When it comes to brand colours, a common rule you may come across is to stick with 6 colours. Of course, this rule does get broken by not just one or two brands, but the idea behind it is to have a consistent selection of colours you use, in order to create a cohesive look that allows your business to stand out and be easily recognised. Now, you may be wondering ‘How come colours play such a great role in a brand look that there are even rules to follow?’. Well, the answer to this is simple –
Are your ideal clients going to be instantly attracted to your brand or completely put off by it? You get to ‘have a say in it’ through your brand colours. Because colours evoke different feelings within people. In fact, the right colour palette could help your business stand out from the crown or get lost in it. Being aware of the power colours hold over perception, you can use them to your advantage and influence your audience to recognise your brand for what you wish they see.
This is where colour psychology comes in. It’s essentially a study of how colours affect human behaviour. In fact, they even impact our buyer’s behaviour. A study found that almost 85% of consumers believed colour was the primary reason they bought a certain product, whereas 80% confirmed that colour played a huge role in brand recognition. This makes colour a MAJOR factor in your brand identity. The right colour selection could prompt your ideal client to either enquire about your service/opt-in for your subscription or completely ignore your offer.
So when creating your colour palette, always take into consideration what kind of emotion you wish to incite within your audience. For example, if you wish them to feel ‘safe’ and ‘at peace’ when they see your brand, green would be a great choice because of the kind and tranquil mood it exudes. While colour psychology is a vast study, I’ve put together a list of the positive and negative meanings of some of the most common colours we come across in brands.
This concept is commonly used by interior designers and fashion stylists, however, it’s been gaining popularity among branding designers too. As we’ve discussed above, every colour incites different emotions within people, and unified together colours have personalities. These personalities are then accordingly matched to the 4 seasons.
SPRING – energetic, colourful, friendly
This season is proactive, youthful, creative and full of energy. Spring is approachable and deeply values openness. She’s an expert communicator making clear points. Spring is carefree and comes across as a breath of fresh air. Think bright, warm and light colours, with a slight touch of softness.
SUMMER – intuitive, relaxed, serene
Summer is a natural carer and in that sense, she’s very supportive and responsible. She’s also delicate and graceful. She takes things slowly, one day at a time. Classy and feminine vibe. Soft, muted, cooler, slightly faded, think pastels.
AUTUMN – relaxing, subtle, natural
With an organic, earthy and authentic vibe, autumn has a strong connection to nature. She is all about heritage, community and great quality. She acknowledges everyone and takes into consideration their history, aiming to always give her best. Warm, deep and intense colours, with some desaturation, making the colours appear muted to some extent.
WINTER – elegant, minimal, expert
The ideal colour palette for those businesses who wish to communicate formality, precision and professionalism. Winter has her feet on the ground and gets straight to the point. She’s distinctive and a true leader. Clear, bold, minimal, with cool undertones. The only colour palette where black fits just right.
Keep in mind that your brand colour palette could combine colours from different seasons. However, it’s important that if you take this approach, you remain clear about your brand personality to avoid any confusion with your brand message.
Here are some of the tools I love using when brainstorming and creating brand palettes, as well as a few resources you should check out if you’re interested in learning more about colour psychology.
Coolors.co & Adobe Color Wheel
Both Coolors and Adobe Color Wheel are great colour generators. They both have pretty much the same amazing features, with the only difference being that Coolors’ colour palettes are curated in vertical slots, whereas Adobe indeed uses a wheel. Both provide you with choosing what kind of colour combination you want to go for (monochromatic, complementary, etc.), showing you all shades of a chosen colour, providing you with HEX, RGB, CMYK codes. Coolors even provides you with the name of each shade, which I find really useful, especially in times when I get stuck with naming the shades I’ve picked for a colour palette. But that’s not all! For me, the best feature they both have is sampling colour from a photo! Yes, you read this right! You upload a photo you like, and they could both create the colour palette for you. Coolors is a bit more flexible because it lets you choose between having 2 to 10 colours, whereas Adobe is set in 5 colours. Both of them also let you export your colour palette (I usually export in AVE format) and use it whenever you need to.
Illustrator Colour Guide
My go-to colour generator, simply because it’s already integrated into Illustrator, which is my most used programme. You pick one colour and it automatically generates the other five for you, based on the combination setting you’ve chosen (monochromatic, complementary, etc.). It’s also way easier to save your colour scheme straight into Illust
rator, without having to export any additional files. The only times I opt for Coolors or Adobe Color Wheel are when I need to extract a colour theme from a photo or when I need a larger palette than the six you get in Illustrator Colour Guide.
The Brand Stylist
Probably the one person who I’ve learned the most from when it comes to colour psychology. Fiona Humberstone has courses, workshops, as well as various blog posts on colours, and even a book that I’ve been eyeing for a while and can’t wait to finally purchase! I’ve covered only the basics in this post, but if you wish to dig a little deeper into the magic of colours, I’ll definitely recommend checking out her website and learning from her!
I hope you found this information useful, and manage to either implement what you just learned in your own business or in your clients’ projects. If you have any questions, want to add something, just reach out on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!