5 Essential Things You Should Know Before Choosing Your Brand Colors
Many new business owners and bloggers trying to decide what colors to use for their new brand discover that it’s harder than they expected. Sound familiar? And after doing a quick search on the web for the best brand colors to use, or which colors mean what in marketing, you realize that there may be more to choosing these colors than just going with the ones you prefer. Well, you aren’t alone. Most people don’t choose their colors based on the right criteria, and it can lead to a lot of unnecessary redesign later.
Here are a few quick tips and some really fun tools to help you walk through the process of choosing your brand colors without the overwhelm. So let’s get to it!
1. Define Your Ideal Client
Most who begin this journey are excited (as they should be!) to jump into creating the face of their new business or blog and start by choosing colors they themselves would gravitate toward. They have something in mind according to where they would shop, visit online, or what they would order. Don’t make this mistake! You are not selling to you! Learning more about who you are selling to and researching what they are attracted to is super important. If you are just starting out and haven’t done this yet, you may want to visit my post about reaching your ideal client before moving forward. It’s a much more thorough look at this step.
Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself when choosing a color palette.
What gender and/or age bracket are my ideal customers in?
What is their number one problem? What is involved in solving it?
Where are they used to shopping and what colors are affiliated with that?
What does your target market value most? Trust? Organization? Love? Savings? Fun?
Where do they live? In the city? The country? Do they travel a lot?
2. Do Research and Get Inspiration
This is the fun part!! There are many ways to get inspired when selecting brand colors and deciding what you’d like your vibe to be. Start by trying to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. How would you want to feel when you are interacting with your brand?
Here are a few tools, resources and ideas to get you started.
Look up the latest color trends in branding for the current year. Here is a look at 2019 color trends, as well as what’s trending in logo design this year.
Create a private board on Pinterest and start pinning images and color palettes that, if you were your target audience, would speak to your product or service. Once you begin pulling images together, you may start to see color combinations emerge that you hadn’t considered before.
Compare a ton of palettes with this fantastic resource! Canva has a really fun color combinations tool that lets you look at sample brand color palettes and see which colors look good together. This can inspire some truly creative brainstorming.
Use your own images. Another pretty fabulous tool is the palette generator on Canva. They have created a neat way to take the inspiration images you have saved on Pinterest, or anywhere else, and upload them to see what color palette stands out in the image. If you are looking for stock images to use on your website to support your brand, here is a comprehensive list of free stock image sites you can check out!
Find out the exact colors you want with one of my favorite tools! The ColorPick Eyedropper Browser Extension. This little gem is so easy to use and can save you a ton of time trying to figure out what colors are actually being used on all those websites you have bookmarked for inspiration. All you do is visit any website where you’d like to “grab” their exact color hex code, use the eyedropper in the tool, and click on the color you want. YES! Win. The catch is you can only use it with Chrome or Firefox. Those are the two browsers that have added this tool as an extension.
Use ColorPick to build your palette. As I mentioned above, you can use your own images to inspire a color palette for your brand by using Canva’s generator. But if you want to be in control and choose the colors that jump out to you from your images, the ColorPick Eyedropper tool allows you to pull up an image online and choose very specific colors and build a palette from one image. This is especially useful for those who don’t use or aren’t familiar with programs like Adobe Photoshop. Check out the color palette inspiration on Design Seeds, and just think how many colors you can find and how creative you can get when using this method.
3. Start With 1-2 Main Colors.
The easiest way to get started is to begin with your main colors. Think of it like the foundation on which you build your brand. These will become what people recognize as part of your visual identity. You will want your main colors to not only attract your target market, but should reflect your company’s most important attribute or trait. The rest of the colors you’ll be choosing will build off of these colors.
They won’t necessarily be the brightest colors in your palette but will need to be what you use when driving your design choices. Main website details, logo design, infographics, blog graphics, print materials, etc. will be places you’ll want to consider using these colors.
Color theory is another thing to consider when choosing your main brand colors. Here is a quick guide to understanding color theory in design to help you when selecting your palette.
4. Add 1-2 Neutral Colors
Think of your neutral colors as the fabric that ties everything together. Typically these colors are used for backgrounds, stationary, textures, patterns, font colors, or even filters over your images. Neutral colors include colors like black, gray, white, ivory, tan, beige, gold, silver, or brown. These colors, while individually they can lean more toward warm or cool (tan = warm, gray = cool), they all will work with any palette. Remember, your brand colors won’t need to all be warm or cool; they can be mixed and complimentary.
This slideshow post from Adobe Spark’s instagram shows how solid main colors and neutrals work together. These palettes were auto-generated in Spark Post derived from desert vistas.
5. Choose 1-2 Accent Colors
Accent colors are what you will use to compliment your main colors and add a “pop” of color and interest. You might choose a bright contrasting color, or a dark bold color if you have a lighter palette. These are the colors that are best used for buttons, calls to action, links, accent details, navigation menu, heading text, or anything you would like to bring more attention to. However, keep in mind these shouldn’t take away from your main colors. Make sure you are consistent in using these colors in elements like buttons and calls to action so your audience gets used to how those colors appear throughout your site and what to do when they see them.
Here is an example of how I use my brand colors on my site. Remember, you can operate outside the box with creative license as well. For example, you’ll see that I don’t follow the rules 100% on how I use my accent color and main colors. To be pleasing to the eye and to create balance on my site, I have bent the rules a bit. That’s ok! Get inspired and try different things.
Remember to make this fun, inspiring, and creative! If this starts to feel overwhelming, stressful, or like you’ll just never get there, take a break and come back to it. Something that helps me when designing is to write down all of my goals with the design. Just begin with writing down your thoughts and goals as you move through each of these tips. You’ll find that your priorities come out and move you in the right direction.
Cheer yourself on! And congratulations on your new business venture. We are here if you have any questions and we’d love to hear how this has helped you on your entrepreneurial journey. So, drop us a comment below and let us know how this has helped you or if you have any additional tips to share!
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