How to choose your brand colors

I have recently written a blog post about the power of using one bold color for your brand consistently. I used the example of Tiffany and some other companies who use just one color really well.

Recently I got the question how to choose this one color? And what to do when the color you want to use is already used by a brand that is much bigger than you are?

So in this blog post I want to write about how I choose colors for a brand and if you want to use only one or two main colors, how to make sure you are choosing the right one.

How-to-choose-your-brand-colors | MNFL Design

Research

I always start my branding process - which includes choosing the right colors - with research. I have a detailed questionnaire which asks questions about the idea behind the business, the mission and vision statement, the target customer, the products and price range as well as who the competition is, among other things. I also always ask for 10 adjectives that best describe the feel of the brand they want to create.

Ideal audience

It is very important to really think about who the customer is and to determine the ideal audience for the business. Then you can be ‘talking’ to that customer with everything you do.


You can download my checklist to determine your ideal customer here for free.

How to choose your brand colors | MNFL Design

What others are doing

And it is very important to really know your competition. What is their logo? What colors are they using? What is their message? What is their price point? What is their marketing strategy? What is their story? Where are they selling?

These are just a few points to remember.

Inspiration

Moodboard

For every brand I also create a moodboard which reflects the look and feel of the brand and business. For this moodboard I usually ask my clients to pin images on Pinterest that reflect the vision they have for their brand.

Subconsciously everyone will pin the right images. You can choose one image or 20. It does not matter as long as they all bring across the image and feel of your brand.

If you choose many, there will always be similarities in color and style as well as shapes.

I always take my initial client meeting, the answers from the questionnaire, the images on Pinterest but also any existing branding into account and create a moodboard for the business.

This moodboard serves as an overall design direction and helps me and my clients to stay on track.

And most importantly, for this post, the moodboard will give you the answer to choosing the right colors for your brand!

Choosing colors

When collecting inspiration images you will choose images with the right colors, style, mood and action that bring across the feeling you want to create with your brand.

In order to create a cohesive moodboard you then need to choose images from your initial selection that fit together in color, tone and style.

Now you can basically pick any color from that moodboard for your brand colors.

They will most likely fit. However it is of course a trial and error.

You can do this with a design program like Illustrator which has a color picker. Or you can upload the image to a free software like for example: https://coolors.co/ and they will recommend colors for you that fit to this image.

I would always recommend to choose 2-3 primary colors and then add an additional 2-5 secondary colors.

The primary colors are used for your logo and all main elements of your branding. For example headings, your shopping bags, product packaging etc.
For a logo it is best to keep it minimal to about 1-2 colors, may be 3.

The secondary colors you can use for your website and any other marketing materials in a less prominent way, for example for links on your website.

AIM of your colors

When choosing your colors you also need to think about the aim of these colors. What do you want to achieve with the use of colors? A feeling? Or pure recognition? Do the colors need to reach the right audience? Or does it not matter as it is really just about being noticed?

It will probably be a combination of both. But it is always worth determining. You will see with an example below that colors can be chosen for pure recognition and work perfectly.

Competition

You need to check your competition and who else is using your chosen colors. Is anybody using the exact same colors? If so in which way? In this case I would choose different tones or completely different colors.

If it is another company in a different industry you can choose the same colors as you will probably be recognized completely different.

Saying that if you choose the color from one very big and known brand, you might want to think about whether this brand is in a totally different industry and secondly if there is enough benefit in using this color vs being mistaken for that bigger brand?! For example would you use the Tiffany blue?

Determine color usage

Once you have chosen your brand colors, I would also determine how and where you want to use each color.

For example one color for your product packaging, one color only for headings, one color for all text on Instagram images, one color for all links on your website, or a color for the background of your website.

Do you want to use your colors boldly as a background color for your shopping bags and sales material? Shall your company cars have your colors? Or just the advertisement on cars? Or do you want to use your colors in a subtle way?

I would recommend to write down some key points on how and where to use which color. And then also design mock up samples. It helps to stay consistent later on!

Using just one color

And you can also determine that you want to use just one (or two) main color(s)!

I have written a blog post about choosing just one main brand color and owning it. If you do this well and consistently, it is fantastic for your brand recognition and works much faster than other brand assets.

When choosing this one color you go about like I explained above by creating a moodboard first. Then you pick one color and make sure that this color will represent your brand values and the feeling you want to create.

Choosing just one color can make a great impact - especially by using it really everywhere!

I have given a few examples in my other blog post but I wanted to mention one more company here in Dubai. It is a maintenance company and their color is purple and yellow letters. I am sure this is purely to get attention and for brand recognition and there is no deeper meaning behind the color choice. But it works really well and they use it in a very consistent way.

This is their website and you can see that they use it also for their cars and uniforms

Choosing one color for your brand | MNFL Design
Choosing one color for your brand | MNFL Design

 

We have another company here in Dubai that uses purple really well and that is in a totally different industry. It is a nail spa and beauty salon. Their purple is slightly different but still they are using it in a very bold way.

These two companies will never be mistaken for one another because of their different industries but also because of the ways they use the color. And they have also paired the purple with a different second color.

Have a look for yourself.

How to choose one color for your brand | MNFL Design
How to choose one color for your brand | MNFL Design

 

I hope this gave you a good overview on how to choose colors for your business. Do let me know in the comments if you have any questions or feedback!

xx Emilia


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