Intro to Brand Colors: The Ultimate Guide for Businesses

The painter Wassily Kandinsky said, “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” Picking the right brand color palette is not just about choosing colors that look good to you. Your brand colors should represent your company as a whole. 

Like a logo, your audience can gauge your brand personality, aesthetic, and industry from your brand colors! So how can you pick the perfect brand colors for your brand?

We’ll help you come up with the perfect palette by giving you a rundown on colors and their associations, and a beginner-friendly guide on choosing colors that will define and distinguish your brand from others.

Below, we’ll go over:

Let’s dive in!


Brand colors: Why are they important?

Your brand identity is your company’s overarching image, personality, and concept.

We surveyed 2200 entrepreneurs in 50+ countries. We asked them to describe eight different colors in a few words. Here are the typical feelings and qualities respondents connected to these colors.

  • Red: passion, love, blood, power, anger
  • Orange: warmth
  • Yellow: happy, bright, sunshine, light, wealth
  • Green: optimism, life, growth, nature
  • Teal: calm, peace
  • Blue: cool, calm, trust, loyalty, conservative
  • Pink: feminine, youthful
  • Purple: cool, vibrant

A well-developed brand should make your audience feel something when they see you. Since most colors already have emotions tied to them, you can use them to connect your company to specific moods or feelings.

For example, say your brand identity is fun, joyful, and energetic, like a fitness company or snack brand. Warm or neon colors like orange and pink could work well. Think Orangetheory or Smart Sweets.

smart-sweets-brand colors

Source: Smartsweets.com

If your brand experience is calmer and more peaceful, such as a wellness company or loungewear brand, a cooler brand color scheme like green or blue may work better (e.g., Mindmed, Tentree).

tentree brand colors

Source: Tentree.com

Looking for more brand color combinations? Check out the top 50 color combinations to use in 2024.

Color and culture

Culture is another factor to consider when picking brand colors. Factors like politics, history, myths, religion, and language can also impact how your audience perceives specific colors.

Here are a few examples:

  • The color white is purity and perfection, thanks to religion (white wedding dresses) and the mythical idea of the white knight.
  • For other cultures, white is associated with death, ghosts, and phantoms.
  • Red is a lucky color in Chinese culture
  • In Indian culture, red is an auspicious color worn by the bride on her wedding day
  • South Africans associate red with mourning. This is because the red section of the country’s flag represents the blood shed during its struggle for independence.

Narrowing one color down to a single mood or feeling is impossible. But it’s still important to understand these cultural and emotional associations as they can color (pun intended) how people see your brand.

How to choose a brand color scheme

1. Brush up on color combinations

color wheel and color combinations

Remember that color wheel we mentioned? With the help of color theory, you can understand the relationship between different colors and create a strong brand color palette for your company that works every time:

types of color combinations

  • Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel, like red and green or blue and orange. You often see this color palette in the food and beverage industry as it stands out on store shelves or street signs (e.g., Fanta, Heineken, Mountain Dew, Taco Bell).
  • Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel, like red, orange, and yellow or blue and purple. Analogous brand color palettes often have a dominant color, a supporting color, and an accent color (E.g., Mastercard, BP).
  • Triadic colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel and often make for very bright and dynamic color palettes. The visual contrast and harmony can help your brand pop (e.g., Burger King, Popsicle).
  • Monochromatic colors are different shades and depths of the same hue. These color schemes can be simple to create and look very harmonious (e.g., Oreo, PayPal, Shopify).

Through AI, Looka’s Logo Maker produces color variations of your logo that better complement each other and pass color contrast tests. These color combinations ensure your symbol, brand name, and slogan are easily legible and look great!

brand colors generator looka

Try out some brand colors for free!

2. Check out your competition

When you look at other brands in your industry, ask yourself: What colors are dominant and why? Then, think about how you can differentiate yourself but still align with your industry.

Tip: Make a list of your top 10 competitors and place them on a moodboard to see your industry in a snapshot.

