What Brand Colors to Choose: Exploring the Variety

7 Minutes time to read
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When it comes to choosing colors for their brands, many companies and businesses are mainly guided by their own tastes and preferences. Unfortunately, they do not understand that by doing that, they are making a terrible mistake.

Research shows that color in marketing catches most of the attention, therefore the decision on brand colors should be based on a certain strategy rather than taste.

The most crucial goal of marketing is to form the correct image of a company, product, or service. It is necessary to convey the main brand message to the end consumer.

The right brand color is able to complement the product with the desired characteristics, thus making it more attractive in the eyes of the consumers.

An accurate and thoughtful selection of colors can help to form a fascinating as well as a memorable brand. And in this article, we’ll reveal such a phenomenon as brand colors, their aspects, and how to use them to the greatest extent possible.

What are brand colors

Brand color is one of the most important elements of corporate identity. Together with the motto and logo, it serves as a product identifier in the mind of consumers. Bright and recognizable colors allow companies to stand out from a great variety of competitors and attract the attention of the target audience in a more effective way. Experts in the field of psychology have long proved that people perceive and remember visual images much better than any other lexical meaning embedded in a brand name.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that in order to strengthen company branding and identity, brand colors should be applied not only to the logo, but also to the website, storefront, and in-store design, as well as to staff uniforms and advertisements, thus making the whole branding solid and consistent.

What makes brand colors so important

How can companies win the hearts of buyers in the world of progress and a huge number of businesses that produce and offer the same products? How to stand out from the crowd of competitors and stay in the minds of consumers even after the purchase? The answer is brand colors.

Impact of Color on Marketing study found that about ninety percent of brand judgments are based on color alone. Diverse color hues and their combinations can change the psychological and physiological state of a person and cause certain feelings and emotions through various associations that come with them. 

Consequently, we can state that branding colors can form a particular attitude of the consumer towards the product through the emotions that this color provokes. Therefore, a correctly chosen color is the key to the most positive customer experience of the product and motivation to purchase it.

The matter of interrelationship between colors and emotions is studied by color psychology. Let’s explore this notion in more detail.

What is color psychology

The psychology of color examines the influence of different color hues on the perception, behavior, and mood of people. Some colors can make us worry, irritate or motivate us to take action, while some of them allow us to relax and calm down.

In marketing and branding, it helps to determine how colors affect consumer brand experience and whether they convince them to prioritize certain brands or products or not.

This area of study should be considered both when starting a new business and rebranding an existing one.

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How to make practical decisions about color

When developing a brand, color is central to all other factors. Each color that we see directly or indirectly implies something. Therefore, it assists in influencing the perception of this or that brand. Some colors go beyond reflecting particular brands since they represent entire industries, for instance, blue for traveling, green for healthy nutrition, and red for fast food.

At the same time, there are no clear rules for choosing a color scheme when developing a corporate identity. Some companies apply the color hues familiar to their industry, while others, on the contrary, prefer to go against traditions since they believe that it better helps to grab attention.

As long as there are at least two options for picking color brands, which are namely, to follow traditions or to go your own way, the decision on colors should be made according to your goals and needs as well as regarding the sphere the company operates in.

However, to help you in choosing brand colors we should start with determining the brand identity.

How to determine your brand identity

Brand identity is a set of characteristic features of a brand – things that make it visually recognizable.

Corporate and brand identity are not the same thing. Brand identity is a part of the corporate one and is primarily aimed at visual brand recognition. The corporate identity, in its turn, has a broader scope, therefore, besides brand identity, it also includes other components, such as name, motto, brand book (guidelines for utilizing corporate identity elements), etc.

Definition of a brand identity is the first step towards creating a corporate identity and it requires some research. The research should be based on answering (by company owners) the following questions:

– What’s the history behind your brand?

– Why have you decided to run this company?

– What do you offer your customers?

– Who are your ideal clients?

– What do you want customers to feel while interacting with your company?

The answers to these questions will give a company a foundation for understanding how it can apply colors to communicate its message to customers since colors are connected with emotions, memories, and associations.

Furthermore, companies can make a list of adjectives that perfectly describe and characterize their business and brand to evoke the emotions they need.

The color and even the hue of the website are extremely important. It is not just a tool for making the website visually appealing or pleasant but it makes your brand stand out from the rest, contributes to the formation of trust and a positive attitude among customers. Let’s talk about how the application of suitable colors can benefit the company brand.

