When designing a logo or brand identity for a client, the first step that I make after receiving the design brief is to create a moodboard and color palette. This establishes the overall direction and style, and guides the whole design process.
Colors are a very important element in a brand identity. They bring an immediate emotional quality to any design element. The brain responds to color the same way it responds to pleasure or pain: it’s immediate, primal. Choosing your color palette should be made with a lot of careful thought.
Color choices can’t be made entirely objectively, but one should always strive to make color choices that add up to more than a gut reaction (or you know, “my favorite color is peach so I want it on my logo”).
How do you choose an effective color palette?
- Define your brand message. The first step is being clear about your brand – what words would you use to describe it? (elegant, fun, sophisticated, ethereal, modern, minimal, high-end, warm, relaxed, whimsical, calm, earthy, rustic, bold, etc ) Choose the colors that convey these characteristics.
- Describe your ideal client. Who is your ideal client? What is he/she interested in? What color palette will they be drawn to? Remember that your ultimate goal is to persuade your ideal client that you are the right fit. What do you want them to feel when they look at your brand?
- Study your industry. Are there any industry standards or expectations for color choices? (e.g. I haven’t seen a bank with a pink & rose gold color palette yet.) You want to make sure that your brand will stand out, but also stay within what’s acceptable. But you can also opt to zag instead of zig, so it’s best to know what rules you can break. For example, for the longest time orange was thought of as a fast food industry color. But Hermès has broken that rule so effectively.
- Inject your personality. What are your own color preferences? We all have our own favorites. Just be aware that your favorites may not work for your brand at all. Maybe the color tones can be changed a bit, or you can inject one or two as secondary colors. Just don’t make this your primary reason for selection.
Choosing an effective color palette for your brand isn’t as simple as picking out your favorite colors. It’s a carefully thought out process that involves considering what you like, what your clients will respond to, what your industry expects, and most of all, what you want your brand to project. Aside from those, you also need to consider current trends, cultural connotations, and color psychology.
Do you have any color questions? Post it in the comments!