There are many elements to figure out when building your brand. But when it comes to creating visual assets used to promote your brand, color should be a big consideration.
Colors are the first aspect of branding that a customer sees, and smart and vibrant colors can breathe life into an otherwise bland marketing campaign. Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of The Color Association, says, “The first point of interaction is shaped by the color, and color is the most memorable sense. Before anything else, [customers] see color.” If you doubt this, think about road signs. When is the last time you drove down the street and actually read the word “STOP” on a stop sign? We understand what the sign means based on the context of its color, shape and function, and that’s all we need to know.
A recent infographic from KISSmetrics suggests that 85% of customers base their buying decisions on the color of the product in question. Take the frozen-pizza brand DiGiorno, for example. The entirety of their packaging is designed with colors that resemble your classic pizza, right down to the cheese-colored tinge within the lettering surrounded by a red saucy color. This is meant to make you hungry, which in turn makes you desire the product. You might find other brands alongside it, but chances are your eyes will go straight to DiGiorno. The goal here is to make people hungry for the product. The colors on a DiGiorno box are meant to make you “taste” the pizza before you even touch the box, which influences your senses. In this exact same way, you want the color(s) of your brand to influence potential buyers.
The Meaning of Colors
At its core, color is a type of non-verbal communication, so you want them to be as accurate as possible. The meaning of colors can vary according to context and culture, so make sure you choose the proper ones for your market. For example, throughout most of Western culture, red is a color that suggests urgency or anger. In some East Asian cultures, however, it’s connected with prosperity and fortune. For most North American consumers, orange can represent a call to action, and green is often associated in part with wealth or nature.
Whatever the meaning, you want colors that will attract people to your business. While you can do whatever you want when it comes to your line of products and the color options for each, choosing the right color to market those goods can be a science in and of itself. Remember: you want a color that will get people through your doors or onto your website.
For example, when Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle in 1997, the majority of their billboards featured a neon green Beetle. Did they believe that neon green would be the color most buyers would purchase? No. But it accomplished two things. First, because neon green is a relatively unconventional color, it caught people’s eyes. Second, the color represented rebirth and renewal, which is exactly the image that Volkswagen wanted to project by bringing back an old staple.
As a marketer, one may think, “But the black one looks better.” However, in the case of the Beetle ad, the color black doesn’t represent anything, nor does it grab hold of anyone’s attention, as there are many black cars on the road. In regards to VW using neon green, Harrington says, "It allowed VW to communicate in the ad what they were all about—even if it just brought the customer in the store to buy the black or the silver."
Factors to Consider When Picking Your Palette
Executives often think choosing a brand’s color is a purely artistic choice and therefore pass off the task to a designer. This attitude might not be in your brand’s best interest. You will need to make sure that the designer has an understanding of how color works, or he or she may inadvertently use colors that work against your brand or the intent of your marketing campaign. Selecting proper colors is as strategic a business decision as any.
The following are some tips to take into account when you, not the designer, take marketing efforts into your own hands by picking the colors that will make your brand outshine all the others.
1. Analyze the Competition
Whether you want to fit in with industry color customs or be distinctive, take a look at your competitors’ color schemes. Taking your industry and competition into account allows you to assess what may and may not work for your brand.
2. Study Your Audience
3. Think Emotionally
Psychologically speaking, you want your colors to influence your intended audience. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine how they would want to feel when purchasing your product. For example, if you are selling an electric guitar, high-contrast colors—such as red and white or black and yellow—will spark the buyer’s interest more than solid, peaceful colors like blue, green or purple.
4. Remember the 60-30-10 Rule
This is a principle utilized by designers across many platforms. Separating your colors in ratios of 60% (dominant), 30% (secondary) and 10% (accent) is a simple guideline to create a professional-grade color solution for your product or space.
5. Play Into Your Brand’s Personality
The idea here is to first define the character of your brand and then think about how color can complement or interpret that personality. If your brand epitomizes professionalism, look for bold and clean color combinations. If you see your brand as affectionate and welcoming, use warm colors that will further emphasize that disposition.
6. Learn a Little About Design Yourself
What better way to give clout to your opinion than by learning something about what you’re commenting on? Read up on color symbolism. Learn the terms of the design trade, like CMYK or “color wheel,” and how they apply to your campaign. Even better, if you have time, take a design course through a local school or online. The more you know, the better your ability will be to make educated, effective decisions about how color can play a role in your brand and marketing campaigns.