Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Color Theory in Branding...

Do the colors of your logo, website and marketing/advertising materials help to better connect with your audience?

Red and yellow and pink and green; purple and orange and blue... I can sing a rainbow... la la la... you know the rest. Colors. There are many of them... and you have your favorites... but which colors work best for which brands... and ultimately for your business? To answer this question, you need to learn a little about basic color theory... mainly the color wheel, color harmony, color context and the meaning of colors.


1. The color wheel is made up of 3 primary colors: red, yellow and blue. All other colors are derived from the primary colors. Secondary colors orange, green and purple – are formed by mixing the primary colors. Tertiary colors are created when primary and secondary colors are mixed, and have names that combine both colors: red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange. 

You can further divide the color wheel into 2 sections... warm colors that denote energy and creativity; and cool colors that are more calming and serene. 

Now, if you add white to a pure color it becomes a tint. If you add black, it is referred to as a shade. Adding gray to the pure color creates a tone of the color.

2. Color harmony results when combining color arrangements that are pleasing to the eye... creating balance. There are a few different basic color harmonies. The complementary color scheme utilizes 2 colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. Analogous color schemes use 3 colors that are located nest to each other on the color wheel that match well.The triadic color scheme uses 3 colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel and are usually pretty vibrant. 

3. Color context refers to how the color behaves in relation to the other colors it is paired with. For instance, a red square looks different on a black background when compared to a white background. Some colors "ring" when placed together, some combinations look dull while other combinations compete. 

To see samples of color context in action, go to

4. Color meanings. All colors evoke emotion when viewed... and you want to use the colors that will best define your brand. Here is a short list of what each color means: 

                Red: Passion, love, rebellion, power, excitement, bold, danger 
                Yellow: Happiness, fun, alert, friendly, young, summer 
                Green: money, natural, abundance, environmental, safe 
                Blue: smart, progressive, trust, cold, tech
                White: open, clean, pure, sterile 
                Orange: inviting, retro, warm, energy, creative
                Purple: stylish, elegant, royal, decadent, luxurious, wise 
                Brown: stable, reliable, approachable, organic 
                Gray: Timeless, practical, intelligent, neutral 
                Black: authoritative, powerful, classic, sophisticated 
                Pink: romance, happiness, light-hearted, confident, passionate

So which colors best represent your brand? Does your brand currently utilize colors that work? Need help in deciding? Your best bet is to hire a design professional who is skilled and trained to develop color schemes that will best enhance your brand's message.

Speaking of color... 

Pantone recently announced its choice for color of the year... 

... calling it "Lively, Radiant. Lush... A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony." For more info, read on:

We tend to agree... and think it works especially well with the upcoming St. Patrick's Day holiday... so get your green or blue or red, etc... on!