There is often a misconception that branding is JUST about logo design, when in reality it is SO much more than that. Strategic branding dives deeper and will help you to share who you are, what you do, and why you do it. To help break down the deets and unravel that mystery, we decided to write the Brand Building Blocks series. Each post will hone in on one particular aspect of a brand, from the basics of strategy to the different creative pieces.
What tone do you want your brand to convey? Do your colors make your brand better?
While your logo usually gets the most love when it comes to discussing your brand visuals, your color palette is actually the most forefront part of your brand visuals. Your colors are infused into everything your brand is putting out into the world, from your website to your business cards. Remember, whether or not your audience sees your logo right away, your color palette will always be in place.
Just because your colors are at the forefront doesn't mean they just have to be your icing. Your brand's color palette should do much more than just look pretty. And it DEFINITELY shouldn't just be about choosing colors you like. The color palette you choose for your brand NEEDS to support your brand's story.
So, what can you do to choose colors that put your brand's best foot forward?
Set the mood.
The most important thing to ask yourself when evaluating your color palette is "what tone do I want to set for my brand?" Is your brand sexy and bold? Playful and feminine? Before you can even begin to build your brand visuals, you need to be clear on this.
How do your brand colors set the mood? Well, there's actually a lot of psychology behind the way we humans interact with color. Certain colors provoke particular emotions and even cause us to recall certain imagery when we see it. Kristin and I were actually so intrigued by color theory in college that we put together an entire book breaking down the the psychology of colors in branding. While we aren't going to make you read our entire book (god knows we could talk about it all day long), we're happy to share the "cliff notes" on the emotions
While we aren't going to dive deeper into this for this series, we want to note that the psychology goes beyond just the color itself. There are different tones set by hues, saturation, lightness and beyond that, the way you pair colors together! But, understanding the basics is a good start to gauging whether your color palette is sending the right message.
After considering what tone your brand is trying to convey, you should take some time to analyze the marketplace. Look at the other players in your field (read more about them here) and see what colors they're using. Does everyone have the same color palette? Is there a common theme being used? Try and decide on colors that can help you to stand out.
But, don't take that to mean you can't use ANY colors the other players use. And more than likely it wouldn't leave you with a lot of choices. If you really feel like red will tell your brand story best, use red! But be cautious of the colors you combine and the hues you use to make sure you won't look exactly like someone else.
Our challenge to you.
If you already have a color palette, take some time to really evaluate whether it is telling your story as authentically as it could. Revisit your brand strategy and make sure the pieces are lining up.
If you are just starting to build your color palette, we have a few tips for making smart choices.
Consider primary and secondary colors.
The colors you choose need to have some order to them. Your primary colors are the main colors of your brand. They will be used on EVERYTHING. Your secondary colors should simply accent your primary palette. Use secondary colors very lightly and strategically. They're great for calling attention to details!
Don't choose too many colors.
It can be tempting to want to work with ALL the pretty colors when there are so many gorgeous shades out there. But, even the most colorful palettes don't usually have as many colors as it appears. We recommend keeping your primary palette at three colors or less. By limiting your palette, your brand recognition will have much better retention. It also keeps your brand from becoming overwhelming.
Don't forget your neutrals.
In a sea of color, sometimes people forget that they need to include neutral colors in their palette. Whether you're simply using black for your text or you have a very specific shade of grey, you need to set the standard for which neutrals work with the rest of your palette.
Still overwhelmed? Then it may be time to invest in working with a brand designer. Strategically choosing colors is part of our specialty! And if you don't feel confident that you know how to tell your brand story in your color palette, save up and hand that task off to the professionals when the time is right for you.
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