How a color benefits the brand

  • Differentiation

It’s crucial to pick color combinations that will make the brand easy to remember and memorable. A number of studies show that out of several similar companies, customers will choose the one whose logo is instantly recognizable. Furthermore, when creating a new brand it’s better to choose colors (or color combinations) that are different from those that are already utilized by competitors.

  • Emotional response

Color is a powerful psychological tool. Therefore, by applying certain colors, companies receive a customer response either positive (I want to buy these shoes) or negative (This website looks aggressive, I’d rather leave it). But we are not interested in a negative one, right? In this regard, companies should use only that color palette that will grab and retain customer attention.

  • Comprehension and engagement

Colors, as well as visuals, allow companies either to convey any message nonverbally or highlight the most important elements on the page, thus making the customers easily understand what the company offers/shows/is proud of. That’s another point why the significance of brand colors should not be neglected.

The right brand colors can make your company successful and prosperous, however, to achieve it, you need to conduct a thorough analysis and follow a certain strategy.

We’re aware that colors can influence customers, and each color has its own list of associations that companies can use in building their brand identities as well as in marketing and branding campaigns. So, here we are going to look through the ten most popular colors together with their associations and industries where they are often applied to help you in determining which one (or more colors) to choose.

Top 10 brand colors

01 Red

Red is associated with love, anger, power, passion, strength, fear, and excitement. The color is most suitable for the food (Coca-Cola) and entertainment (Netflix) industries. It should be carefully used in the field of security and real estate as long as it can scare off with its aggressiveness.

02 Blue

Blue stands for trust, loyalty, logic, space, coldness, and formality. It is considered to be one of the safest colors that doesn’t evoke any strong negative emotions. It can be used in any business field from the beauty sphere (Nivea) and technologies (Samsung) to the financial sector (PayPal) and social networks (Facebook).

03 Green

Green denotes peace, life, harmony, nature, health, growth, and stability. This color may be applied to convey any message desired, but most frequently it can be found in the beauty sphere (Garnier), ecology (Greenpeace), pharmaceutical (Actavis), and other industries that want to show their adherence to natural and organic principles.

04 Yellow

Yellow is associated with enjoyment, fun, happiness, warmth, and positivity. This color is used in the industries that deal with beverages (Lipton), fast food (McDonald’s), optical equipment (Nikon), and sweets (Chupa Chups). Moreover, due to the fact that yellow evokes inspiration, it can almost always be observed during various promotions or sales.

05 Orange

Orange stands for playfulness, optimism, openness, creativity, and communication. Most often this color can be observed in the corporate identity of companies that operate in activities related to children products (Gymboree) and entertainment (Nickelodeon), as well as food products (Fanta) since it’s believed that this color can increase appetite.

06 Purple

Purple denotes wisdom, power, dignity, fantasy, royalty, and spirituality. The color is utilized in IT industries (Yahoo!), food products (Milka), and real estate (Zoopla). This color should be used carefully since men and women perceive it differently. While women consider this color to be attractive, men associate it with anxiety and instability.

07 White

White evokes purity, health, simplicity, cleanliness, and peace. This color is great for minimalistic brands and is usually applied in combination with other colors. It doesn’t cause any unpleasant emotions or associations and is commonly used in spheres of fashion (Adidas), gadgets (Apple), and medicine (MediPath).

08 Black

Black is associated with sophistication, seriousness, control, and independence. As long as this color also emphasizes nobility and power, it is frequently used by premium luxurious brands, such as Chanel, Hugo Boss, and Ralph Lauren. Moreover, black goes well with any color and can serve as both an accent and a background.

09 Gray

Gray symbolizes reliability, security, modesty, balance, and maturity. It combines and balances white and black colors, therefore it’s truly neutral and doesn’t cause any strong emotions. Gray is often applied in car industries (Toyota), fashion (Calvin Klein), jewelry (Swarovski), and technologies (WordPress).

10 Brown

Brown stands for seriousness, comfort, support, earthiness, warmth, and sturdiness. This color is popular among companies whose activity is related to the production and sale of food products (M&M’s), construction (SK Builders), agriculture (Joyce Farms), and construction (O’Sullivan Property).

This list of brand colors along with emotions and associations they evoke will be of much help when it comes to choosing the website design. However, the list provided may be not enough to determine the colors you’d like to apply. That’s why we’d like to share a sort of guideline that will assist you in this complex task.

