“Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.” – Pierre Bonnard
Choosing the right colors for your brand might seem simple but there is a lot more to consider than just picking your favorite color. Color is a key principle of design that is as essential as your logo. Each individual hue comes with it’s own connotations. Additionally, associations with each color can change depending on the situation or even where the target audience is from. So yes, the colors need to look beautiful but by putting some thought into the meaning behind them, your brand can make a much deeper impact.
Before we dive in, here are a few key terms that are used in color theory. Having a familiarity with these will help as you develop your brand’s color palette. For a more in-depth look at these terms, check out Part 2 in Smashing Magazine’s three-part “Color Theory for Designers” series.
The foundation! Hue literally means “color”. So when you’re referring to “blue” or “orange”—that’s the hue.
The intensity of the color—this can also be thought of as the purity of the color. For instance, cadet blue is a lower chroma than bright blue.
Strength of the color—high saturated color is strong, low saturated color is weak.
Value is synonymous with lightness. The lighter the color, the higher the value.
Original Hue + Gray = Duller color or Tone.
Original Hue + Black = Darker color or Shade.
Original Hue + White = Lighter color or Tint.
“Design is thinking made visual.” – Saul Bass
Color psychology is an in-depth look at how color is perceived. Every day, we’re being affected by colors whether we are aware of it or not. But what does each color mean? Color consultants specialize in the intricacies of color theory and psychology but you can certainly make a difference for your personal brand with a little information in your arsenal. Check it out below:
The color of passion and importance can also be the color of anger and violence. Red is a high-energy color that can literally raise your heart rate. In eastern countries, red is considered good luck (think the little red envelopes of Chinese New Year).
Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow….I forgot what we were doing here. Yellow symbolizes hope and happiness but it can also be a warning (so can red, for that matter). Yellow is an uplifting color—depending on the shade or tint, it can feel peaceful or classic.
My favorite Eiffel 65 song. While blue can be associated with sadness (feeling blue), it’s also the most trustworthy color. But don’t let that turn you off—blue’s got range! From light blue that feels sweet and calm to electrically exciting bright blue all the way down to steady navy, there’s a lot of to choose from.
Red’s enthusiastic cousin—orange combines that vibrance with the cheerfulness of yellow to exude creativity and health. It’s an attention-grabber for sure—why do you think those traffic cones are all orange?
The color of nature, green is refreshing and calming. On the flip side, green can symbolize jealousy (aka being green with envy) or inexperienced. Green is associated with growth, so it’s great for environmental endeavors, as well as finance.
The color of royalty—including the artist Prince! Purple was traditionally difficult to extract and find, so in the past only the very rich wore purple. Purple can feel very whimsical and as with any secondary color, it embodies some of the attributes of it’s parent colors (the energy of red and the soothing vibes of blue.)
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney
Ready to paint with all the colors of the wind now? Here are a three tips to get you started:
You can’t craft your brand out of thin air. Start to think about the meaning, the personality of your brand. What matters to you? What do you want people to feel when they see your branding? Make some notes, do some mind-mapping and think about what makes sense to you.
2. Research and inspiration
This is step 2 for a reason—it’s really easy to become influenced by the things you see and you want to make sure whatever you create feels authentic to you and your brand. Let your notes inform your research—not the other way around. I highly recommend design-seeds.com for color palette inspo, and for general design inspiration—hit up dribbble.com and behance.net.
3. Experiment and finalize
My favorite step! Once you’ve got the general idea of where you want to go, head over to coolors.co (or any other color palette tool! That’s just my go-to) and start playing around with the combinations. Test our different shades, tones, tints until you land on the perfect palette for your brand. Make sure you save the color codes—Hex, RGB and CMYK—so that you can recreate your palette.
If you’re not ready to start crafting your own visual branding, let’s talk! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about how we can develop your aesthetic and brand messaging.
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