There are three types of people in the world: those that are knowledgeable of color theory, those that learned about it in high school, and those that have never heard of it. When it comes to your business, this is something you have to invest a significant amount of time into because of branding purposes. It’s best to do your due diligence in research to help you decide what your brand colors should be.
The first hurdle (and quite possibly the biggest) in choosing your brand colors is learning (or relearning) all the definitions of the color theory. The second is knowing how each color stimulate and can affect the brain. And somehow you have to sift through all that information to choose the right colors for your business. Don’t you worry though because we’re here to break it down for you.
Color Theory Breakdown
There are three major categories in color theory, which are primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Primary colors are similar to prime numbers, you can’t create them by combining two or more other colors together. They function as your “parent colors”. It’s a good idea to use one or a combination of primary colors to act as your “base”, anchor, or dominant color in your branding.
Your primary colors are:
The next category is secondary colors. These are colors formed when you combine any two of the primary colors. These are your “children” colors. They only work if the color mixtures are used from the purest form of each primary color.
Your secondary colors are:
- Red + Blue = Purple
- Blue + Yellow = Green
- Red + Yellow = Orange
Your last category is tertiary colors, which are a combination of a primary color along secondary color. This is the most difficult category out of all three because not every primary color is able to match with a secondary color. There are only six tertiary colors, so we will break it down for you.
Your tertiary colors are:
- Red + Orange = Vermillion
- Red + Purple = Magenta
- Blue + Green = Teal
- Blue + Purple = Violet
- Yellow + Green = Chartreuse
- Yellow + Orange = Amber
The color theory can keep breaking down after these categories, but this is where it can get a little more difficult and confusing. We will try to keep it as simple as possible, but these words and definitions are generally good to know about for branding. Here’s a list of a few more details and definitions you should know:
- Hue: All primary and secondary colors are known as hues. They are most important when it comes to secondary colors.
- Tint: When you add white to a color you get a different tint to your final color.
- Shade: When you add black to a color you get a different shade to your final color.
- Tone (Saturation): Adding both white and black to a color creates a tone. Tone is typically used when speaking about painting; whereas saturation is used when referring to digital images.
How Do I Choose The Best Brand Colors For My Brand?
It’s best to heavily research your targeted demographic as much as possible. You should know the cultural meaning of certain colors within your target consumer. One of the worst things that could happen to your brand is finding out after launching that your colors are offensive to your desired audience. Other than culture, you should understand the emotional charges that colors have in a person’s brain.
Here are the facts about branding colors and their meanings:
- White = Clean, healthy, virtuous
- Black = Sophisticated, edgy, powerful
- Gray = Subdued, neutrality, gloom
- Brown = Old-fashioned, earthy, rugged
- Red = Attention, passion, importance
- Pink = Femininity, innocence, youth
- Purple = Luxury, royalty, creativity
- Orange = Playfulness, vitality, friendly
- Yellow = Optimism, happiness, warning
- Dark Blue = Formality, professionalism, security
- Light Blue = Tranquility, openness, trust
- Green = Prosperity, nature, stability, growth
This is a simplified list, so we recommend to continue to do your due diligence and research as much as possible. When picking your brand’s color scheme, your brand personality traits and target customers should already be solidified. We recommend that you choose between 1-4 colors for your brand. This is where knowing hues, tints, and shades come in handy.
Once you have chosen your colors, solidify what your base color is. One great principle that works for most companies that pick 3 colors is the 60-30-10 principle. This means that your base color is 60% (primary color), your middle is 30% (secondary color), and your accent color is 10% (anything). You want to have some contrast and visual appeal with these colors, and a simple brand palette looks focused and professional.
You may be at the end of this thinking, “All of this information is nice, but I still have no idea what colors to pick!” Don’t sweat it because there are plenty of resources to choose from in helping you choose the perfect branding colors. Some people utilize free color palette generators online, others choose what’s familiar to them.
It’s always a good idea to play around and experiment. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you’re trying to choose! You could even buy a crayon box or the Home Depot paint aisle to mix and match what you want to try.