Color Psychology and How It Will Help Establish Your Brand Identity / by Olivia Penero

Believe it or not, color plays a very important role in conveying a message to your audience or brand consumers. We've heard it all before, that black exudes elegance and stature, that red and yellow stimulate the brain to feel hunger and want food, and that yellow is the general color for happiness. This is why some brands have painted their restaurant walls a certain color and designed their logos a certain shade.

Ever asked yourself why you trust brands with blue-colored logos more (depending on personal experience) and why you feel uneasy with brands that have shocking, neon-colored logos that claim they won't rip you off? Why is color in brand identity crucial?

 

Studies have shown that, depending on the product, around 90% of snap judgements made can be based purely on color alone. (source)

 

Personally, I wouldn't trust my money with a bank that plays with very bright colors. Based on personal preference, I'd be willing to invest in a bank that uses more subdued shades of blue or green. I feel like they're more "established" and wouldn't just run away with my investment. (Quick question: Have you ever observed which brands you're more trusting of because of their logo color?)

This is because people tend to associate color with what it is being used on or for. A study named The Interactive Effects of Colors emphasizes that to a "T", noting that if a color "fits" the brand's "personality" (keywords all over, everyone), no eyebrows will be raised to question its appropriateness or believability. Imagine a blue McDonald's logo. That would make me feel so uncomfortable. Or maybe a blue KFC logo. Pass!

Research has shown that color is attached to a persona or "aura" of some sort, as perceived by people at any given country. To prove this, let's have a little icebreaker: go through the short list below and decide whether or not you agree with the personality each color is said to represent. Ready?

 

BLUE: Said to convey trust, honesty, and dependability.

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

GREEN: Said to promote the good, healthy, and organic (also nature and relaxation)

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

BLACK: Conveys elegance, power, boldness, and sophistication.

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

RED: Said to convey a sense of urgency or boldness / high-energy.

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

PINK or PURPLE: Radiates femininity, fun, and youthfulness.

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

ORANGE: Stands for warmth, enthusiasm, and fun.

SOURCE: Google

SOURCE: Google

When companies hire designers to help in their branding, some usually come with a preconceived image of how they want it to look like and what colors they want on there. I've had experience where a high-end clothing brand wanted a rebranding of their line, but gave me color options that didn't match the personality they were aiming for. Often, a chat or two with the business owner (using suggestive psychology) will help convince them to choose more appropriate palettes. 

 

So how do you choose the right color palette for your brand?

The first (and most obvious) thing you can do is think about your brand's voice and feel. What do you want to be and how do you want customers to perceive you? Who are your target customers or audiences? Will your brand deal with teenagers, or professional businessmen? Once you've established that, you're closer to figuring out the proper palette for your brand. Here are a few more tips for you:

  • Start with a "base" color, one that fits your brand's voice and feel. Look through the colors above and check if you fit under any of them. If you need to add a color or two, use complementaries. (For more help, check out Color HuntPalettabPaletton, or Adobe Kuler)
  • If you plan to go international, keep in mind that colors in other countries convey different messages. (For example, in most of the world, white is closely related to happy weddings while in India, it's the color worn when someone dies.)
  • If you've finalized your colors, it's always wise to create a style guide, complete with the hex values for each. Place your logo on different backgrounds (eg. grey, black, and white) to help you get an overview of how it would look when you decide to expand your range of design/products.
  • Too many colors can ruin your brand. If you really have to, just use at most four (4) colors only.

 

My history with colors

It took me a while to find the colors for my brand. Since I started blogging last 2009, my color palette has changed a lot. I've gone from pinks and oranges to minimalistic black, greys, and dusty rose shades, and to aqua and apple green. There was always something off about the brand colors and I've realized why I haven't had peace with my brand yet.

I knew I've always been attracted to pink, but I wanted my brand to be an authority in the field I've chosen, which is art and design. I've tried so many combinations but still, there was something that wasn't right.

It was only this year that I realized why. I didn't really know what my brand stood for. Because I wanted to be and do so many things, I was struggling to find my point of interest. What did I really want my brand to represent? Technology? Blogging? Beauty? It dawned on me a few days ago that I wanted to be the one thing I studied for. In the end, the easiest topics for me to discuss were design and self-improvement. A life in design. Design and Life.

It also was hard for me to choose whether to go for minimalistic or go with the flow of this year (apparently, these are the design trends for 2017), but I could always use them on my designs for clients. They didn't have to represent who I am because they're hot this year. The obvious choice was to go for minimalism. 

 

Where are you now in terms of getting your brand smoothened out? I know it's a process, and it changes with you and your experience, but once you do get where you feel comfortable, it's a very rewarding feeling. Need someone to talk to regarding branding? I'm all ears. Hope this post helped you out!