Building A Brand, Part 1: Choosing Your Colours For A New Era
Words: Ina Georgala
The year 2019 is gone. With that comes not only a new year but a new decade. So what are your new year's resolutions for your business? Do you want to start your dream business, expand your current business or explore new markets?
Good brands stand out
In such a competitive market, crafting a brand that stands out amongst the competition is crucial. It is the way you present your business to your customers, it tells them who you are, what you do and what you stand for. And crafting your brand starts with the logo you choose - and the colours you use in it.
Think about it for a minute. How many of your brand choices don't you make on colour alone? Marketing experts say that a whopping 70 to 85% of consumers recognise a preferred brand by its colours. So why not harness the power of colour when you create your new brand or rebrand an old business for the new decade?
Colour Equals Emotion
Colour is such a powerful shortcut to your customer's emotions because all colours have emotional content. Look at the colour red, for example. It is associated with love, dynamism, energy and passion. Any business who wants to be seen as dynamic, energetic and passionate, will benefit from working some red into their logo's colours.
American colour authority Faber Birren's books (available on Amazon) are a good starting point if you want to know more about using colour psychology for your brand. Pantone.com and Shutterstock.com are also great resources for colour trends. For example, Pantone launches a Colour of the Year at the beginning of each year (2020's colour is Classic Blue), while Shutterstock issues an annual Colour Trends Report that predicts the most popular colours used in branding and design. This is a very easy way of keeping your branding colours on trend.
Nobody will be surprised that blue is the leading colour choice of the world's top brands, followed by red, then black or grey/silver and finally gold or yellow. When one has a quick look at some of the meanings and emotions attached to these colours, one can see why they are so popular:
BLUE is the colour of professionalism, security and formality. It is mature and trustworthy. Tech companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook have blue logos, and so do many banks.
RED demands attention as it stands for passion, excitement and energy, which is why Coke and Virgin use this colour.
GREY and its cousin silver are masculine, classic, serious, mysterious and mature - and therefore often used to sell high-end men's beauty products and cars.
YELLOW is the colour of happiness, youth and optimism. The fast food industry likes yellow - think of Nando's and McDonalds.
GOLD is the colour of wealth, prosperity, glamour and generosity and often used in the high-end hospitality industry.
BLACK evokes a powerful, sophisticated, edgy, luxurious and modern feeling. It is much-loved by minimalist brands such as Apple and Nike.
All colours have both positive and negative attributes. For example, red is also associated with danger, black with death, yellow with cowardice and blue with depression. Being aware of the negative attributes of a particular colour, as well as the context and culture you intend using them in, can prevent costly branding mistakes.
So where does one start?
Think of your brand as a person. What kind of personality would your brand have? Is it feminine or masculine, modern or classic, youthful or mature, playful or serious, loud or quiet, upmarket or affordable? Jot down all the words that appeal to you.
Once you've established a personality for your brand, you can start looking at colours that will project that personality in a way that your target market will relate to. Create a mood board for your business and stick down all the colours, images and logo designs that project a brand personality you like. It is important that you also do a bit of research about current logo trends and try to think outside the box. Your logo should look good not only in printed format, for example, but also be responsive to desktops, tablets and cellphone formats for future digital marketing campaigns. Research the logos, websites and colour schemes of other brands in your industry before you settle on a colour – you want your brand to stand out and not be branded a copycat. Once all the above “homework” is done, you will have a much clearer idea of your brand personality and you can start choosing your colours.
There are no hard and fast rules for choosing your brand colours but as a general rule of thumb, you should settle on a maximum of three colours or less – a base, an accent and a neutral colour. The base colour reflects the main personality you want your brand to project, while the accent colour underpins your brand's main personality. It should match the base brand colour visually and emotionally, without competing for attention. A neutral colour like grey or white offsets and accentuates your base and accent colour. All good brands follow the same recipe: they are unmistakable, consistent and simple. Keep that in mind when you instruct the graphic designer creating your logo. A fussy logo with too many elements and colours will not benefit you. Take a leaf out of Coke's book: It took them 130 years to perfect one of the most recognisable brands on the planet. Now you have the same chance to build a brand for the next decade!