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Formula for building a brand color scheme

  • Color palette guidelines

A color palette of the website is a set of all colors and hues that will be used in the design and will build the association with the brand. It helps in the creation of a smarter and more coherent design, and also makes the whole work easier and faster.

  • Primary color

Primary colors are mostly applied in the company logo and on average, companies have around two or three primary colors. These colors should reflect the main concept of the website and attract potential customers.

  • Plan on choosing 3 colors

Here companies need to choose the base, accent, and neutral colors. Regardless of the number of colors included in the palette, various hues and shades should also be considered.

  • Choose your base

This color should reflect and communicate the major feature of the brand as well as attract the target audience. The rest of the colors should complement this one.

  • Select your accent

Determination of an accent is a bit more difficult than choosing a base color as long as it has more limitations. It should not only match the brand personality but also flatter the base.

  • Find your neutral

Neutral colors should not be catchy or distractive. Most frequently they are used for a background. That’s why any hues of pastel colors as well as white and black will be appropriate to be applied. 

  • Black and white

Black and white colors are used in the design more often than any other color. For example, we’re all used to observing black text on a white background. However, these colors should not be overused since too much black can cause a feeling of emptiness, darkness, or sadness. Too much white, in its turn, can provoke a sense of coldness and isolation. That’s why these colors should be used in balance to convey the message required.

You can pick any number of colors you want but don’t forget that the website should be not only appealing and attractive but also efficient. Hope that you’ll find this list of steps useful as well as applicable.

Once there are no questions about the primary color, we need to take a closer look at secondary colors that add some accent and complement it.

Choosing secondary colors

The choice of secondary colors depends on the color scheme. The color scheme is a set of rules for making color combinations that are expected to express the desired emotion or effect or to convey the company message. The scheme consists of colors (hues) and shows their correlation (how similar or different they are, their contrast, and compatibility). There are three basic color schemes:

  • Monochromatic scheme

The monochromatic color scheme rests on only one base color. Therefore, only variations (hues) of this color are applied here. The hues are delivered by changing the saturation and brightness of the base color. This scheme gives the impression of neatness and grace. However, when utilizing a monochromatic scheme, it may be difficult to highlight the most important elements since the scheme itself lacks color contrast.

  • Analogous scheme

The analogous color scheme uses two secondary colors that are similar to the base one. Accordingly, these colors can be found next to the base color on the color wheel. In this scheme, the base color is dominant (obviously) while secondary colors are applied to highlight or emphasize crucial elements. The colors are usually well compatible and create a calm eye-pleasing design.

  • Contrasting schemes

The contrasting color schemes are considered to be one of the most popular nowadays. They may be built through the application of opposite (contrasting), complementary (similar), or equally bright colors. These schemes are typically used to add some contrast to the design and stand out from the rest. Moreover, by utilizing bright colors, companies make their brand upbeat and friendly. 

The schemes described above are pretty different from each other in terms of the application of colors. However, the thing that unites them is that while determining and further working on the color scheme you should be accurate and careful since otherwise, the website may look messy and disorganized.

To help you in deciding how to use primary and secondary colors, let’s study the proportions they should be used in.

Color proportions

We know that the primary color (or colors) is the main one, consequently, it takes the biggest place in the design. Then there go secondary colors that should be of medium size, and after that, we apply a tertiary color. The tertiary color blends both primary and secondary colors (or two secondary colors as well).

Below, you can see the proportions that are advisable to apply to brand colors:

– if there are three colors, one primary color takes 1/2, while two secondary colors get 1/4 (50:25:25 ratio)

– if there are four colors, two primary colors take 1/3, while one secondary color has 1/6, and one tertiary color gets 1/12 (33:33:16:8 ratio)

Once the process of picking and applying colors is reviewed, we also want to point out another essential matter.

After the company made up its mind about the brand colors to be used on the website design, the next step required is testing. It may be conducted either within the team of the company or through the research among customers (via questionnaire or feedback). Anyway, it needs to be done since the compatibility and ability of chosen colors to complement each other is a truly crucial factor.

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Color codes

Colors may be reflected through both light (pixels) and ink (dyes). Therefore, to ensure that brand colors are represented correctly as well as consistently in all formats, companies should be aware of the color codes to be applied.

