How to set the tone with your brand colour palette
Understanding brand colour psychology
Colour is just about what makes something look nice, isn’t it? No, colour can evoke strong feelings and not always positive ones. So it’s important to understand just how important the right colour palette is for your brand style, look and feel. Colour can have a huge influence over people’s behaviour and therefore their decision-making process.
Your brand is about far more than just looking good (you can read more about that in this blog post). Identity (i.e. the visual side of your brand) and colour are inextricably linked, reflecting your values and connecting with your audience.
Where do you start with choosing your brand colour palette?
In simple terms, identifying your target market is the starting point. The zone where your unique personality and values crossover with your ideal customers’… that’s where you need to focus. It’s no good choosing your favourite colour if it doesn’t suit your brand values. But equally, choosing a colour you dislike isn’t going to make you proud to show off your branding, so it’s a fine balance.
To help you further, take a look at my FREE Brand Colour Meanings Guide.
And in addition to that, here’s a simple rundown of the main colours and the feelings they evoke, just to get your inspiration going…
How do you choose brand colours and how many should you have?
Once you have identified the style and feelings you’d like to convey through your branding, it’s time to start crafting your colour palette. When designing a new brand identity for my clients, I find that three to five complimentary colours is the right number.
Start with your base: Ideally you need a foundation colour, something such as dark grey, dark blue etc. I personally find black a little too harsh for most of my branding projects, so I usually soften it by paring it back to 90-95% of pure black, just to take the edge off. There’s nothing wrong with using black of course, but for most of the clients in my niche, pet businesses, it’s just too hard on the eye and doesn’t fit the brand style a lot of the time.
Then move on to your main colours: This tends to be one or two additional colours that will become recognisable across your marketing activities. Ideally you want someone to associate a particular colour with your business, and for that link to be positive recognition. You may wonder how this can be achieved when there are so many businesses sharing the similar colours, but it can be done. You just need to be consistent.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Publicity for Pet Businesses: Rachel's branding colour palette uses light blue at the core, with foundational colours of dark blue and dark grey. Rachel even adopted this colour range with her attire and location when having a professional photoshoot, so it really pays off to run the tones throughout all of your marketing presence.
The Canine Copywriter: Rikki's bright and bold branding is in keeping with her overall brand message – a no-fluff approach to copywriting. The blues are her foundation colours, with the bright yellow, white and pink used to convey excitement and positivity.
Kero & Bree: A softer colour palette for Amy's treat and enrichment business here, which works beautifully with her bespoke pet illustration branding (by yours truly). Notice the slightly off-black foundation colour, inspired by the dark colours in her dog illustrations. This playful colour palette gives Amy the chance to inform and educate whilst still maintaining a fun approach to her subject matter.
The Canine Treat Club: The classic soft teal and darker earthy tones to Laura's branding evoke feelings of class, quality and nature. The lighter 'sand' colour is used as an accent rather than a main colour, as you'll see on the thank you card shown. Again an off-black has been used for Laura's main foundation colour.
Tonally you want to choose colours that work together rather than fight against each other. There are also particular rules which are too in-depth to explain in this post but are adhered to by designers as a matter of course. Colours that are too close together in tone, or jar the eye when used alongside one another, will be avoided. Equally, readability and accessibility are things you need to keep in your mind… light tints of colours for body copy for example is going to result in your audience giving up trying to decipher what something says and moving on. We have very little time to engage people, so let’s make it as easy as we can.
Don’t forget to take a look at my FREE Brand Colour Palette Meanings download for inspiration.
How do you use a brand colour palette?
Consideration needs to be given to the wide range of applications that will need your colour palette. Print, online (website, social media etc) are just a couple. So putting your branding into the hands of a professional is highly recommended. Rolling your brand out consistently across so many mediums isn’t an easy task, an expert can help you with this.
Once your brand has had time to ripple out across your marketing activities, your chosen colour palette will become synonymous with you and your business. Result!
Changing your brand colour palette
Of course there may come a time when your colour/s just aren’t working for you anymore. Perhaps you feel you have been DIYing it a bit and your business has now outgrown the style you created at the start? Or perhaps you don’t really have a strong enough brand identity to create a presence within your sector?
Either way, a rebrand could work wonders for your business, moving it forward in ways you could never imagine. Check out my blog post 5 signs it’s time for a rebrand for more about that.
So there we have it in a nutshell! Don’t forget you can get your FREE Brand Colour Meanings Guide here
And if you fancy a chat about your brand identity, just give me a shout: email@example.com