If you’re in the hectic, early days of building a new company, you might feel that deciding on colors for your new brand is not very high on your neverending to-do list. But picking the right colors is one of the most critical decisions you will make in defining the identity and success of your brand.
Color Psychology is a framework that explains the incredible power colors have in influencing people’s emotions and experiences. We all make subconscious, snap judgments about brands, and that impression is based largely on color. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s just human nature. First impressions matter.
Understanding color psychology allows you to make design choices that reinforce your brand story, build authenticity, and create an identity that resonates with your audience.
Telling your Brand Story
What is a story? You probably recognize novels, movies, and news articles as stories. Whatever the format, the core of any story remains largely the same: overcoming adversity and achieving a goal.
Every brand is telling a story as well. Who are you? Who do you serve? How has your brand evolved and what does your company culture say about you? What challenges have you overcome? Don’t just include the highlights. Share the difficulties your brand is overcoming as well.
Telling a real story, warts and all, is how your brand will resonate. Don’t think you need to gloss over the challenges, the upsets, and the setbacks in an effort to portray your brand as infallible. In fact, sharing these challenges makes your story more compelling, and your brand more authentic.
How you share that story goes beyond words, though. That story is embedded in your logo, and your brand colors especially. The colors you choose to represent your brand have an enormous influence on how customers perceive you. Your colors will likely be the first experience customers have with your brand, so it is important to spend the time getting them right.
It’s human nature to quickly make assessments, combing through a lifetime of experiences and preferences to make snap judgments. If you put in the work to define your brand story, you can use color psychology to make sure your branding reflects your values and identity to tell the right story to your customers.
Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. When creating a logo, graphic, or any type of visual that will be used to represent your brand and communicate your message, selecting the right colors is a crucial step.
Your colors are one of the most impactful impressions your brand will leave on customers. It’s your first chance to show that you understand your audience and what appeals to them. Understanding color within the context of your target market can make or break the impression of your brand, and your ability to stand out from the crowd.
After determining your brand colors, it is important to stay consistent. Use your colors across all of your brand visuals, not just your logo. Consistency builds authenticity and cohesiveness, which makes your brand, and your story, memorable. And a memorable brand makes for passionate, loyal customers.
The Psychology of Color
As children, we’ve grown up associating colors with experiences, feelings, smells and emotions. As adults, we’ve developed a broader sense of color and what color represents. Depending on the shade, colors can have positive or negative connotations and you want to be careful of the messages you are sending when selecting which colors to use for your brand. They should be consistent with the feeling and emotions your brand story is trying to convey.
Let’s look into the meaning of individual colors:
As one of the most visible colors, there comes a lot of power with red. It is attention grabbing and can work as a positive color when used correctly.
The color of the sun. Can combine the energy of red with cheerfulness of yellow.
The color of the sun, bananas, and the smiling emoji. 🙂
The color of trees and nature.
The color of the sky and water. A color that represents a wide range of emotions.
This color is strongly associated with royalty.
How do I choose brand colors?
Creating a brand story is more than just sharing a highlight reel or creating a catchy tagline. Your brand story should inform all of the design choices you make; especially when choosing your brand colors.
When we are choosing color, we want to ensure we are choosing the right color for your audience. Think about the need you are trying to fill for your customers. How do you want them to feel by meeting that need through your brand? Comforted? Joyful? Restored? Powerful? Researching your audience and identifying what emotions and experiences appeal to them will guide you in choosing memorable and effective colors for your brand.
Remember: it’s what your audience likes, not what you like, that is important. Just because you really love your orange and red branding doesn’t mean it will resonate with your audience, and accurately tell your brand story. It’s important to undertake some formal market testing to see what your potential audience thinks. Don’t rely only on the thoughts of you, your team, and your friends.
It can also be helpful to study the colors of brands that inspire you. For bigger brands, you can often find case studies that break down and analyze their design choices. What color palettes are they using? What is the relationship between their colors and their brand identity? How does it make you feel? Pay close attention, and apply those lessons when choosing your own brand colors.
You can’t write a great story without using the right colors to illustrate it. Apply the lessons of color psychology and create a truly memorable identity for your brand.