A company’s colour scheme is one of, if not the, most vital aspects of their branding. This is because colours, whether it’s through biological instinct or societal constructions, are associated with various meanings, and produce instant emotional responses in people. As such, when a person looks at a company’s branding, they will instantly develop an impression about the company before even knowing what they do. Therefore, as the success of any business depends on creating a lasting and emotional connection with its audience, it is instrumental that the colour scheme invokes the right reaction from consumers.
Since so much relies on this, it means that whether you are just starting your business, or have just made the decision to rebrand, choosing the right colours can be a difficult and overwhelming process. However, in this blog post, we lay out the key steps someone should take to successfully and easily pick the right colour scheme.
Before even starting to look at colours, the first thing any business should do is reflect on themselves. Identify the personality of your brand, what your branding goals are, and who your target market is. If you want to be perceived as serious and responsible, chances are you should not pick yellow as your primary colour. If you are marketing mostly to men, choosing pink as part of your colours scheme is likely not a wise choice. By solidifying the essence of your brand, you will be able to have an easier time picking the right colours, while avoiding the wrong ones.
It is always a good idea to research what similar companies to your own are doing with their colour schemes to see if you can notice a pattern that you should adopt. You should also look up colour palettes other people have made to get an idea of what colours look good together, and if those palettes will work with your branding vision. Overall, researching what others are doing can provide insight and ideas into what you should do for your own business.
It is extremely important to thoroughly understand what meanings are associate with which colours, and what emotional responses they trigger in people. You want to make sure that when people see your branding for the first time that their first impression does not go against the company values, thereby confusing them.
Similarly, colours carry different meaning in different cultures. For instance, in the West, white is viewed as elegant, pure, peaceful and positive. However, in Eastern cultures, like China, white is often associated with death, and is common at funerals. As such, if you want to market wedding services to East Asian people, choosing white as your main colour might send the wrong message. Overall, ensure you have a good grasp on how your audience perceives colours.
Once you have fully defined the essence of your brand, and done your research, you can start selecting your company colours. It is wise that you limit yourself to 3-5 colours to create a sense of consistency and order. Too many colours could overwhelm viewers, make them confused as to what your brand identity is, and create the impression that the brand does not have a clear direction.
The general rule as to what type of colours you should include is:
As you probably already know, certain colours look good with some colours, and horrible with others. There is a science to selecting colours that look good together, and this is called colour theory, which uses the colour wheel as its basis. Colours that look good together are called colour harmonies, and a colour harmony is usually determined by using colour combination guidelines. There are 6 colour combinations:
2 colours that are opposite one another on the color wheel. This combination is good for picking colours that highly contrast each other to make assets stand out.
Similar to complementary, the use of colours opposite one another on the colour wheel. However, unlike complementary, this variation has one base colour, and two similar colours opposite that base colour. As it utilises contrast and similar colours at the same time, this is a good combination to create an impact, while not being overwhelming.
3 colors that are directly next to each other on the color wheel. This combination produces colours that work well together, but it may be too much depending on what they are being used for. If going with this palette, use 1 as a base colour, and the other 2 as accent colours.
3 colours that are spaced evenly on the color wheel. This provides a high contrast and bold color combination, but it is not as intense as the complementary color harmony, making it more useful. It is good for creating a high impact look, without creating tension.
4 colours that are spaced evenly on the color wheel. Like triadic, they create a high contrast, bold colour combination that is versatile, but because it involves 4 distinct colours, it makes it hard to use them all equally without overwhelming the design. It is best to use 1 as the base, and the other 3 as accent colours.
3 shades of 1 singular base color. It is a good combination to create a subtle safe look, and can be applied in many situations, making it a versatile choice.
Source: The Spruce
Once you have picked your colours, it is important to test them before finalising them. Put them on a couple different products, such as a logo or poster, to see what they look like in action. Ask others what they think and feel when they see your colour scheme for the first time. As previously emphasized, it is crucial to get the colour scheme right, so keeping testing and playing around until you achieve your desired result.
While selecting a brand colour is best done by someone with design experience, there are many free online tools that can help pick colours that complement each other. Here is a short list of some of those tools to help you select the right colours for your company.
Picking the right colours is not always an easy process. There are numerous factors to consider, and there is often a lot of pressure placed on making these choices, as the success or failure of a company relies on its branding. However, with this guide, you will now have a better idea of how to navigate this process and come to the right decisions. Hopefully, whether you are picking your colours now or in the future, that task will be a little less daunting.
November 10th, 2021
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