How to Choose the Best Colors for Your Brand
A logo is of crucial importance in brand identity design, but there’s something else that’s equally significant: the colors you’re using to create the identity of your brand. For one reason or another, colors are the Cinderella of brand identity design, at least in the case of those business owners that don’t quite understand why they should bother with them.
Too many people mix colors mindlessly and afterward, are mystified that no-one pays attention to their brands, let alone recognize them. Before you decide to rely on a brand identity agency or a brand identity style guide, try to implement the following tips for choosing the most suitable colors for your brand.
Brand Identity Design – Tips on Color Choices
- Passive and aggressive colors
You don’t need to work in brand identity design to know that colors can be described as either passive or aggressive.
- Passive colors are colder: violet, blue, cyan, and their variations.
- Aggressive colors are warmer and give off more light: yellow, red and orange.
Now here’s the trick: what domain is your company in? Is it in a field that involves a lot of socializing directly with your customers? Does it work with the public more than with anything else? If so, you should use aggressive colors. Even though they’re perceived as “aggressive,” they are not aggressive per se.
Toxic green, for instance, could be construed as a genuinely aggressive color, because it claws at your eyes. Warmer colors are recommended for those brands that deal a lot with people. By contrast, passive colors should be used by rather impersonal brands.
How to Create Contrasts
Many inexperienced people create contrasts by adding a ton of colors in their logos and their websites. That’s a rookie mistake, but seriously grave. The key to successful brand identity design isn’t the rainbow. You should be familiar with the following coordinates of a color:
- Lightness: This is, evidently, the amount of light that is transmitted/emitted by a particular
- Saturation: This simply sets the levels for gray, white or black in a color. The color red, for instance, with a saturation gradually set towards the neutral point becomes grayer. When the saturation is driven in the other direction, that same red color becomes a brilliant red.
- Value: It sets the darkness or lightness of a particular Red, for example, can become a beautiful burgundy if the value is set correctly.
- Shade: It adds black to a color.
- Tint: It adds white.
- Tone: It adds gray.
Any image manipulating software, like Photoshop or Lightroom, allows you to play with these coordinates in order to create beautiful contrasts. So you don’t need – and you shouldn’t – create contrast by adding tens of colors. You’ll find this piece of advice in any brand identity style guide you will ever stumble upon. The coordinates above are the commandments of brand identity design.
The Psychology of Colors
When you create your brand identity from scratch, there are two essential aspects you are not allowed to overlook: your future target audience and the psychology of that audience. And once again, you will need to go back to square 1: what field is your company in?
Let’s imagine that your business sells toys. Your colors should resonate with children. You’ll use warm colors, of course, both in your logo and your website.
Let’s exercise our right to imagination one more time. For example, maybe your company sells clothes. Passive colors are great in this circumstance. The brand identity design, in this case, doesn’t necessarily need to trigger any emotion in your audience unless it is comprised of hippies and hipsters. They do resonate a lot with warm colors, don’t they?
Simplicity is usually a more fertile ground for uniqueness than complexity. If you ever find a brand identity guide that advises you to complicate things, that’s not much of a guide.
If you consult with a brand identity agency, simplicity will be the first thing they’ll mention in regards to the identity of your brand. They will not advocate for complexity, and I can bet my salary on that. Complex doesn’t mean unique, nor beautiful.
A lot of so-called “tips” on the Internet will confuse you and make you add so many colors in the identity of your brand out of fear that no-one will recognize it. And you can be sure that they won’t. “Not everything you find on the Internet is true,” as Abraham Lincoln once said…
Don’t Underestimate Your Instincts
That visceral feeling in your guts and your brain, generally known as “instinct” is a tenet of brand identity design. If you have strong reasons to believe that certain colors will set you apart, then, by all means, use them.
If you don’t like how that instinct turned out, you can always start again from scratch. You know your company better than anyone else, so you’re the only one that’s justified to make this decision.
Do Some Quick Research
Look at some of the companies that activate in the same field as yours. What color schemes are they using? Do they have a penchant for aggressive colors or passive ones?
This will help you step up your game and come with something that’s in the same fashion, but concomitantly so very unique.
Choosing the colors for a logo is frequently seen as one of the most tedious chores in design. The reason for that is that there aren’t so many colors you can use in creating the identity of your brand.
Although the number of colors is indeed limited, playing with those coordinates we told you about in the beginning will multiply your choices. Blue, for instance, can acquire tens, if not hundreds, of different tones and values. Theoretically, that pure blue becomes other colors. Same thing applies to any other color in the spectrum.
Basically, you’ve got hundreds of alternatives, so it shouldn’t be that hard to make a final decision.