You may be not be feeling 100% confident in your brand. You may feel there is something not-quite-right but you can’t put your finger on it. You may be spending 10000 hours in Canva trying to design stuff and still aren’t happy. You may not be getting as many new customers or as much engagement on social as you’d hoped.
There may be a problem with your brand’s colour palette.
Choosing or refining your brand’s colour palette is a multi-faceted decision. Colours play a significant role as part of your brand, they help communicate what you do and what your company values are. Being consistent with your colours across all of your communications takes a bit of thought and organization but once you’ve nailed it, you can gain brand recognition, an important part of converting strangers into customers.
Colours have feelings
Choosing your brand colours isn’t easy. There are literally millions of colors out there- how do you make a choice? The first place that you start is by asking yourself “how do I want people to feel about my company”? Are you a spa? Neon pink might not be a great choice. Are you hoping to appeal to punk bands? Bright green and purple is awesome. While you may want to pick colours you like, it is more important that the colours you choose reflect how you want people to feel about your company. There are no hard and fast rules but it’s best if you are in the right ball park.
Colours = numbers
Once you’ve matched how you want people to feel and the colours you are using, you need to nail down the exact colours you want to use moving forward. How do you capture the exact colour? It’s not a name or a shade- it’s a number. And depending on the purpose, you may need a different number. There are 4 main colour values you need to know and you should capture all 4 values per colour you choose.
- RGB (Red, Green, Blue): numerical values (max 255) corresponding to each letter. Used in digital applications like Microsoft Word/Powerpoint etc (try a custom colour!).
- HEX (aka web): alpha-numeric representation with 6 characters. Used in digital applications like Canva, Google Slides, websites.
- CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key [black]): numerical values (max 100) corresponding to each letter. Is the % of each type of ink that is overlayed on a printing press to create that colour.
- Pantone: pre-mixed ink created by a private company with accompanying swatch books that can replace printing in CMYK.
Figuring out all of your colours will takes some patience and may take some judgment from a professional graphic designer. While there are converters out there, especially when working with print, it can be tricky. What you see on a screen may not be what comes out of a printing press. Tread carefully!
How many colours is too many?
Short answer: 4-5 tops.
Longer answer: as you are matching feelings to colours, you don’t want to confuse your customer by trying to communicate too many things at once. You’ll also want a few different colours to play with while designing and 1 accent colour to use sparingly. Ideally all the colours you choose should be present in your logo so if you have too many, your logo may be too busy.
This great tool, Adobe colour, helps you choose 5 colours based on existing colour harmony rules and is a great place to start.
Get organized to get customers
The best practice is to write down all of your colour values and pass that information on to whoever is designing your communications. If it’s just you, stick it on the front of a binder or tack it on your office wall.
Using your unique combination of colours/fonts/shapes/style over and over again is how you gain brand recognition. Brand recognition helps people trust you and may convert strangers into customers.
Want a neat place to write it all down? Check out my free brand guide.