How to Choose Brand Colors

From the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, we make all kinds of decisions. And whether we realize it or not, many of those decisions are affected by color choices. Usually, it happens by instinct. But behind that instinct, there’s an entire science called color theory. It describes the relationship between different colors and their look when they are combined into color schemes. There’s an off-shoot of color theory called color psychology. Color psychology explains the relationship between colors and emotions. For anyone dealing with colors, having knowledge of these two areas is very important. No matter whether you own a small business and are creating a flyer for an upcoming event, or are an entrepreneur trying to come up with a logo for your start-up, this knowledge will help you choose the correct colors for your brand needs.

In this article, we’ll be covering the meaning of colors and how branding can be affected by them.


Color Meaning and How It Affects Branding

The main focus of color psychology is to explain color symbolism and how human emotions are impacted by different colors and their combinations. The principles of color psychology can be applied to many pursuits such as creating effective branding or choosing the right colors to paint your house. Each color induces a particular emotional response from viewers and it shapes the overall design in his or her mind. For product development, marketing and branding, this positive brand perception can play a vital role because it can influence consumers to make a purchase and ultimately increase sales.

Now, let’s learn how each color is usually perceived and how to choose the right one for your design.


Warm Colors

Colors such as yellows, reds, and oranges are known as warm colors. They can stimulate the senses and make you cheerful with their vibrancy. These colors have tons of emotional meaning. However, you should be careful when using them in a composition as they can easily become overwhelming when used as the primary color. To use warm colors in branding elements, you can either apply them moderately by sprinkling them as an accent color or pair them with cooler tones for a harmonic balance.


The Meaning of Red

Red has a striking and vivid personality. This enables it to bring out intense emotional responses in its viewers. Brands that make products for outdoor activities often use red to give their products a thrilling and adventurous look.

Red is a powerful color. So, it should be used in small quantities, especially if paired with other vibrant colors. Otherwise, the branding element can look too intense and can stir up feelings of anxiousness. The best way of using a fully saturated red is to use it in accents. If used as a dominant color, soften it with tints or shades. Tints are lighter versions of a color created by mixing in white. Shades are darker versions of the color made by mixing in black. So, for example, pink is a tint of red while maroon is a shade of it.


The Meaning of Orange

Orange merges the cheerfulness of yellow and the boldness of red. Through its vibrancy, it indicates confidence, casualness, and a fresh start. However, you should be cautious when choosing colors to pair with orange. For example, if you pair orange with black, it can resemble Halloween. To complement it, you can use blue tones or stick with warm analogous colors by incorporating yellows or reds. Analogous colors are groups of three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel.

Although orange tones usually indicate positive aspects, for branding elements it should be used sparingly as well. Studies show that people tend to associate this color with cheap and inexpensive. To add a sense of elegance, you can also opt for its muted versions such as peach, terracotta, or apricot.


The Meaning of Yellow

Yellow, the color of sunshine, expresses cheerfulness, warmth, and calmness in its purest form. People notice yellow instantaneously because of its eye-catching hue. This is why yellow is used in reference to caution, road signs, and security vests. To take advantage of yellow’s noticeability, brands use this color in their stores, making it a popular color choice for retail stores.

In branding elements, yellow should be used as an accent color instead of as a dominant color because excessive use of yellow can be overwhelming to viewers and be seen as a cheap attention-grabbing tactic.

Yellow is a bit tricky to pair with other colors. You can try monochromatic or analogous hues for a successful color palette. A monochromatic color scheme is when you have tints and shades of the same hue.


Cool Colors

The colors of the opposite side of the spectrum are known as cool colors. Cooler colors evoke calmness and trustworthiness. Studies show that these colors are more popular the older we get. Among the cool hues, blues, greens, and purples are more versatile and can be used in branding as a dominant or accent color.

Use a cool hue as a complement color to add emphasis to your composition, or apply warmer colors as an accent to its cooler counterpart.


The Meaning of Green

Green is associated with lush forests and fruitful harvests, making it the color of growth, safety, and recurrence. It’s a common color to be used in branding and logos. Since it represents nature, it’s ideal for using in branding elements for sustainable and eco-friendly brands.

Green is soothing to our eyes. That’s why it can be used as both dominant and accent colors. Complementary schemes, such as muted reds and greens, contrast especially well when paired together in a composition.


The Meaning of Blue

From the cloudless sky to turquoise oceans, blue is known for spreading its positive vibes throughout nature. This well-liked hue symbolizes peacefulness, trustworthiness, and loyalty with its calming nature. However, because of its association with melancholy and being the symbol of depression, blue is sometimes considered gloomy.

Since blue is universally loved, many companies use it in their branding elements. But you can still stand out from the rest by utilizing unique color combinations.

Pairing blue with a warmer hue, such as orange or yellow, is a great starting point. Or, if opting for a muted composition, incorporate blue’s tones and shades with a warm accent color.


The Meaning of Purple

Though nowadays purple symbolizes peace and luxury, it was once the aura of royalty and exclusivity. As time changes so does appeal, but sometimes something still remains splendid — like purple. It is still alluring to represent high-end products or to impart a tranquil environment, such as a spa or yoga studio. Purple can be used solely to make a design regal or to make it more magical. For a bold contrast, pair purple with its complement, yellow.


Wrapping Up

Whether you’re choosing colors to use in a logo or your website, it’s important that you pick the right ones. Hopefully, this article helps you understand the meanings of different colors and how they relate to human emotions. And now that you know about colors, you can use them effectively. However, you should keep learning about them as trends are always evolving and there are always new ways to play with the color wheel.

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