The choice of colors for a brand’s visual identity is definitely one of the most interesting and controversial marketing aspects. Indeed, the color is before everything perceived in a very subjective and personal way, depending on everyone’s education and story. With that said, it appears intuitively to us – and this is backed by several studies – that color selection has a big impact on both the brand perception by consumers and their buying behavior. Color is the very first element perceived by the brain, before shapes, and well before words of course. The perception of colors is done in a blink, in a purely intuitive and unconscious way. For that reason, color selection is obviously not a moundain thing. The colors of your brand shouldn’t be picked based on your personal tastes, but rather on the emotion seeked by your clients when using your products or services. Do they want to be reassured or entertained? Do they want to be offered to relax? Are they expecting dynamism, serenity, strength, refinement…? This guide will give you a few useful tips to select, step by step, the most adequate colors when elaborating your brand identity.
- Picking your brand’s colors: elements to consider
- Color selection for your website
- How many colors to pick?
Picking your brand’s colors: elements to consider
Your direct competitors
Before everything, take into consideration your direct competitors and stand out by choosing different colors so you don’t get confused with them and come up with an easily recognizable brand identity.
Your brand’s context
Remember as well that the connotations associated with colors change depending on the context. For example, brown can generate a feeling of rustiness when associated with leather or wood, and a feeling of gluttony when associated with chocolate.
The cultural environment of your target audience
It’s worth noting that color meanings change based on the country and the culture. However, some connotations are universal, just like the fact that red represents an alert, green means that everything is fine, or blue evokes water and the sky, some sort of serenity and freshness. But colors can be perceived totally differently from one country to another. Here are a few particularly meaningful examples:
- In France, white is associated with weddings and neutrality, whereas in China, in Japan or in India, it’s related to death.
- Inversely, for the Chinese, red is the color of matrimonial union and luck, whereas it’s a synonym of passion for the French.
- In China again, green is the color of lie, whereas, in France, it’s associated with security. Let’s not forget that it’s also the official color of Islam.
- In France, black is known as the color of death, whereas in Indian, it represents health, and in Thailand, it represents bad luck!
- In Egypt, grief is associated with yellow whereas Tibetan Buddhists consider this color as spiritual; in Asia, it’s the color of loyalty and in India, it’s the one of commerce.
- As for blue, it represents grief in Iran, but immortality in China!
Your clients’ gender and age
Also, pay attention to your audience’s gender (sex): a male public won’t have the same affinities as a female one. For example, women like purple a lot, as opposed to men who largely prefer blue. Similarly, in terms of shades, men will prefer dark colors whereas women will be more sensitive to bright ones. As for the age, teenagers tend to like bright and dynamic colors whereas pastel colors are commonly associated with young children.
Color selection for your website
Websites have now become a fundamental visual identity element. It’s important to keep the same color code for all your communication platforms. Your website is no exception. When launching a new brand, you can easily create a website autonomously and with no prior technical knowledge thanks to online services. This type of web design tools offers free website templates, pre-created by professionals and allowing you to find inspiration easily depending on your activity sector. For your website design, select carefully a color palette because it’s worth noting that a website user decides within only 8 seconds if they will stay on the page or leave. However, the duration of the visits influences partially your ranking on search engines. Here are a few tips to choose your website’s colors properly:
- Don’t use too many colors.
- Make sure that your colors go well together.
- Also, choose at least one contrasting color, in particular for your call to action buttons. The color of these buttons will influence your conversion rate. For instance, a red call to action button will be more efficient, especially if it contrasts with the other colors of the design.
How many colors to pick?
To be efficient, your visual identity must be simple and impacting. It is therefore not advised, as we saw, to use too many colors: 3 colors should be the maximum. It’s also worth noting that 90% of companies worldwide use only 6 colors (blue, red, green, pink, black, and green).
Colors and their connotations in France
Do not hesitate to check the logos and visual universes of the biggest companies to perceive better each color’s connotation, get inspired, and make your choice knowingly. Broadly speaking, here are the aspects generally associated with the most common colors:
- Black: associated with grief and sadness, elegance, luxury, darkness, mystery, soberty, lust… Areas: art, luxury…
- Pink: evokes innocence, childhood, purity, softness, romanticism… Areas: young children, gluttony (confectionery, pastry), entertainment…
- White: refers to purity, neutrality, innocence, emptiness, freshness, cleanliness, absence… Areas: religion, winter, news, wedding, fashion…
- Yellow: often represents dynamism, parties, movement, light, heat, richness, jealousy, lie, curiosity… Areas: tourism, information, agro-food, insurance, and credit… Note: Babies don’t like this color and may cry when facing an overly aggressive yellow.
- Blue: it’s a male color. Used for uniforms, it represents authority, but also serenity, dream, security, confidence, truth, seriousness, loyalty, peace, melancolia, wiseness, freshness… Areas: “corporate” universe, travel, aeronautical, environment, computing and new technologies… Note: this is the most broadly appreciated color. It’s been chosen for this reason by several brands.
- Brown: considered as a pragmatic, basic, rustic, simple color, it inspires stability, heat, togetherness, endurance, rural areas, but also dirtiness.
- Grey: vector of neutrality, compromise, objectivity, fairness, sophistication, etc. It allows to soften vivid colors.
- Orange: brings cheerfulness, dynamism, exotism…
- Red: must be used sparingly because it triggers a feeling of violence (color of blood). It’s associated with love, heat, joy, anger, danger, hell, emergency, the forbidden. Some red variants such as bordeaux may give a positive feeling of strength. Areas: sport, eroticism, humanitarian, media, wine and gastronomy, luxury… Note: It increases the heart rate and the appetite. That’s why it’s often used in restaurants.
- Purple: color of dreams and spirituality, but also delicacy, discretion, meditation, melancolia, extrentricity, sadness, and loneliness. Areas: beliefs, art and culture, studies, femininity…
- Green: sign of nature and health. It’s appeasing and refreshing, and often related to luck and hope but also ecology, sharing, balance, rest, security, tolerance, growth… Areas: nature, discovery and adventure, environment and ecology, travel, education… Note: It’s the color that humans see the most in the darkness. Generally speaking, warm colors refer to creativity, dynamism, and energy, while cold colors evoke calmness, security, and professionalism.
How do I build a strong brand identity?
Take the first step and create a unique logo that your customers will love!
Color selection is an important and delicate step in elaborating your visual identity because this choice is about synthesizing a lot of parameters. We hope that this guide helped you apprehend more precisely all the elements to consider when defining the colors of your logo, your website, and all your communication media.