How to Choose Your Brand Colors

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How to Choose Brand Colors

Knowing how to choose your brand colors is important for ensuring you choose a perfect color palette. Your colors should fit the personality of your brand, stand out among competitors, and be easily recognizable to consumers.

While it’s possible to simply choose your favorite colors, make them your brand colors, and call it a day,  it’s worthwhile to put some time, thought, and effort into choosing a color scheme for your business.

Why Your Brand Colors Matter

The colors you choose for your brand will play an important part in several aspects of the marketing of your business, from logo and website design to social media assets and even product packaging.

It’s important that the colors you choose accurately reflect your brand’s voice and personality. Those colors are what people will associate with your brand’s name and aesthetic.

Being intentional with your color choices will allow you to ensure the colors are aligned with the type of presence you want your brand to have. The colors should also help your brand to visually stand out in the best way possible.

How to Choose Your Brand Colors

Below, we’ve outlined all the steps you need to take to select the perfect colors for your brand. Bookmark this page so you can return to it as you complete each step. Now let’s begin!

1. Research Your Competitors’ Brand Colors

The first step to picking the perfect brand colors is to research the colors of your competitors. Do a simple search online of local or national brands in your industry.

Take notes on which colors are commonly used and which color combinations stand out to you. Consider how you can choose colors that differentiate your brand from the rest while aligning your business with your industry. This will help you find the perfect balance of uniqueness and cohesiveness when choosing a memorable color palette.

2. Find Inspiration

The next step is to gather inspiration! Color inspiration can come from your research on your competitors’ brand colors. Inspiration can also come from logos, graphics, and other visual assets. 

It may help to create a mood board of all the images that inspire you. After gathering your inspiration, notice if there are common themes in what you’re drawn to. Is it a certain shade of blue? A certain type of color palette?

Write down the specific things you like from your mood board to give you a sense of direction you should go when choosing your brand colors.

3. Consider the Psychology of Colors

Choosing colors with a purpose means considering the meanings associated with each color. Color psychology can be a powerful tool in carrying out how you want people to feel when they look at a visual asset of your brand.

For example, a day spa’s palette might consist of cool colors, like blue or green, to invoke a feeling of calm and peace. A gym might use warm colors, like red or orange, to initiate feelings of movement, strength, and energy.

The power of color can go a long way in establishing a strong emotional association between your brand and your audience.

It’s important to note that different colors have different meanings in different cultures, so remember to consider the culture of your target audience when considering the meaning of your brand’s colors.

Here’s a summary of feelings and emotions often associated with specific colors. For more details, please read our article on the psychology of color.

  • Red – love, energy, excitement, strength, danger, warning
  • Orange – energy, happiness, creativity, confidence, success
  • Yellow – creativity, happiness, warmth, aggression, anger
  • Green – natural, fresh, calm, envy
  • Blue – trust, loyalty, stability, calmness, sadness 
  • Purple – royalty, luxury, spirituality, mystery, inspiration
  • Brown – dependability, ruggedness, warmth, sadness, loneliness
  • Black – drama, luxury, authority, formality, death, evil
Designers Choosing Brand Colors

4. Decide Which Colors Match Your Brand’s Identity

Your brand’s identity is how your business presents itself to consumers, so it only makes sense that your brand colors match your brand identity. As you market your business over time, people will learn to recognize your brand based on your brand’s colors. 

To apply this in real life, take a moment to think of a popular brand you know and think about the colors and symbols you associate with that brand.

Next, consider the feelings the brand is trying to appeal to in their target audience through the colors and symbols they chose.

Are those the same feelings you have when you think of the brand as well?

By making sure the colors you choose match the identity of your brand, you’ll be able to establish a visually consistent image and a strong brand.

5. Choose Your Primary Color

The primary color of your brand, or the base color, is the dominant color that will be used throughout your business’ visual assets.

This step is where you’ll want to apply what you know about color meanings and the colors that are in line with the standards of your industry.

6. Choose Your Secondary Colors

The secondary colors, or accent colors, will be used to supplement the base color of your brand.

When choosing a secondary color, it’s important to make sure it pairs well visually with the primary color you chose. (Using a color wheel will be helpful for this.)

7. Choose Neutral Colors

The neutral color acts as a sort of background color. It should be a more muted hue that doesn’t bring a lot of attention to it and blends well with the secondary and primary colors you chose.

Some good neutral colors include off-whites, grays, tans, or black. If you’re going for a monochromatic color scheme, consider muted shades of your brand’s secondary or primary colors.

8. Use a Color Palette Generator (If Needed)

With such a wide range of color options to choose from, sometimes it can be helpful to use a color palette generator instead of starting from scratch.

Color palette generators like Coolors, Paletton, and the HubSpot Color Palette Generator are useful for getting a jumpstart in choosing your perfect color scheme!

Another option is to browse pre-designed color palettes for inspiration.

9. Test Your Brand Colors

After you’ve done your research and chosen your colors, it’s time to put the colors you chose to the test in real life!

By testing your brand colors, you can determine if they accurately convey your brand’s values to consumers and allow for efficient usability on your brand’s website or app.

A color test should involve real consumers so you can receive real feedback that accurately reflects how your brand colors are perceived in the real world.

There are several ways to test your brand color, including:

  • Color Perception – This test is a good way to evaluate first impressions of your brand. Simply show test participants a visual asset, like a logo, a web page, or a social graphic, for five seconds. Then, conduct a survey to collect feedback on their impressions. Additionally, you can have participants compare two different assets and have them describe which designs they like more and why.
  • Sufficient Contrast – This test will help determine if your chosen colors are visually readable when used on your brand’s website, marketing materials, and other designs. This test can be done with the help of an online color contrast tool. If your colors are easily readable, even for those with color vision deficiencies, then your brand will be able to reach a broader audience. More importantly, aspects of your brand, like your website, will be easily accessible and offer an inclusive user experience.
  • Usability – This is a good test for using your colors on your brand’s website or app. Colors can change the usability of links, buttons, and other elements of a website, so it’s essential to evaluate how the colors you chose affect users’ behavior and task success when they use your brand’s website. 

FAQ About Brand Colors

What are brand colors?

Brand colors are a palette that is used to represent your business. By strategically choosing which colors to be your brand colors and consistently applying them to the visual assets of your business, brand colors raise awareness and recognition for your business.

How many colors should a brand use?

Most businesses have anywhere between 1 and 5 brand colors. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer colors you have, the more impactful your brand colors will be. However many colors you decide on, it’s important to have one primary color along with a secondary color and a neutral color to balance each other out.

How do you choose secondary colors for a brand?

Secondary colors should look visually appealing when placed beside your primary color, but they should not distract from your primary color. Using a color wheel to determine which colors pair best with your primary color will help when choosing secondary colors.

Should my brand colors be the same or different than competitors?

The brand colors you choose should stand out from competitors enough that your brand is recognizable, but they should still be aligned with colors generally associated with your industry.

For example, many health and wellness brands use blue or green as their primary brand color. However, some choose a secondary color that may be slightly different from their competitors because it fits into their brand’s personality and the psychology of what they want consumers to feel when they interact with their brand.

Final Thoughts on Choosing Brand Colors

While these are all guidelines for how to choose your brand colors, it’s important to remember that you can still bend the rules if it means creating a color palette that’s true to your brand.

Ultimately, you want to choose colors that accurately reflect the personality and message of your business, so trust your instincts and go for colors that feel right as you go through these steps of choosing your brand colors.

As long as you keep in mind your competitors, audience, the psychology of color, and your brand’s personality, you’ll end up with a palette that’s perfect for your business!

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