How To Use Color for Branding

Color Psychology

Color psychologically affects our brains in a myriad of ways. It produces emotional responses, influences our perceptions, affects our decision-making processes, and acts as stimulants to our brains.

It has also been found that color can consistently influence age, gender, and cultural demographics in distinct ways. So it’s not surprising that due to its high impact psychological effects, color psychology is widely used in marketing.

One of the most important attributes of color is its ability to change our emotions. When we understand this and learn how to use it, by applying it to the basic principles of design, we can attract and maintain an emotional connection with our target audience.

How to Use Color

Colors create your work’s personality, and this is one of the most important factors in attracting and keeping your buyers or target audience.

It is also important to keep in mind that each color has the ability to not only attract certain demographics, it can also repel others. So before you sit down to design your own color scheme, make sure you know exactly what audience is most interested in your products and services, and start from there.

The other rule to consider is to make your site look great for your customers, not necessarily for you. Although in some cases, you and your target audience may be the same, and you want to attract people who think like you, it’s important to make sure you know exactly who is out there and what they respond to.

Another important factor is to always, always, always be different. Especially being different to your competition. This can be achieved sometimes with just some fine tuning of what the general range of similar suppliers are offering, and other times, to be completely or even radically different.

The critical thing however is to make sure you know your audience and always start there.

The 60-30-10 Rule of Design

If you are working with several colors, there is a remarkably simple model that can be easily applied to designing with color and that is the 60-30-10 Rule of Design. 60% of your color palette should include your main dominant color, 30% contains your secondary color, and 10% should be used for your accent color.

There are other rules of design, and even the 60-30-10 Rule can be broken, but it is a useful, easy to use, and almost fool-proof model to start off with, especially if you are a beginner.

So, where do you start? Using and understanding the color wheel can be most beneficial. There are 2 main ways you can achieve this. Colors can be chosen either from those grouped together on one side of the wheel (analogous) or from opposite sides of the wheel (complimentary). Either way will create harmony and balance in your design.

For example, you may have chosen pink, red, and purple (analogous). These colors all have something in common, they are all derivatives of the color red, and blend well together. I have also used complimentary colors for decorating that can look fabulous together. The main complimentary colors are red/green, blue/orange, or yellow/purple. The 60-30-10 percentages create harmony and balance for you, especially if you want to create a bold and dramatic impact with your work.

If you are just starting out, then follow the 60-30-10 rule and you can't go wrong. Choose your dominant color, secondary and then accent color. The rule will ensure that you will create balance between them.

Please do not be afraid of color. I am a firm believer that all colors can be combined, even radical ones like orange, purple or neons, if they target a specific audience and used in a harmonious and balancing way.

Color vs Neutrals

Colors have personality and emotionally affect the viewer, and because of this emotional response, individual colors will appeal to certain demographics but not to others.

By definition neutrals are technically lacking color. They range from soft browns through to all the various shades of ivory and cream, as well as soft undertones of greens and blues. Neutral tones can be found on the outer circle of the color wheel and are read by the eye as lacking in color. Neutral tones, because they lack color, lack emotions and therefore can be used generically. Even though they are less likely to turn away certain audiences, the downside is that you will have less chance of attracting YOUR target audience as well.

Neutrals can look great and now often associated with style and fashion, however they should be used only where you want your visuals to recede. They play it safe. Color grabs consumers’ attention.

If you want to develop a personality and ultimately a brand for your website, please do not use just neutrals for your site. You can incorporate this into your overall design if you want to but just keep in mind that they will recede.

The Meanings of Colors

To learn about the meanings of individual colors, see my blog post here:

To learn how to find your target market, click here:

About Us

Milleflore Images specializes in photography, graphic design, and stop motion video, with on-trend themes for designers and online marketplace sellers. We love to create imagery, such as product mockups, shop banners, listing videos and social media sets, to help your business grow.

Milleflore Images, the author of these articles, has a Bachelor of Business, diplomas in photography and graphic design, and a background in accounting, marketing, and business consulting.