For example, Lyft, a competitive ridesharing app to Uber, has a bright pink logo – starkly contrasting Uber’s simple black and white color palette.

By picking such a vibrant color, Lyft creates brand recognition and positions itself as a more fun and youthful alternative to Uber. They also stand out more as an app logo on your phone!

3. Align your brand personality to your audience’s needs

Visa brand colors

If your brand was a person, how would you describe them? Are you bubbly and fun? Or more serious and professional? There’s no right or wrong answer, but the brand colors you pick should match your brand personality and overall aesthetic.

Tip: Make a list of 5 adjectives to describe your brand. Use these as guiding principals (and keywords) when finding color inspiration.

You can also use brand colors to highlight how you serve your audience. For example, the legal industry can be somewhat conservative and aloof, but Contracts Market’s bright color palette immediately makes the brand more approachable and accessible.

4. Get brand color inspiration

Now that you understand how colors impact the perception of your brand, it’s time to create a moodboard that hones in on some brand color ideas! Here are some tips and tools to help create a great color palette.

  • Create moodboards. Use Pinterest, Behance, or Instagram to get inspired by other brands and get visual direction on what palettes you like. We’ve listed some later on!
  • Use a brand colors generator. Apps like Coolers, Color Hunt, Muzli Colors, Adobe Color, and Color Space make the process fun and simple by allowing you to build a full palette from a single color.
  • Get inspired by nature. From sunsets, beach scenes, and fresh flowers, beautiful color combinations often surround us. Use an app like Adobe Capture to pull out color palettes from your favorite photos.
  • Experiment with colors. Try various logo color combinations on Looka’s logo maker to see what resonates the most with your brand vision.
We had a designer create professional brand color palettes for you to get inspired by. Check them out further below!

Looka automatically applies color combinations that work well together based on the look you select. As you can see below, brand colors can make your brand look modern and luxurious, or quirky and fun.

5. Create your brand color palette

Keeping in mind that your brand color palette should have two to six colors maximum, here are some brand color formulas to help you create a great color palette:

1.  One main color: Companies like IBM, Spotify, and Apple keep things simple by having one striking primary brand color.

apple brand colors example

2. One main and one accent color: Brands like McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Ikea kick things up a notch with their dual-color brand palettes.

pepsi brand colors example

3. One main color and 3-4 accent colors: Slack, Microsoft, and Burger King have more complex but memorable color palettes by pairing a bold signature color with complementary accent colors.

slack brand colors example

4. Try the 60-30-10 rule: Google, Facebook, and Amazon consist of three main colors, with one serving as the dominant color, covering about 60% of the branding, while the two other colors account for the remaining 30% and 10%.

Check out these 50 logo color combinations to inspire your next design!

Brand color palette inspiration

We had a designer look through top color trends to give you professional, designer-approved brand colors (with HEX codes!). Check them out and save the ones you like!

1. Modern brand colors

modern brand color palettes

2. Bold brand colors

Bold brand color palettes

3. Vintage brand colors

vintage brand color palettes

4. Quirky brand colors

quirky brand color palettes

5. Sophisticated brand colors

sophisticated brand color palettes

Famous examples of brand colors

Many of the world’s most successful and influential brands are recognizable from their brand color palette alone. But what makes their brand colors so iconic? It often comes down to how brands use colors’ emotional and cultural meanings to highlight key aspects of their company’s personality or mission. Let’s dive into some examples!

1. Tiffany & Co.

The iconic light Robin’s egg blue, also known as Pantone 1837, is a highly recognizable color associated with Tiffany & Co. Charles Lewis Tiffany selected it in 1845 for its associations with elegance, sophistication, exclusivity, and luxury. 

tiffany and co brand colors

Source: Pentagram.com

2. Great Jones

Forget the usual reds and blues you see everywhere else in the cookware space; Great Jones has flipped the script, aiming for a vibe that’s as cozy as grandma’s kitchen but with a modern twist. They’re all about shades like blueberry, broccoli, mustard, and taffy.

