5 Tricks for Nailing the Colour Choices for Your Brand by Your Content Empire

One of the questions I hear all the time about branding is “How do I know if a colour is right for my brand?” With nearly 10 million colours visible to the human eye, it’s only normal to feel overwhelmed by the choices before you. Luckily, there are five easy steps you can take to make these choices 10 million times simpler.

So what are the right colour choices for your brand?

On one hand, there’s no wrong answer to this question. I know that this can make these branding decisions even more overwhelming, but it’s kind of true… in a sense. It’s more important that all of your visual choices play nicely together. But beyond that, as long as your visual identity doesn’t turn off your ideal customers, it’s just a matter of carrying your brand through all of your outgoing pieces of communication in a consistent, attractive and professional way.

On the other hand, there is a wrong answer. And that would be to simply choose colours based on what appeals to you. Unless you are your ideal customer, you should be putting more thought into what your customer likes rather than what you personally prefer. After all, the bottom-line purpose of any business is to make money by making sales. The hard and fast truth (and something I struggled with as a designer for a very long time) is that if it was only about listening to my own colour preferences, then I should really just stick to art.

This is why before making these decisions, it’s a great idea to really get to know your ideal customer, who they are, what they respond to and what they’re really looking for from your offerings. 

Below is your five-step action plan to choosing amazing colours for your brand.

Your colour-choosing action plan

1. Spend a bit of time exploring colour theory and the connection to your brands personality.

After you’ve taken some time to understand who your target customer is and what they are most looking for, do a bit of research in colour theory. Colour theory is a psychology-based approach that connects colours to the feelings or impressions that they invoke. Find out what colours most align with what your target customer will respond to. But don’t put all of your stock into colour psychology when making your decisions; after all, there’s a lot of power in successfully presenting something unexpected.

2. If you had to choose a place or vacation destination that matched the ‘vibe’ of your brand, where would that be and what does that mean for what your colours should represent?

This is a simple way to start visualizing the feelings you want your brand to evoke.

Is your brand like the beach? Think easy and clean. Blues and tans. Or, is your brand like New York? Think dark, glamorous and a little rock and roll. Blacks (varying textures), purples. Perhaps,  your brand place is somewhere outdoorsy and close to nature? Think browns, greens.

It’s pretty easy to think of a place you love and what feelings and associative colours match that place. This inspiration point is just a place to start rounding out the palette for your brand.

3. The rule of 5: Think 2-3 “Fun” Colours + 2 Neutrals

That’s all you need. Most brands include 1 background colour (usual a neutral, you cannot go wrong with white), 1-2 font colours (headings and body, choose something that’s easy to read), 1-2 pop and accent colours (this is where the personality comes through your colours for your brand).

Anymore than this (in most cases) and the impact of your colours becomes diluted and less effective in making a lasting impression in your audiences’ minds.

4. Try to stick within colour types for your “Fun” colours

As I mentioned above, you can’t really go wrong with your colour choices as long as you make sure (1) they appeal to your target customer (ie target customer is a male, 20-30 – I wouldn’t go with purples and soft blues) and (2) they look appealing together.

One way to make sure that your colours go together is by making sure they are the same types of colour.

Some categories of colours to consider:

  • Cool colours
  • Warm colours
  • Jewel tones
  • Neons
  • Pastels

For example, it probably wouldn’t look very good to pair a pastel with a neon.

5. Look to an image you love for colour inspiration.

Often, I’ll use pictures from nature for inspiration. Mother Nature is the best designer and never makes mistakes. Once you have an image you love, use an app like Picmonkey (amazing guide from the Mother Huddle here on doing this) to identify the colour codes in the image.

Looky, Looky – Amazing colour resources ahead!

There you have it, five simple tips for choosing some amazing colours!

There you have it, five simple tips for choosing some amazing colours!

Colour Theory Resources:

True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business from the Marketo Blog

The Meaning of Colour in Marketing from Visual.ly

The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding from Entrepreneur

Why Facebook is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing from Buffer Social

The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding from the Help Scout Blog

A basic colour + feeling breakdown by one of my favourite stationary designers, Whitney English:

Resources for choosing compatible colours:

Here’s a tool to make choosing colours that go together much easier from Colors on the Web

For palette inspiration:

Colour Lovers 

Design Seeds 

Vandelay Design

For colour matching:

Adobe Kuler App

Operation Implementation

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Take action on this post with these 3 steps or save it for later (will be on your dashboard).

1Research colour theory to find the "vibe" of your brand
2Try looking to an image for inspiration and pull out the colours
3Choose 2-3 'Fun' Colours + 2 Neutrals

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