A colour scheme is a range of colours that are used in designing for different media. For businesses, colour schemes are necessary to establish branding. Colours have long been used to evoke emotion and to inspire identity. The colour you choose for your brand affects how your clients see you and interact with your products.

Common brand colours and their meanings.

Blue

Blue is one of the most popular colours for both men and women. This colour which is also the colour of the sky and sea is often associated with calm and security. Blue is often used by financial institutions because it signifies being trustworthy, fiscally responsible and dependable.

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Red

If you want to draw attention, use the colour Red. The eyes are automatically drawn to this colour. This is the colour of passion, movement and energy. People surrounded by the colour red often report an increase in heart rate which is why people associate the colour as being aggressive and on the go. CNN, Victorinox (Swiss Army) and Coca Cola are brands that use red prominently in their branding.

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Black/White

Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and other high end brands use Black and White as their brand colours. Black communicates glamour, luxury and exclusivity. White exudes purity and perfection. These colours work well with expensive products and is often seen as classic, elegant and sophisticated.

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Green

Green is usually tied with nature and life. The darker, deeper green is associated with wealth and privilege. Many regard the lighter, brighter green as a symbol for universal love and youthfulness. Starbucks use the slightly brighter green and is proud of their fair trade policy for sourcing their coffee as well as their campaign for environmentally responsible business.

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Yellow

Yellow exudes optimism and positivity. Brands associate this colour with happiness, friendliness and good times. Best Buy and McDonalds are good examples of brands that use yellow.

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How to choose colours for your brand

What is your brand’s personality? The characteristics of your team, your products and services are a major consideration for choosing your brand colour. How you want to be perceived by your customers dictates how you choose your colours.

Choose a colour that is different from your competitor. One of the purposes of branding is to enable your brand to stand out. Your competitor’s colour is a good reference point for choosing yours. For example, your main competitor uses blue; you may use red or white.

Consider cultural implications. colours have universal meanings but they also have their own cultural implications. For example, while white is universally considered a symbol for purity, some parts of Asia it is associated with death. Where your business is located or where your target demographics should be considered.

Your brand can have more than one colour. You can choose two colours that go well together or choose a variety of colours to make your brand look vibrant and dynamic. Popular examples for these are eBay and Google.

How to use colours

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Monochromatic colours are shades or tint variations of the same hue. Take one single colour and vary its lightness and saturation and you have a monochromatic colour scheme. This scheme is simple to use and since the colours are so closely related to each other it is hard although still possible, to make a mistake.

Another simple colour scheme for brands are analogous colours. These colours sit adjacent each other on the colour wheel. To take a dominant colour and use the other colours as background is how some brands utilize this combination for their branding.

Complementary colours are two colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. This is useful when you want brand colours that pop with vibrancy. To make complementary colours work, pair a warm colour with a cool colour. This type of contrast draws attention.

If you want to avoid the stark contrast of the complementary colours, you can also use a Split complementary (Triadic) colour scheme. This variation uses a strong colour and two colours adjacent to its complementary. You still get the contrast without the strong tension between colours.

Double complementary (Tetradic) colour scheme is used to create a vibrant colour scheme. This is done by using four colours arranged into two complementary colour pairs. This can be hard to harmonize because of the abundance of options. Companies use these colours in different amounts to create a balance yet dynamic branding.

What do you want your customers to associate with your brand? Let us know in the comments below.


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