Too often when designing new branding, people will focus a lot of effort and energy on the shape of their logo, but will leave the colour choice as an afterthought.
While a good logo is indeed important, graphic designers ignore colour selection at their own peril. It is imperative to put careful thought into your branding colours in addition to logo design.
Believe it or not, colour carries a lot of meaning. Some of it is interpreted consciously, but it also works on viewers’ subconscious. Both nature and human culture has influenced countless subtle, yet indelible emotional associations with different colours.
Therefore, paying attention to the psychology of colour is an essential part of successful branding.
What are some of the most common colour connotations?
Before we look at individual colours, let’s look at overall palettes. Bold colours are definitely eye-catching, which is good. But on the downside, they can also appear tacky to a more conservative generation. On the other hand, softer and muted colours can lend an air of calm sophistication.
Very light colours can evoke clean, energetic, and bright feelings. Meanwhile, dark palettes can convey a sense of exclusiveness, mystery, or luxury.
Think about what you want your brand to feel like, and about what your customers are looking for when you start choosing between bold/muted and light/dark colours.
Individual colours also suggest certain emotions too. Here are a few examples (although this is far from an exhaustive list of every colour and association):
- Red – Passion, power, and aggression can all come to mind. It is also frequently used for food and restaurants because it may increase appetites.
- Green – Nature and the environment are obvious connections. But it is also often associated with money and financial growth.
- Purple – Both royalty and the church have been associated with the colour purple. This may bring feelings of wealth and wisdom to mind.
- Blue – This colour has long had a connection to professionalism, stability, and integrity.
- Yellow – Yellow can evoke warm sunny feelings, but it comes with a risk. Since yellow is also used for warnings and caution signs, it could be off-putting.
Fewer colours tend to be better than several
Part of the purpose of good branding is to make your brand stand out and be instantly recognizable. One or two colours can be used to create a consistent “look.” However, with too many colours your branding risks looking like everything else and nothing.
Consider your customer’s culture
Are you designing a global brand? Or perhaps your customers tend to hail from a specific ethnic or cultural background? Different cultures have developed different associations with colours. While North Americans associate funerals with black clothing, in other parts of the world white is the primary funerary colour. Know who you’re trying to target so you can evoke the intended emotion without it being lost in translation.