Indisputable fact: it’s important for your brand to cultivate a strong emotional connection with your customer-base. And since you can’t communicate your company’s entire story in a logo, website, or storefront, the branding colours you choose can act as a powerful shortcut. After all, human beings react more to their emotions than their rational thoughts. This means that although the products or services you offer are of course important, your brand colours have the potential to impact your sales and performance even more than said products.
Famous colour theorist Faber Birren, wrote extensively about the connection between colour and emotional state in his book Color Psychology and Color Theory. Just as words can provoke emotions, so too can colours. Crazy but true: the same colours tend to provoke similar responses in very different people! Color theory runs deep: psychologists link it to human evolution shaped by eras of association.
Blood red, for instance, puts people on alert while dirt brown can be unappetizing. Warmer colours tend to make people hungrier than cold ones, a fact many restaurant colour schemes take into account. And let’s not forget cultural associations, like the way Americans associate green with money, or with “going green.” Although the same colour can have different meanings dependent on upbringing, gender, location, values, and many other factors, millions of years of biological conditioning make it easy enough to grasp how colour associations go beyond individual preference or experience.
The colour of emotions: a cheat sheet
Although your brand’s unique approach unique will be more complex dependent on your product, your purposes, your audience, your message, and the particular shade(s) and colour combo you’re going for, here’s a quick and dirty cheat sheet that breaks down common emotional responses to different colours:
Yellow: optimistic, clear, warm
Orange: friendly, playful, cheerful, confident
Pink: feminine, young, innocent
Red: excited, youthful, bold, passionate
Purple: creative, imaginative, wise, royal, luxurious
Blue: trustworthy, dependable, strong, professional
Green: peaceful, prosperous, healthy
Grey: balanced, neutral, subdued
Brown: rugged, earthy, traditional
White: clean, virtuous, pure, clear-cut
Black: powerful, sophisticated, edgy
Your brand personality
One thing’s for sure: be consistent. By using the same colours in all your campaigns and ventures, you strengthen your brand personality in the collective mind’s eye. Aside from this general rule of thumb, the specifics of your brand identity are key as well. As yourself: if your brand was a person, would they be young or old, masculine or feminine, bold or tranquil, rugged or sophisticated? Choosing your branding colours is easy if you know what you’re trying to communicate.
Building a brand colour scheme
Although there most definitely no concrete rules for choosing your branding colours, successful colour schemes typically have between 1-4 colours. Even monochrome schemes will require some variation to serve different purposes. Usually, you will have a base colour (reflective of your brand’s most dominant trait), your accent (the colour you use most after your base colour), and a neutral (most likely a background colour). But as always, the help of a skilled designer with a trained aesthetic sense can go a long way toward helping you establish the right colour formula for your brand’s purposes!