“The branding uses vintage colors, lush illustration and witty messaging to resonate emotionally with consumers and tap into the nostalgia of cooking as a communal activity.” Pentagram, Brand Design Agency

Great jones kitchen ware

Their philosophy is simple but genius: make cookware that sparks joy. They’re not just about functionality; they want their stuff to make you smile whenever you use it. By embracing these vibrant, nostalgic colors, Great Jones is making their mark in a sea of bland cookware.

3. Starbucks

starbucks brand colors

Starbucks states on their creative website:

“Our green is iconic. Visible for blocks. It’s our most identifiable asset, from the color of our aprons to our logo.”

As a food and beverage company, Starbucks’ more subdued and natural green color palette stands out from competitors like Mcdonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, which use warmer red and orange tones.

4. Netflix

netflix brand colors guidelines

Netflix’s brand is one of the most recognizable and memorable streaming platforms out there, in no small part thanks to its signature bright red brand color.

Red is the color of love and pleasure, as well as hate and anger. Since Netflix is in the entertainment business, red relates to the emotional highs and lows people feel when they watch a good movie or television show. It’s also the color of stage curtains, old movie theatre seats, and red carpets.

Where should you put your brand colors?

Short answer: everywhere! You should use your brand colors for any digital or physical assets related to your business, such as:

Remember: your brand colors are a part of your company’s visual identity. If you want your audience to associate your brand with your brand colors (like Ikea or Starbucks), then you should use your brand colors anywhere your brand ‘shows up’ – online or in real life.

Show your true brand colors

Colors can inspire certain feelings and moods. They can also connect us to our histories and cultures. In short, they can be pretty powerful tools in your creative arsenal – if you use them wisely.

So when picking a brand color palette, keep all these factors in mind, but don’t forget to have fun! Get creative and play with different colors until you find the right combination for your brand.

FAQs

What are brand colors?

Brand colors are the hues and shades chosen by a company to represent its brand across all channels, from logos to websites and packaging. They’re more than just pretty colors, though—they’re like a brand’s DNA, shouting out its vibe and values loud and clear.

What are the top brand colors?

According to Carleton University, the top brand colors are blue (especially dark blue), red, and black. Why exactly?

  • Blue is considered versatile, dependable, and oh-so-trustworthy. It’s no wonder many big brands, from tech giants like Facebook and LinkedIn to banks like Citibank and Bank of America, swear by shades of blue to convey reliability and professionalism.
  • Red: is the color of passion, energy, and action. It grabs attention like no other and screams, “Look at me!” Whether a bold logo or a flashy ad, red is about making a statement. Some examples include Coca-Cola, Target, and Netflix.  
  • Black: Time to go sleek and stylish! Black is the epitome of elegance and sophistication. It’s the go-to choice for brands that want to exude class and luxury without saying a word. Think Chanel’s sleek black-and-white branding or Apple’s minimalist black-and-white aesthetic. 

How do I choose my brand colors?

  1. First, think about your brand’s vibe and values. What makes you, well, you? Let your personality shine through. 
  2. Next, consider your audience; what makes them tick? Peek at your competitors, but don’t get caught up in their colors. Be bold, be unique – that’s how you make your mark.
  3. Dive into color theory to choose shades that pack an emotional punch. Pick ones that speak your brand’s message loud and clear. 

What is the rule for branding colors?

The 60-30-10 rule, also known as the rule for branding colors, is the secret sauce for creating killer color schemes! Here’s how it works – 60% of your visuals rock the dominant color, 30% flaunt its complementary buddy, and a cheeky 10% (if you fancy) sport an accent color.

Why does it matter? Well, it’s all about finding that sweet spot for balance and harmony in your brand’s look. Think of it as the magic ingredient that makes your brand pop and easy to spot in a sea of competitors.

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