How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Brand

By Holly Kosec on November 12, 2012

By Holly Kosec on November 12, 2012

One of the main components of a company’s brand are the colors. If your company is just starting out, or you’re looking to breathe some new life into your brand, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you’re deciding which direction to go.

It’s Not About You

Some people simply pick out the colors they or their team likes the best. If you pick colors haphazardly, you could be sending the wrong message. What you should be doing instead is deciding what colors best represent your industry, as well as your company’s personality. Let’s start with just narrowing down by industry.

An easy example is to take a look at the medical industry: hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, etc. What colors do you think of when you’re in a doctor’s office? Chances are it’s some form of muted blue or green. That’s because certain colors convey different emotions and feelings. Blues and greens tend to be calm, peaceful, and healing. An interesting exception can be seen in the NextCare logo as the red conveys the need for quick service. Here’s a list of some other colors and what they can convey:

  1. Black: Elegance, Formal, Mysterious, Power, Strength
  2. Blue: Calm, Peace, Relaxation, Reliability, Sincerity
  3. Brown: Comfort, Genuine, Dependable, Earth, Simplicity
  4. Green: Beauty, Endurance, Growth, Safety, Stability
  5. Navy: Corporate, Expertise, Masculine, Stability
  6. Orange: Creativity, Enthusiasm, Friendly, Health, Joy
  7. Purple: Creativity, Dignity, Imagination, Power, Romance, Wealth
  8. Red: Danger, Energy, Love, Passion, Power
  9. White: Clean, Elegant, Good, Pure, Simplicity
  10. Yellow: Cheerful, Energy, Hope, Intelligence, Positivity

Check Out The Competition

That’s right, see what your competitors’ branding looks like. You can discover what they are communicating with their colors. You can also ensure that you aren’t branding yourself too closely to your competitors. While you want to look like you’re from the same world, your brand should uniquely convey your company’s personality.

Define Your Company’s Personality

So how can we take these colors and basic feelings and apply them to our company? Take a look at your company’s personality. If you’re a small, fun-loving company that likes to have a good time while getting work done (who could that be?), your colors should express that. If you’re a law firm, your colors will probably be more muted and express the reliability and expertise of your company. Find out who your company is and what kind of message you want to send to your customers or clients.

Choose A Color Scheme

Once you’ve decided what direction you want to go with your company’s colors, it’s time to turn it into a color scheme. Lets say that you have a homemade skin care company, and that you’ve chosen to go with green. One of my favorite tools to use is a website called Color Scheme Designer. On here, you can quickly pick out color schemes using an interactive color wheel. I’ve picked out a green color that I like, and now it’s time to find some accent colors. There are several different routes you can go:

Monochromatic is simply several different shades of the same color. Throwing in a neutral color like black, gray, or white to a monochromatic color scheme is a great way to add sophistication and class.

Complementary schemes use two colors that are on the opposite end of the color wheel. Because the colors are exact opposites, the contrast between the two can be very effective in creating an energetic feeling. You can also tone it down for a more muted layout by reducing the saturation or brightness of the colors. The addition of the purple color to the mix adds a more feminine touch.

Triad schemes (also known as split complementary schemes) take the two colors on either side of the main color’s complementary color. Above, you can see that instead of using the purple from the complementary scheme, it instead uses the neighboring colors of blue and yellow.

Analogic schemes use the main color’s neighboring colors, and is great for adding more subtle contrast to your designs.

Now that you know some of the basic rules of deciding your company’s colors, it’s time to continue on with your branding process, whether that is with a logo, print work, or a website.

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  1. Avatar Nick Stamoulis on November 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Make sure you keep your color scheme consistent across your social media platforms, email newsletters, and blog. Twitter, Facebook, and other sites have made profiles more customizable. You want to make sure all of your points of communication reflect a similar brand image.

    • Holly Titus Holly Titus on November 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      You’re exactly right, Nick! Keeping all of your branding consistent across all platforms makes a world of difference in making your company look professional and trustworthy. Great point!

  2. Avatar Linaka on November 16, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Whilst brand colours make the difference, when you find yourself in a situation where your brand colours are very similar to other brands I find the best way to help affirm is typography and personality. Typography makes a huge difference.

    • Holly Titus Holly Titus on November 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Excellent point, Linaka. Strong typography can help make or break design, and it’s a great way to set yourself apart from the pack. Thanks for the input!

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