Want to make a big impression for just a small investment of time? Find two brand colors to associate with your business and your brand will suddenly be:
- Easy to recognize and remember
- Simple to apply consistently
Color, after all, is free to use on the web. And color printing is less expensive than ever.
But how should you go about building a color palette for your business?
With millions of colors available, where do you start?
Forget yourself — think of your prospects
Like all good marketing decisions, this one starts with the people you want to reach.
Think about the products they’re already attracted to, and like to buy. What colors do those products, brands or websites use?
You don’t want to copy them exactly, of course, but use them as a starting point for your own brand color choices.
Think about the colors they already associate with your product category. Are there obvious color associations already ingrained in your culture? For example, in the culture here in the US:
- Organic products often use greens — either dark, mid-tone or bright — to evoke nature.
- Cosmetic products and services frequently use tones of red.
- Banking and financial service firms regularly rely on blue tones to express their brands.
If there are obvious associations with your product category that are already out there, don’t fight them — use them!
Choose two colors to emphasize
As I’ve said on these pages before, using two main colors is the best way to make your brand colors memorable. Color palettes with too many colors are difficult to recognize and remember.
That’s why most sports teams have two main colors, and so do most big brands.
Choosing two main brand colors will make it easier for your prospects and customers to remember them, and easier for you to apply them consistently.
Combine similar colors or opposites
The next step is to grab the nearest color wheel, and decide which strategy you’ll use.
What’s that? You don’t have a color wheel handy? Here’s a color wheel and some color guidance you can download immediately.
I recommend you choose one of these strategies:
Choose colors that are “neighbors” on the color wheel. If they exist in the same “ring” they’ll be similarly intense. If they’re next to each other or just a couple of notches over, they’ll look related and will blend well.
Choose colors that are opposites on the color wheel. Again, stick to colors that are in the same “ring” so their intensity is similar. Using opposites together adds instant electricity to your brand color palette.
Apply color sparingly
The trick to making color work is to apply it sparingly.
Think of it like a condiment you’ll add to a dish you’re cooking. Too much of any one condiment will overwhelm the other flavors in the dish. That’s the way it is with color.
Use it to “spice up” graphics and text you want to draw attention to, but don’t scatter your readers’ attention by sprinkling color all over.
7 thoughts on “How to Choose Two Brand Colors for Your Business”
I often get stuck with the right color combination… Now, thanks to the color wheel. 🙂 This is really a great help Pam!!!
I’m glad it’s helpful, Vince. Thanks for the comment!
I hate to admit it but I have always had difficulty with creating a good color scheme. I seem to float back and forth between to much and not enough. I have come to the realization, and this article helps reassure me that a little can be a lot as long as the contrasts are not to strong, yet enough to grab attention without distracting.
The tendency here lately of everything being black/dark is something I haven’t understood either, most templates out there now are tending toward this trend, right or not I tend to fight the trends. Is this the way to be or is trend fighting a bad thing?
Unless you’re a fashion retailer, you can usually ignore color trends. It’s more important to be tuned into what your ideal customer will respond to. So feel free to fight the trend and choose the colors you believe will work best!
Thanks Pamela! I have to tell you, that is how I thought. It never fails though that I have aquaintenances or firends make comments or suggestions pointing to the templatized layouts that are popular at the time.
It is I suppose if one thinks about it, an interestin psychological aspect of things in one perspective. Given a large majority of what people are used to seeing that is what they perhaps come to expect or view as a standard and those things not conforming create an imbalance which would definitely serve the purpose of drawing attention.
Sorry if I am sounding korny here 🙂 It has just always seemed to me that being a bit different was a positive thing in marketing. Seems you feel the same way as well as long as it is within the right parameters?
It’s sort of like wearing a brightly-colored tie to a networking event. It helps you stand out in a good way, right?
Now if you wore a brightly-colored bathing suit, on the other hand, you wouldn’t get the kind of attention you’re looking for.
So being a bit different is good, but being off the charts different is probably not a good idea. 😉
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