I’ve mentioned this before, but most entrepreneurs usually start off their business with the logo, colours, and fonts. And usually, none of them stick for very long, but the fastest one to change is colours. When we choose colours out of nowhere or based on our own likes and assumptions, they tend to change for various reasons such as our mood that day (no, seriously), the latest trends, idols, and even popular media (you have no idea how many red and gold logos I saw the year Iron Man came out)!
Most of the time, we choose colours based on our own likes. After all, we’re the one who is going to be looking at those colours every single day, right? Your clients may see the colours once or twice, but once they’re done working with you, they won’t care! This means, their opinion isn’t really that important, right? Wrong!
Yes, you can allow your own style and personal likes to influence your colour choices, but how are you going to draw your audience in? You want to attract them and colours and imagery are the first things to grab attention. So yes, you can go with your favourite colour, but be aware of the consequences.
And it is not only your audience that can influence your colour choices. Everything in your brand strategy has a say in what colours are going to represent your brand, draw an audience in, and convert that audience into paying clients.
Here is a very quick overview using the three sections of a brand strategy and each of their three parts.
LITERAL COLOUR CHOICES FROM YOUR POSITIONING
Target Audience. You want to draw people in and you can do so by using their subconscious against them (or for them) and make them connect specific feelings and thoughts to your brand colours. Remember that question of what’s your favourite colour? everybody asked as kids. Ask it again now.
Market Analysis. When you are looking at your competitors, you want to be able to stand both amongst them and stand out from them. This can be tricky to do, but there are other parts of your strategy that can help you strike this balance. The thing is, you want to know what your competitors are doing.
Awareness Goals. Consider where your colours are going to be used and how. It is important to note that there are different colour modes and some colours that can appear digital but not in print. Read my article on Differentiating colour modes and learning the colour alphabet for more info here.
ABSTRACT COLOUR CHOICES FROM YOUR CORE
Purpose. When we talk about purpose, we are talking about your brand’s reason for existing. For some brands, this can have a huge influence on your colours and for others, it can be minimal. I want you to consider not only the purpose of your brand but the purpose of your industry and why it exists. What are the feelings (and colours) associated with it?
Values. This one is one of my personal favourites for choosing colours. Every single value that you place on your brand, whether an individual word or an indescribable sensation, has some type of meaning behind it. And that meaning can usually be translated into motivational posters and inspiration. That means images, meaning colours.
Vision and Mission. When we are talking about your brand’s ambitions, take an abstract look at how high and achievable they are. I want you to think of the humble I want to help 10 people this year versus the optimistic I want to help a million people become millionaires. The feelings you get from reading that have a colour.
SUBCONSCIOUS COLOUR CHOICES FROM YOUR ESSENCE
Personality. This is one of the key sections that can help you when combined with market analysis. Once you know what your competitors are doing and your own brand personality, you can utilize both of these to strike that delicate balance between fitting in (so your audience recognizes you) and standing out (so they choose you).
Voice and Tone. Since this one is geared more towards written content, it can seem like it doesn’t have much of an influence on colours, but that’s not necessarily true. When it comes to your voice and tone, the style that you’ve chosen for these can be linked to specific colours in people’s minds. Consider the connotations.
Language. Similar to voice and tone, the language you choose can give a different feel for colours. Here, it is all about connotation and connecting with your audience on a subconscious level. Think of the people that use the same language as you have (they may not necessarily be your audience) and how they are seen by your audience.
ADDITIONAL COLOUR CHOICES
And yes, while your brand strategy has a big influence on your colours, there are other things. We already talked about personal preference, but take into account cultural differences. This links back to your audience as well, but I want you to think in broad terms here. Look up traditional mourning colours around the world (yes, there are colours other than black) and where the white for a wedding dress comes from.
We also already talked about where you’re going to be using those colours, but aside from thinking digital vs print, also consider your own branding materials. Is your entire website background going to be bubblegum pink because that’s your brand colour? Consider how much of each colour you will be using and where even in something as simple as your logo or setting standards for your photos.
What this all leads to is that choosing your brand colours is not as simple as we may think. Sure, you can ignore all of the research and go with whatever colours you want, but if you do that… I want you to justify it beyond because I like it.