How to Choose The Right Color For Your Brand

Posted on March 28, 2011

Just as a country’s flag represents the specific identity of a people, so, too, the color of a logotype defines the character of a corporation. It is instantly recognized by everyone and conveys a certain message. Choosing the right color for your brand is very important because this specific color represents your business’ attributes. There are companies who specialize in brand training and they can be exceptionally useful at making sure whatever color you use in your logo accurately reflects the message you want to send.

Color is a Powerful Branding Tool

What is the color of your brand? Color plays an important role and says a lot about you and your brand. Take as an example the Google logo. We can instantly recognize it from its characteristic colors.

What would the Google logo be without its current colors? What if it was colored gray?

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While Google’s logo gallery features 1002 logos that include all these humorous cartoon modifications that we see on holidays, and major events, we all know that the combination of the blue, yellow, red and green letters is the distinctive symbol of this major search engine.

Color Bolsters Your Branding Attributes

Think of IBM, a company that is synonymous with Big Blue. Blue shows a sense of security and reliability. IBM’s blue logo, designed in 1972, makes a distinctive statement about the company’s expertise, innovation, service and trust, thereby reinforcing its strength in the industry. It is a great example of a simple, yet attractive and powerful emblem.

Color Enables Brand Recognition

How do you recognize your favorite brands? The color establishes the identity of business in the eyes of the client more than the actual letters within the logo. Think for a moment a few well-known brands, like Hertz, Avis, National Car Rental and Alamo. You instantly recognize their logo from a long distance because of their unique color.

Color Evokes Emotion

How true is that, indeed! A woman’s heart rate is said to increase when she is holding a Tiffany light blue box. Tiffany’s color is so important to the brand, they trademarked it.

Tiffany’s Blue Book catalogue was first published in 1878. It’s unique color is now known worldwide as Tiffany Blue, and has become an international symbol of style and sophistication.

Color Helps You Stand Out of Competitors

UPS is instantly recognized by its brown trucks. “What can brown do for you?”, was UPS’ former advertising slogan. The question is synonymous to “what can UPS do for you?”.

Companies use colors to express their brand attributes. You can do the same for your personal brand. However, be careful, the question you need to ask when choosing your brand’s color is not: “What is my favorite color?” Instead, the right question is: “What color best expresses my personal brand attributes?”

When I started my diet blog which have diet coupons and discounts I thought I would use a blue colored theme because that is my favorite color. I later realized that using a green color would better convey my message of health, relaxation, healing, weight loss, and youth.

So, What Color Is Your Brand?

Use BLUE, if your brand expresses authority, reliability, truth, intelligence, confidence, loyalty, integrity, wisdom, peace and/or trust.

What famous candy brand used the color blue to revitalize an aging product? M&M’s has been producing their colorful button-shaped candies in brown, yellow, green, orange and red colors since 1941. In 1995, they first introduced the blue color in their candies as an expression of their brand’s continuity, loyalty and authority in the market.

Use GREEN, if your brand expresses optimism, growth, relaxation, fertility, spring, nature, rebirth, luck, healing, youth and/or environment.

What brand boasts weekly sales of millions of bright green bottles filled with fresh-smelling hair care products? Garnier Fructis hair care products are designed to protect and strengthen the hair to reveal its life, beauty, and shininess. They are widely known for their green color that communicates growth, fertility and rebirth.

Use YELLOW if your brand expresses happiness, energy, caution, sunshine, warmth, joy, intellect, light, warning, and/or vision.

What city is often associated with yellow, thanks to the high number of its taxis? New York City of course! Over 12,000 yellow cabs have linked NYC to the color yellow.

Use ORANGE if your brand expresses competition, energy, force, success, encouragement, determination, productivity, potency, and/or vitality.

When my brother Alex, a certified residential energy performance inspector, launched his online venture of energy performance certificates in N. Ireland, he deliberately chose orange as the brand color of his business. He never regretted it!