To communicate colors through the ink (when it comes to printing), the codes CMYK and Pantone are used. The difference between them is that CMYK is rather simple and widespread, while the application of Pantone is more expensive and complex. However,  Pantone allows achieving much more impressive results such as amazing reflection of special effects, neons, the metallic effect, and so on.

RGB and HEX codes, in their turn, are utilized in digital formats (e.g., websites) and communicate colors on screens of various gadgets. These two codes are pretty much the same in terms of their functionality and applicability.

It’s not obligatory to know these codes deeply, however, companies should keep in mind their differences and spheres of execution in order not to lose the effect the colors need to communicate to the audience.

As long as the theoretical and practical parts of this aspect are studied, it’s high time to look at the examples of marvelous brand colors that work.

Top 10 brand colors

01 McDonald’s

The bright red, cheerful orange and warm yellow colors of this fast-food giant are extremely attractive since they create a feeling of joy and happiness along with a positive and friendly atmosphere. Moreover, these colors (and their combination) are considered to be the most popular among children.

McDonalds_colors_Ester_Digital

02 Netflix

Netflix used a pretty standard combination of brand colors (white, red, and black) on their website. The application of red color on a black background brings us back to the world of cinema. Moreover, the choice of such powerful colors makes it impossible to forget the brand style itself.

Netflix_colors_Ester_Digital

03 Starbucks

Green color with its hues are most commonly associated with growth and peace and this concept perfectly echoes Starbucks’ mission which is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit”. Furthermore, the combination of green and yellow colors may cause associations with the sun and earth, thus, making the website look natural and organic.

Starbucks_colors_Ester_Digital

04 Coca-Cola

The combination of red and white colors immediately evokes the association with Coca-Cola. It may seem that there are only two brand colors applied (white and red), however, the red color we see on their logo and products is the result of the mixture of three different red hues.

CocaCola_colors_Ester_Digital

05 Pepsi

Just like its main competitor (starts with C, wink wink), some time ago Pepsi had the same brand colors – white and red. The times have changed and now the primary colors of Pepsi are red, white, and blue. These colors help to perceive the company image as something that pushes for action (red) and simultaneously gives customers feelings of peace (blue) and freedom (white).

Pepsi_colors_Ester_Digital

06 Ikea

Ikea is one of the most world-known furniture companies in the world. The choice of colors was based on the country of origin (Sweden) and its flag colors (yellow and blue). The combination of a cheerful yellow with calm blue evokes associations with comfort and safety.

Ikea_colors_Ester_Digital

07 Hershey

The primary color of Hershey is brown which immediately calls to mind an image of chocolate. This is a great example of applying the color that reflects the main activity of the company (since the chocolate itself is brown). Moreover, the brown color tends to be associated with stability and authenticity.

Hershey_colors_Ester_Digital

08 SubWay

Unlike its fast-food colleagues, Subway applied green and yellow brand colors. It’s done not only to differentiate themselves from the rest but also to emphasize (with the help of green color) the freshness and naturalness of the products they use in preparing food. 

What Brand Colors to Choose: Exploring the Variety 1

09 Mastercard

The primary colors that are used in this brand are red and orange. Here the red color stands for bravery, passion, and joy while the orange one denotes prosperity. Together these colors communicate the company message. Mastercard believes that these personality traits are typical for people who want to become successful financially (don’t we all?).

Mastercard_colors_Ester_Digital

10 Chanel

There is a reason why black and white are the primary colors of Chanel. The black color stopped being perceived as a color of sorrow and grief thanks to Gabrielle Chanel when she created a little black dress thus showing the elegance of this color. Nowadays black color is used by many luxurious brands to outline the high class and prestige of their products. The white color, in its turn, complements the black one.

Chanel_colors_Ester_Digital

The examples of famous companies along with the brand colors applied are intended to show how various color combinations in diverse industries can make the business profitable, unforgettable, and beneficial. We hope that they will serve as an inspiration as well as a motivation for you.

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On a final note

In this article, we shared with you our knowledge on the brand colors, what makes them so essential, and what steps need to be taken to make the website fascinating, unforgettable, and prosperous.

The process of choosing brand colours is not that easy and requires substantial expertise to make the company stand out. Moreover, you need to consider many factors in order not to make a huge marketing mistake (by applying the wrong colors for branding).

Luckily, our company is a recognized expert in this field. That’s why in case of any doubts or questions on this issue, just contact us. We will be glad to give you a helping hand.

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