How color impacts brand recognition

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Brendan Connelly, Senior Designer

A Graphic Designer with over 30 years of experience as a freelancer, art director, and business owner.

September 15, 2021

Ever wonder why certain brands stand out more than others? Or why particular brands appeal more to you than others do? A large part of this subliminal reaction is associated with the color that the brands use. In fact, certain colors and brands by extension can even affect your mood or perception.

For the vast majority of us, we’ve been blessed with the capacity to visualize the color spectrum, and whilst that in itself is just a small portion of the total perceivable and imperceivable frequencies in the universe, it certainly is vast enough for us to enjoy and appreciate our entire lives.

So, it stands to reason that we react to different colors in varying ways, to the point that we can feel certain emotions. It’s for the same reasons that when colors are selected in marketing, they can have a drastic effect on what consumers associate with your brand.

Choosing a color pallet

The choice of colors for your brand comes down to more than just personal preference. Selecting the best colors for your brand is based on the most effective emotional connection that you need those colors to have with your audience.

Brand Color - Color Spectrum
Accessing color guides helps you explore your options

All colors fit into three categories: cool, warm, and neutral. Brands with a specific focus will often choose a single color to drive the emotional connection of their brand however many opt to combine colors from different categories to achieve a more powerful effect.

Color can often be a sole reason for choosing a product. 85% of consumers say that color is the primary draw.

Let’s look at each category and how they work together:

Cool colors

Cool colors tend to have a calming effect. Used alone, however, these colors can have a cold or impersonal feel so when choosing cool colors it may be wise to add a color from another group to add warmth to your palette.

Try using blue, green, purple, turquoise, or silver to attain a cool effect.

Warm colors

Warm colors tend to have an exciting effect. However, when these colors are used alone, they can overstimulate and generate feelings of restlessness.  When choosing warm colors adding colors from another group will help temper this.

Red, Pink, Yellow, Orange, and Gold will provide warmth to your brand.

Neutral colors

Neutral colors are a great selection to mix with cool or warm palettes. They are effective as backgrounds in designs and tend to tone down the use of bold colors. Black is featured to add depth and focus whilst white can contribute a lighter feel.

Brown, Tan, Beige and Grey are other appealing neutral tones.

Testing your brand colors

Color has a huge influence on consumers connecting with brands, so it is extremely important to make sure that your brand has the most appropriate color scheme. You can have everything else on point but if your brand colors don’t convey the vibe or appeal that you seek, your product or service can easily be overlooked.

A great strategy is to test out various color schemes with a focus group. Firstly, find a color or combination that you feel resonates with your brand and write down why. Select a couple of others and put them to a group of friends or family or even post a poll on social media. Find out what your target audience thinks and see how close it matches to original intent.  You may find that a color from the alternative set may actually be more apt than the color scheme you thought of in the first instance.

When you landed on your core brand colors then the next step is to match some complementary colors for use in marketing material and websites. Your graphic designer has some wonderful tools to help find the best color palettes for your brand.

Brand Color - Graphic Design
Working with a designer can help determine the best color palette for your brand.

Here is a simple three-step process to get you started:

  1. Start with a neutral color
  2. Add two ‘Pop’ colors
  3. Select one ‘Call to Action’ color

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