/Color Theory in Brand Building

March 15th
Mauve Valentine Color Swatch

Color theory includes elements of art, science, and psychology. In this post, we will whittle it all down to a few points that will be relevant to your new brand or re-branding efforts for your business, but the underlying theme is that color creates meaning, and it should be used with purpose and intention.

Selecting the Right Color(s) for Your Brand Identity

First of all, you want to make sure that any color you select to represent your brand is the right color for your industry, your specific product or service, and the message that you want to deliver about that product or service. Different colors have long been known to play a psychological role, influencing buyer behavior and more. Think about the way the color turquoise makes you feel, as opposed to cinnamon.

Turquoise Color Swatch

Perhaps turquoise evokes images of a tropical paradise, which may be warm, serene, or peaceful.

Swimming Pool

On the other hand, cinnamon may evoke images of being warm inside your home in the winter, or cozying up with some hot cross buns next to a fireplace.

Cinnamon Color Swatch

Of course, your own responses may be different from those listed above, but you can see how these two simple colors produce such varied emotional responses.

Creating a Cohesive Color Scheme

It’s important to not only select colors that work well, but that work well together by developing a harmonious color scheme to use across all of your brand materials. This may include a dominant color, accent colors, and neutral colors. We’ll use an example from our own brand, taking the dominant color which we have called “Mauve Valentine” with HEX #990066.

Mauve Valentine Color Swatch

Now, we will go to the “color wheel,” which is a common representation of color theory. Take the dominant color for your brand, then use a bit of geometry on the wheel to find some supporting actors. By selecting colors opposite each other on the color wheel, you can find complimentary colors which are very high-contrast and really “pop.”

Patty Color Swatch
Logo Using Complimentary Colors

By selecting colors arranged in a triangle (such as the primary colors red, yellow, and blue), rectangle, or square around the color wheel, you can also find harmonious color combinations that work well together in a less jarring way.

Shamrock 'n Roll Color Swatch
Logo Using Triadic Colors
Wide Ruled Color Swatch
Logo Using Triadic Colors
Logo Using Triadic Colors

Finally, you can select colors that appear next to each other to form an analogous color scheme which is sometimes more of a “safe” bet, but you must make sure to include enough contrast between elements to avoid having a dull image.

Curry Powder Color Swatch
Logo Using Analogous Colors
Logo Using Analogous Colors

As you look over each example, pay attention to your emotional response to each combination. When pink is set off against green, how does that compare to the pink and blue combination? What about red and pink? Some of the designs are visually pleasing, some are just wacky and maybe better suited for a candy store, some are “cool” while some are “hot.” In addition to this selection of pure colors, you can add variations by lightening, darkening, or de-saturating any of these colors. This is where terms like tint/brightness, shade/value, and saturation/tone come in to play, respectively.

Why is this important in terms of branding?

Selecting the correct color combination for your logos and other brand materials will allow you to communicate with your audience without saying a word! Going back to the examples above, think about what each example makes you believe about the Color & Code brand. By selecting the right color combination as the foundation of your brand from the very beginning, you will influence your customers through visual communication.

Users will take one glance at your design and subconsciously respond, either positively or negatively. You will of course want to elicit positive responses so that customers keep coming back for more of your product or service.

The Integrity of Your Brand Identity

It is important to not only pay attention to these factors in the beginning, but to implement them across all of your materials – whether creating a logo design, Web site design, business cards, or letterhead. Doing this effectively can help to: establish your unique brand concretely in the customer’s mind; reinforce your message each time the customer interacts with your brand; provide a sense of reliability, security, or trust; showcase your business’ professionalism and attention to detail.

If you follow the above steps when initially building your brand or when undergoing a re-brand, you will benefit in the longer-term by providing the right message to your customers and helping them to remember it with subtle visual cues.

So, to recap:

  1. Select the appropriate dominant colors to deliver the right message about your brand
  2. Choose harmonious supporting colors based on modern color theory
  3. Implement these colors across all online and print materials

At Color & Code, we are a bit obsessed with color (in a healthy way of course). We can work with you to establish the right colors for your brand, develop brand guidelines including specs for both print and online work, and help you maintain consistency across all of your customer touchpoints. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more or get a quote!

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Amy is a creative and enthusiastic web developer with over a decade of experience in front-end web design including CSS, PHP, and JavaScript. Her specialties include digital marketing, branding, user experience design, search engine optimization, graphic design, social media marketing, and copywriting.

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