These are terms you know, but can you give their exact definition?
In addition to a reminder of terminology, the color theory will allow you to choose the colors that best suit your brand and that will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
But what is the real impact of the colors you choose for your company on the image of your brand?
To better understand this impact, the Reboot marketing agency created logos for five fictitious companies and showed them to participants in their study. After giving them 10 minutes to study the logos, 78% remembered the primary color of the logo and only 43% remembered the company name.
Learning to choose and match colors gives you the confidence and know-how to build a memorable brand image.
Let’s start this refresher on color theory with a classic.
Let’s rediscover the wheel of color theory.
Also known as the color wheel, it’s your cheat sheet for choosing colors that go together well. You may have seen this theory before in science class.
Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram in 1666 as part of his research into the behavior of light. Using a lamp, he passed white light through an optical prism to fragment it into a rainbow of colors. Scientists already knew about this experiment but thought it was the glass that somehow colored the white light. By reflecting the colored beams through another crystal prism, Newton succeeded in reconstituting them in white light. This experiment proved for the first time that colors were building blocks of white light.
Newton’s 12-color color wheel is made of:
- Three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue)
- Three secondary colors (created by mixing the primary colors: green, orange, purple)
- Six tertiary colors (the in-between colors created from the primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-purple)
Understand the concept of warm and cool colors
The color wheel reveals the difference between warm and cool colors.
When splitting the wheel in two, the hot colors (red, orange, yellow) appear on one side of the wheel alongside variations of those colors. These colors are intense, vivid, and vibrant.
The other side of the wheel displays the cool colors, i.e. green, blue and purple. These are more subdued colors that convey a feeling of calm and tranquility.
Classic color combinations should be considered when choosing your brand colors. Colors can have a huge impact on how people feel about your brand when they first see it.
Do you want your brand colors to convey a sense of trust and reliability?
Blue is generally associated with the notions of competence and reliability. A range of blue colors could therefore be suitable for financial institutions, child care organizations, or animal service businesses. In short, this range of colors is suitable for any company that wishes to convey the notions of reliability and security.
Green is generally associated with nature, ecological awareness, and sustainable development. The green color range is also associated with spring and the idea of rebirth. These colors can therefore be considered if you offer educational, wellness, or health services.
Warm colors like red can, for their part, be used to convey the idea of passion or the notion of strength. Red also stimulates the appetite and attracts attention. Brands often play on these active reactions to grab the public’s attention.
Are you organizing a flash sale to sell your stock?
Promotional signs frequently make use of the color red, and there’s a good reason for that. This color does not go unnoticed.
The color orange is an excellent choice for conveying good humor, optimism, or benevolence towards children. It inspires people to act with confidence and conveys a certain enthusiasm.
Yellow is another positive color that is often used to attract attention. Given the connotation of sunny weather associated with it, it is a popular choice in the tourism sector.
Choose your color variations:
Besides the 12 colors on the color wheel, what are the other choices?
This glossary describes the variables that make up the color spectrum:
- Tint: A color lightened by the addition of white.
- Shade: A color darkened by the addition of black.
- Tone: A color made neutral by the addition of gray.
- Hue: Another word for a color.
- Saturation: The intensity of a color (saturated colors are lighter and more vivid).
- Desaturation: Colors that contain less pigment and are more neutral.
- Exposure Index: Refers to the light intensity of a color.
- Neutral colors: Black, white and gray.
Match colors for your brand
The range of colors of your brand will be found on the various communication media of your company. Your logo may contain only one or two colors. But you’ll probably use other colors for your website, storefront, marketing materials, or employee uniforms.
A surefire way to use the 12-color color wheel to choose your color pairings is to refer to color formulas.
Do not panic; You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand how these formulas work.
Here are the basics of color formulas to get you started:
- Monochromatic – Pick a color from the color wheel and adjust saturation and EV to create variations of that color.
- Analogue – Choose three colors next to each other on the color wheel as the basis for your color range. To add color variants, play around with saturation and EV.
- Complementary colors – Choose two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Start with the two opposite colors, then vary these colors by playing with saturation and exposure index.
- Triadic Colors – Choose three colors that are evenly spaced apart and form a perfect triangle on the color wheel. Then vary these colors by playing with the saturation and the exposure index.
Learn the rules that will allow you to bend the rules
Another principle you no doubt learned in school: Rules are meant to be broken.
Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of color theory, use the color formulas above as a starting point for your color experiments.
Take inspiration from the world around you. The sources of inspiration are multiple (nature, advertisements, works of art) and the possibilities are endless. Try to choose images that reflect your brand identity. For example, if you run a mountain bike business, you can inspire yourself of a mountain or sports image.
Choose three or four colors from this image to compose your color palette, and use these colors consistently to build your brand identity.
Implement all these principles
You’ve now mastered the basic techniques for choosing colors for your brand, but there are still a few things to consider when perfecting your color range.
1. Beware of colors that are too bright.
When you put two colors with similar exposure indices together, they can create an effect that is too bright, which irritates the eye and makes the message impossible to read.
Try adjusting the contrast of the image by decreasing the saturation, hue, or exposure value.
2. Avoid large, light text boxes on a dark background.
If you must include a large text box, avoid light text on a dark background. The contrast is often too strong, which hampers the readability of your message.
3. Go for neutral colors to balance your design.
Be sure to opt for neutral colors like white, black, and gray. Your design will be well balanced if you surround your neutral colors with light colors.
4. Play with contrasts to bring out important information.
Use colors selectively for things you want to stand out, like your logo or company name.
5. Think about how passers-by feel when they see your brand colors
By mastering common color associations, you can create a range of colors that can convey certain feelings such as security or reliability.
6. Look around for inspiration
Whether it’s a company you admire, an eye-catching image, or a certain trend you’ve noticed in the fashion world, you can find inspiration all around you.
7. Refer to the color wheel when in doubt
If you’re unsure about a certain color range, use the above formulas to make sure the colors you’ve chosen go together well.