Branding Basics

Color The First Thing They See

Colors are hard-wired into our lizard brains to form associations and elicit emotion.

When an image is flashed in front of us, our brains notice color before anything else.  

The average viewer perusing a website or social media page is NOT taking everything in.  They’re performing a near-instantaneous assessment of the imagery they’re seeing on the screen as they scroll through.  For digital ads, you’ve got about 1 second to make an impression.

Color Schemes

A color scheme is a set of rules to create color combinations based on properties and desired purpose.  The actual, selected colors (color palette) are chosen, based on a particular scheme.

Your brands colors can create a sense of tension or harmony, balance or chaos.  Your color palette can be cool or warm, muted or vibrant, soothing or clashing, elegant or gaudy.  The possibilities abound but the trick is to choose your colors with a purpose in mind so that they work together to express a desired emotion or effect.

There are an unlimited variety of color schemes but your color palette should be uniquely yours.  You might choose the calm, cool of a monochromatic blue or green, a balanced triadic or a loud tetrad with tons of color choices:

This Triadic Color Scheme is vibrant, with high contrast between 3 colors, split evenly around the color wheel, with no clear dominance of 1 color over the others.

triadic color scheme

Here’s a Complimentary Color Scheme with highly contrasting (clashing) colors.  Look familiar?

complimentary color scheme

Tetrad is an aggressive scheme with high contrast between 4 colors, evenly spaced around the color wheel.  This scheme can be difficult to work with.

The Monochromatic Color Scheme is calm and cool, with low contrast between the colors.

monochromatic color scheme

Color Associations

Color has huge impact and symbolic meaning in our lives.  It invokes physical and emotional reactions in humans and some animals.  It defines cultural norms and is used in religion, politics.  And, of course, color is a primary component of a business organization’s brand.  People draw correlations to color every day—many of the typical associations are shown below.
color wheel with associations

This is not guesswork!

Our branding process involves research, analysis, testing and refining to determine your color palette.  Your brand style guide will include a detailed explanation of your color scheme and palette, with usage guidelines.

Color is just one piece of the branding pie.  We take just as much care when developing all the rest of the audio-visual elements that define how customers will perceive your business.

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