The first thing our brains process is colour (or color 🙃).
Scrolling through instagram, walking down the street and in the supermarket, trying to decide which brand of washing powder to buy. Taking some time to think about colours is so important for your brand.
The speed at which we decide if we like a product or not is 60-90% based on colour.
So getting it right for your product or brand is paramount, to be ahead of the competition, to stand out from the crowd — but it’s not just about slapping a lot of bright colours down.
There’s method to that madness.
Colour Theory — the science and art of using colour
Below are the effects of how colours mix or contrast with each other. We learned all of this at school, we’ve probably forgotten most of it, so here’s a reminder;
Colours convey meaning to everything, as well as in branding it communicates a message without words — look at famous brands, you could probably identify them all without needing their wording. The colour and shape will be enough.
Pepsi, Nike and Mastercard are easily recognisable using just their shapes and brand colours.
The other thing to add about these logos is they’re simple, clean shapes, nothing overloaded.
Trust, dependability and calmness.
Power, it can be both fear or love.
Joy and optimism but too much can cause anxiety.
Balance, harmony, health, but can also be materialism and over-possession
Purity, innocence, cleanliness, breathes air into a design
Sophistication, independence, but on the flip side can show evil, depression and even death.
Your colour palette
As well as your brand, how you use your colour palette in your own marketing is an interesting process too.
Having a large palette can give you a lot of choice, but can also lead to confusion if all the colours are used at once.
My advice would be to keep it simple, 4–5 colours maximum, and choose 2 primary (dominant) colours max. Too many can lead to overload.
RELATED: A Font Pairing Quick Guide
Choosing your colours
This is tantamount to how long is a piece of string. Everyone has their story, their history, their future, their ….just their. It’s about them. It’ll be personal to you.
*How you choose your colours is your journey, it needs thought and consideration, testing, failing, and testing again.
An important question to ask
What pieces will I be designing? Things like infographics and larger pieces may potentially need more colours.
Have a primary (dominant) brand colour, maybe two. No more.
This dominant colour will be ‘your brand’. But think carefully about what it should be (see above*) just because you like a colour may not be enough, it may give the wrong impression for what you’re trying to convey. And too much of one colour is something to consider too — balance it out with something complimentary.
Balance really is key.
Keep things balanced, don’t over do it, don’t underdo it.
Some examples of great colour palettes;
App interface by Tomasz Mazurczak;
Nice pastels, complimentary colours, great spacing. With an app you may need a few more than 2 colours, this works really well. It’s subtle and works really well for the subject.
Blog/book image by DAN Gartman;
Using only 3 basic colours this one is lovely. Blue being dominant, with shades of that — the orange setting it off.
Marketing for ‘The Rail Park by Mike Smith;
Very simple, just 2 colours — green being dominant, white setting it off nicely.
📚 Do your research, this bit is so important
favourite colours are a good start but it needs to make sense
🧠 Think carefully about what colours fit your brand.
⚖️ Keep things balanced and simple, don’t overdo the amount of colours you choose — aim for a strong dominant colour.
I’m a huge fan of choosing colour palettes, along with finding fonts, it’s one of my favourite parts of the brand process. If you’re on the lookout for a colour palette generator this post on Dribbble is so useful.
Hello, I’m Nik , I specialise in Marketing & Brand Design for start-ups and small businesses. I also enjoy writing about freelancing, design, authenticity and experience-based thoughts and positive outcomes. Follow me Twitter | LinkedIn