Use RED if your brand expresses action, desire, passion, determination, power, potency and/or love.

What brand’s red color can be seen on vending machines, billboards and ads all over the world? Coca-Cola’s red color is instantly recognized everywhere.

Use PURPLE if your brand expresses royalty, ambition, spirituality, mysticism, dignity, mystery, inspiration, wealth, magic, and luxury.

What popular rock star uses purple to brand his name? Prince, of course. In fact, his 6th album is named “Purple Reign” and is ranked among the best albums in the rock music history.

What is your color brand? Have you associated your business with a color?


32 Replies to "How to Choose The Right Color For Your Brand"

  • Charles W. Singleton
    March 28, 2011 (11:59 am)
    Reply

    It may not seem like a big deal but selecting the right colors for your company brand,logo is very important. You may want to evoke certain feelings from clients by selecting colors that match the goal of your brand as Matthew detailed in the post. Or you can go against the grain and select unique color concepts to ensure you stand out from competitors.

    Good stuff Matthew.

    Charles W. for WEALTHfaire

  • Matthew
    March 28, 2011 (2:19 pm)
    Reply

    Hi Charles,

    Thank you for your comment. I like it when I see brands that choose unique color compositions to ensure uniqueness.

  • Justin
    March 28, 2011 (2:58 pm)
    Reply

    Great post, Matthew. Welcome to the team! I looked deeply at color when I launched my biz and choose a deep blue and dark red. Similar to Delta airlines actually. I wanted to convey some of the same things, but not be knows for poor service and late flights. 😉

    I’ve even worked with a designer to bring the same look and feel into my office.

    It’s not enough just to go with a combo you like, you have to think about how your market will perceive your brand.

    • Matthew
      March 28, 2011 (4:58 pm)
      Reply

      True Justin,

      colors elicit specific psychological responses from people. So, businesses need to link their attributes and values to the right color.

      Thank you for your nice comment.

    • Matthew
      March 28, 2011 (5:00 pm)
      Reply

      This is true Justin,

      I believe colors elicit specific psychological responses from people. So, businesses need to link their attributes and values to the right color.

      I enjoyed your comment.

  • Alex Papa
    March 28, 2011 (3:00 pm)
    Reply

    Hi Matthew, You have put so much work and research into this article. It was very interesting to see what different colors express and why/how huge companies picked their colors. Alex

  • steven
    March 28, 2011 (4:21 pm)
    Reply

    Great article Matthew, very interesting, indeed. Picking up the right color for your business is surely a substantial factor for your branding effect. It’s something I also thought about extensively when I launched my own software review blog. Thanks.

  • Matthew
    March 28, 2011 (4:55 pm)
    Reply

    Hi Alex,

    thank you for your nice comment. I am sure the color of big brand names has been very well thought through.

  • Hector Avellaneda
    March 28, 2011 (10:43 pm)
    Reply

    Matthew – great post! I’m glad I went with green. My blog definitely stands for most, if not all, of the traits that characterize this color!

    I definitely think that color is important. It’s a part of your over all brand and I definitely believe that at a subconscious level people understand what traits are represented in your organization by the color you choose.

    Great read!

  • David Guzman
    March 29, 2011 (1:15 am)
    Reply

    Hi Matthew,

    I just wanted to echo the general consensus on a well-written post about the effect of color on branding! I recalled some of these from an advertising course I took a few semesters back, but it is great to have all of the primary and secondary colors listed next to common brand attributes that they evoke.

    Looking forward to more great posts to come!

    Welcome to the team!

    -David

    • Matthew
      March 29, 2011 (2:03 pm)
      Reply

      Hi David,

      thank you for your encouragement. As Hector said, whether people realize it or not, colors have power. It is fortunate when we, as business owners, harness this power to the advantage our venture.

  • Audrey Mora
    March 29, 2011 (3:28 am)
    Reply

    I really like this post about brand color. It gives me an overview why associating your business with color is important. thanks for the share.

