours into categories such as warm and cold or seasonal. First, we’ll look at some general or obvious feelings linked to various colours.
The Basics of Colour Theory
I know all this branding stuff can seem like a mystery so let’s get some basics covered so you know how and why your brand works the way it does.
Colour theory is the explanation of how we perceive colour, why colours contrast and match and the subliminal messages they embody.
You could use colour theory to create a colour palette specific to your branding, which could help your brand stand out and help increase trust, connection and future sales.
It is important to note that once you have chosen your brand colour/s, it is going to be difficult to change them. Make sure you spend some time thinking over what you want to represent your business and make choices on what will grow with you.
“A colour wheel or colour circle is an abstract illustrative organization of colour hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colours, secondary colours, tertiary colours etc.” Wikipedia
Using a colour wheel can be a great asset when considering what colours compliment and contrast each other. You can usually trust your own judgement of whether colours fit together, as it will not look ‘quite right’. If you are less confident in your own colour abilities or need a guide, a colour wheel is a great place to start.
Adobe Color: www.color.adobe.com/create is useful for playing with a colour wheel, I’ll give you some info on using this site in a moment.
Warm and cool tones
Fiery reds and burnt oranges are more on the warm spectrum whereas icy blues and deep purples are considered colder colours. Placing a line down the centre of your colour wheel should show you the stark contrast between warm and cool colours.
Depending on your brand message you could use either end of the spectrum, but always keep in mind that colour is subjective, so you need know your ideal client inside and out.
Hues, Tints, Shades, Saturation
When you have chosen what tone of colour you want, the next part of finding your colours is looking into hues, tints, shades and saturation. These are all words you will be familiar with if you are an avid Instagram user.
Hue refers to the dimension of colour, whether it is in its purest form or mixed with hues of other colours. An example of this would be blue is the hue and indigo is a hue of both purple and blue.
A colour tint is found by focusing on how much white has been added to the hue, the amount of mixture is what changes the tint of the colour.
Shades come in the form of the addition of black to the hue.
Finally, saturation is the richness of colour, the higher the saturation of a colour the richer and brighter it appears and the lower the saturation the paler it becomes.
Complementary, Analogous and Triadic Colours
The above terms are just examples of different ways of placing colours side by side from your colour wheel.
Complementary colours are found by choosing a colour and then picking the direct opposite on the wheel, these are the colours that will fit nicely together in a sharp contrast and choosing these colours has been proven to be successful for a brand.
Analogous refers to three colours which lie next to each other in the colour wheel, it is possible to choose any starting point and find three colours that support each other. This would be a good idea to use if you wanted to use three colours in your branding, but keep in mind that there will still only be one dominant colour.
Lastly, triadic colours can be found by imagining a perfect shaped triangle in the middle of your colour wheel, wherever the three points lead to are the colours you need. The simplest example of triadic is the primary colours: red, blue and yellow. This is a tried and tested method for branding and guarantees a balanced final product.
How to Choose Brand Colours
Brand tone words
Beginning your colour journey with words will make it easier for you to choose the colours you want to be associated with your brand.
Choose five words that describe your brand values and how your ideal client should feel when they encounter your brand. You can choose them from the list or pick your own.
Once you have your five words write them down and head on over to Google image search or Pinterest and do some quick searches with ‘tone word + brand’ or ‘tone word + design’. For example, ‘elegant design’ or ‘elegant brand’, or ‘earthy design’ or ‘earthy brand’.
What kind of images, logos and colours come up? Is it how you see your brand?
Images for Brand Colour Inspiration
Feel like you need to do a bit more research? Images could help you pin down how your brand should feel.
Take a look at the images you want to associate with your brand, is there a colour theme found within your choices? If you haven’t got images of your own yet there are lots of options on sites such as unsplash.com or pixabay.com. Find images that speak your brand’s message and place them all together into a visual mood board in Pinterest or Canva. You can use these images to grab colours using some tools we’ll talk about in a sec.
The more examples you can find the easier it will be to draw out what colours are more relevant to your brand and what colours promote an opposing message.
Pick your main brand colour
Use your gut here to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. When you feel you’ve found some colours that resonate with your brand it’s time to pick your main colour and start to play with options for a palette.
Sometimes it is better to keep it simple and stick to one or two colours – consider the iconic ‘Coke’ red branding and how successful it has been only using one colour.
Colour palette tools
There are lots of free websites you can use to find the colour palette that is right for you. By accessing these colour palette generators you can be sure in your choice of colours and keep on brand. Below I have listed some pros and cons about each and how you can use them to find the perfect colours for you.
Adobe Color www.color.adobe.com/create
My personal favourite!
Adobe Color is probably the most popular tool for finding colour palettes for professional designers. You don’t need to be a professional to use this, it’s easy!
Use the colour wheel to find your base colour then apply the rules of the colour theory to create your own individual palette by playing with the buttons.
One of my favourite ways to use Adobe colour is to upload an image and use the options for colourful, bright, muted deep and dark to find my base colour, you can also simply pick colours from the image yourself.
On its own the extract from image option can come up with some great colour palettes but you can also just use it to pick a main colour and then switch to the colour wheel to try out more options. To do this drag your favourite colour from the selection to the centre position and just switch to the colour Wheel tab to try analogous, triadic or complementary configurations.
Each colour in your palette can be adjusted until you’re completely happy with your selection.
The best thing about using Adobe Color is you can download your choices of palette and use them in all your other desktop applications so your colour choices are easy to access.
Using Coolors can be a great way of finding your colour palette, you can download an app version on IOS devices or use your internet browser.
Coolors will take you on an online tutorial first and explain how to get the most out of it. All you need to do is press the spacebar and your new palette will be generated, giving you a range of five colours to choose from.
Each colour can be adjusted and you can lock colours in the palette so you change the others until you’re happy.
Another option with Coolors is to browse thousands of premade palettes by choosing the ‘explore’ option from the top right corner.
Canva Colors gives you the option to upload an image and will find all the dominant colours and give you the correct name and hex number. This can be a useful tool if you have pictures for your brand already or know what style you want associated with your branding. This is a bit less flexible than Adobe Color but still gives you some nice ideas. You could also find pictures from brands that belong in the same business sector which you look to for inspiration and find how they have put their colour palettes together.
When you have chosen your colour/s try showing them to a small focus group of people and ask them to write down what emotions your colour choices make them feel, just to be sure you do not end up with any unwanted connotations!
How to stick to your brand colours and keep them consistent
Now you have chosen your brands colour/s make sure you use them regularly, one way to do this is to become familiar with the hex code and input it as a theme or app before creating graphics or a website. Click here to find more information about stunning website design. If you have premium Canva you can add a brand colour palette that makes it faster and easier to use your brand colours.
Keeping a note of your colour choices should help you stay consistent so write it down and don’t forget to share the info with anyone else on your team.
Stick to these colours in your social media, website, adverts, anywhere your brand is seen. Use everything you have learnt on colour theory to create your professional brand that appeals to your target audience.