Making the life-changing decision to start or grow a business spurs an onslaught of decision making. There is determining your target audience, deciding on a name for your business, and choosing a location. One of the more fun but creatively complex tasks you’ll partake in is choosing the colors for your visual brand.
Using a consistent combination of colors to represent your business is a building block for a cohesive brand. A business color scheme helps potential clients to remember who you are, associate your business with an emotion or feeling (ideally positive), and can ultimately enhance your target audience’s perception of what you’re selling.
Here are five key things to consider when choosing a color scheme for your business.
1. The science behind your choice.
Sometimes the use of a certain color may seem obvious; e.g., bright green for a farmer’s market or some variation of craft paper brown for a package delivery company. But it’s important to research the psychological meaning behind the color you’re considering. For instance, a color like red is generally perceived as bold, energetic and exciting, so it may not be an ideal choice for a spa, a business that is normally associated with serenity and relaxation. When determining your business colors, finish this sentence: My customers should see my product or service as_________. Then figure out which color matches that adjective.
2. Whether the colors compliment one another.
A pair of colors that are opposite to one another on the color wheel and have the strongest contrast between them complement one another. Combinations like deep purple and bright yellow or dark blue and orange not only work great together, they will also give your business brand a more diverse visual persona.
3. Whether the colors contrast.
A color’s value describes how light or how dark it is. Two colors with values that have the same level of lightness or darkness and seem to disappear when they overlap can be hard to decipher—even harder for someone who is colorblind and may indistinct if someone prints one your digital files in black and white. Avoiding the use of colors with similar values will ensure that clients see your brand with clarity, remember who you are and prevent the need for an expensive brand overhaul. If you already have an existing color palette with two or more colors that have similar values, be sure to use each of those colors in separate spaces to avoid problems.
4. Your colors will be associated with you for the life of your business so choose wisely.
Color is one of the more prominent elements of a visual brand and a long-term commitment. Though you’ll always have the option to change your preferences and emerge with a new palette, it may be challenging to maintain the same level of brand recognition if your target audience has already begun to associate your business with a set of existing colors. Try to avoid making a full on commitment to any set color combination before you’ve considered others. Pantone color systems can have a significant impact on your wallet, but a budget-friendly resource like the Shades Color Swatches Coated & Uncoated CMYK Process System Guide (which provides CMYK, RGB and HEX values) or Color and Style’s Color Swatch Fans allows you to evaluate countless color combinations, use them to get feedback from your target consumers and share exact color values with your creative team.
5. Be as unique as possible.
In some cases different businesses that provide similar products and services may use colors that are also similar. For example, it’s not uncommon to see multiple supermarkets that use green in their branding since green is commonly associated with fresh food. If the type of business you operate is one that has a commonly used color that you want to adopt as part of your visual brand, research those other businesses, learn their color values and choose shades that differ.
Choosing your business colors can be exciting and fun, but the process shouldn’t be taken lightly. Understanding how your colors make people feel and how each color in your scheme plays off of the other is key to having a visual brand that stands the test of time.