  • Samuel
    March 29, 2011 (10:07 am)
    Reply

    Awesome post Mat,
    I really don’t know much about this 🙂 This post really give me an insight on how to use color to brand my business. Thanks so much for sharing! You rock 🙂

    • Matthew
      March 30, 2011 (2:23 am)
      Reply

      Hi Sam,

      Nice to see you! Yes, this article may be a good guide to help you take the first steps in linking your brand to specific colors

  • Praveen@Techperk
    March 29, 2011 (2:38 pm)
    Reply

    Yes. Colors play an important role in Brand recognition. It was very interesting to know the reasons for selection of brand colors by BIG companies. This post gives me an idea of different colors to be used for brand names. Thanks for your post.

  • Wes Towers@Graphic Design Melbourne
    March 30, 2011 (2:01 am)
    Reply

    Hi, Matthew. Great stuff you have here. As a graphic and web designer who is into the psychology of colours, I very much agree with what you have written here. I have always been recommending to my clients that they use colours that will speak to the emotions of their target market. I am using the colours blue and orange for my business website as well because the emotions they evoke.

    • Matthew
      March 30, 2011 (2:26 am)
      Reply

      I visited your site omnificdesign.com.au and the combination of blue and orange looks great!

  • Rakesh Kumar
    March 30, 2011 (9:45 am)
    Reply

    Most times i confused to choose the right color but analyzing these methods, now i can choose easily. Thanks

  • robbie@ Commercial and Industrial Cleaning Iin Birmingham
    April 4, 2011 (9:22 am)
    Reply

    There are some great tips here on how to choose the right colour for your brand. Thank you for the great post it is very informative.

  • Patricia@lavenderuses
    April 8, 2011 (9:05 am)
    Reply

    Hi Matthew

    I always notice the colours on any blog I visit. Mine was a no-brainer really.

    As I blog on all things lavender, then the only colours on my blog are all shades of the lovely lavender 🙂

    And other people do notice how our blogs look. I’ve had lots of people comment on mine.

    Thanks for a really enjoyable and informative post Matthew. Appreciated.

    • Matthew
      April 8, 2011 (11:47 am)
      Reply

      Hi Patricia,

      nice to see you again.

      Yes, I have visited your blog countless times. You chose the most appropriate color. I love it!

      Purple has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious.

      On another note, I have tried to contact you 3-4 times the past 6 months at lavenderuses (at) gmail (dot) com to no avail. Could you please send me an email at matthew (at) weightlosstriumph (cot) com?

      Thank you for your nice comment Patricia.

  • Antoni
    April 11, 2011 (4:03 pm)
    Reply

    Colors and fonts are the two main elements to link your company quickly

  • Audrey J. Sullivan
    April 12, 2011 (11:56 am)
    Reply

    This article is great! I’m currently redesigning our Logo (a restaurant).Much has been said with the color of the logos, and its relative effect on a company’s identity and I plan to incorporate it. Thanks for the info .I will keep everything you said in mind.

  • industrial cleaning melbourne
    April 19, 2011 (12:41 am)
    Reply

    Definitely I believe color is very important for businesses. When I was doing my course in Business I have learned the importance of color importance for brands. thanks for sharing

  • Jason Tweed
    April 22, 2011 (2:02 am)
    Reply

    I’m in the process of rebranding a website. This gives me a lot of insight because I was looking at a mixture of navy blue, forest green, and orange.

    Now I realize that my business should become more focused on the orange color, and use the others as highlight and accent colors.

  • Ashley Casey
    May 4, 2011 (11:14 am)
    Reply

    Great information and simple to understand. I am going to share this with my clients!

  • Luis R.
    May 16, 2011 (1:16 pm)
    Reply

    Great article..It’s amazing to me how many times I turn from designer into consultant with my clients and their crazy color combos.

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