When it comes to designing a brand, colors play an essential part. The colors you choose have a huge impact on your brand as a whole.
Many business owners and bloggers choose their colors based on their own taste. What a mistake!
If you want to throw away one of the most important tools in your design arsenal, then choose what you like.
If you want to be smart, go a little deeper.
Use the power of color psychology. If you want to sell more and have a thoughtfully designed brand, choose wisely.
In this post I’ll tell you how and I’ll show you some free and easy tools to help you with this fun experiment.
What colors mean (in a nutshell)
Yellow is optimistic, happy, friendly, extrovert and self-confident. It can also be needy, impatient and make some people anxious.
Happy, healthy, vivid, abundant, creative, energetic, communicative. As a mix of red and yellow, attributes of both come together in orange.
Red can be strong, energetic, warm, determined but also aggressive, defiant and angry. It’s the color of warnings and prohibition.
A definitely feminine color. Pink can be soothing, romantic, affectionate, reassuring, nurturing, suggesting hope, confident but also girlish and silly.
Purple is luxurious, spiritual, uplifting, suggests harmony and balance. A lighter version feels calming and relaxing.
Blue is intelligent, clear, cool, efficient, loyal but also cold, unfriendly and conservative.
Turquoise is friendly, creative, healing, calming, expresses a clarity of thought. Also self-centered, boastful and idealistic.
Green is abundant and expresses harmony and well-being. It’s the color of growth and spring, relates to prosperity and persistence.
Brown is down-to-earth, stable, organized, confident, reassuring, relates to quality, security and protection. It can also be boring and unsophisticated.
As the combination of black and white, it is a compromise. It’s unemotional, neutral, solid and stable. It can be sophisticated and glamorous but also dull and lifeless.
Black can be mysterious, powerful, conventional, protective. It implies control and authority but also sophistication, elegance and glamor.
White is pure, innocent, perfect, fair, complete, ethereal and sophisticated. Also hygienic, cold, empty, sterile.
Silver is associated with female energy, it’s elegant, glamorous, sophisticated, respectable, responsible and patient. Also high-tech, dull, lifeless, indecisive.
Gold is associated with wealth, success and triumph. It’s abundant, luxurious, sophisticated, quality, elegant and wise. It carries masculine energy and can be selfish or opportunistic.
Colors and branding
People are emotional buyers. You often decide without consciously thinking your choice over and rationalize your decision later.
Colors work on the unconscious level. When you see a brand, you rarely look into what its colors mean.
On the web, when people open your website, they form their first impression in 0.05 seconds. Yes, you’ve read that right, it’s not even a second.
So all the colors, typography, photos and other elements contributing to the visual representation of your brand have to be compiled during a serious design process.
When I was doing my design course, I learned about color psychology, but the last piece of the puzzle clicked into its place when I met Fiona Humberstone‘s amazing method.
Besides taking into consideration the meaning of colors, Fiona uses a system that categorizes business personalities according to seasons.
The season your brand fits in defines not only the choice of your colors but also the texture, pattern, typography and any other elements.
Spring goes with light, bright colors, summer with cool and muted, autumn with warm and intense, and winter with strong, clear and cool colors – the latter is the only one that can contain pure black.
So when I do branding, I always map the business with a questionnaire (I always did) and now try to think their personality over according to the seasons.
Fiona uses Pantone chips to choose the colors for a brand. These are quite expensive and this process needs a good eye.
If you want to choose your colors right, you can use amazing free tools too.
Here’s the list.
Free and easy tools to do your colors right
1. Adobe Color
Earlier named Kuler, Adobe’s free tool is my favorite to go to when I need to play with colors.
It lets you choose your own colors, play with combinations according to schemes like analogous, complementary, compound and so on, and you can even create a color palette based on an image.
If you have an Adobe CC subscription, you can save your palette to your Library and reach the colors from your Illustrator, Photoshop or Indesign software.
You can also explore palettes saved by others.
This online application has been developed by a Czech designer.
You can set a base color by typing its hex code and – like in Adobe Color – you can play with the different schemes.
Paletton will give you several shades (darker versions) and tints (lighter versions) of the colors in the given scheme.
You can export your palette as HTML, CSS, SASS or save it as an image or as a .aco file to import into Photoshop.
Coolors is an online application but it’s also available as an app for iOS or Android.
You can work with five colors at the same time. Change the hex code of one stripe, lock it so that it won’t change and press the spacebar. Again. And again. Isn’t it fun?
If you have your colors, you can refine them changing the hue, saturation, brightness and temperature.
Exporting is limited, Coolors doesn’t offer as many versions as Paletton.
This site offers not only color tools but also a community of several million color lovers.
Its greatest advantage is the palettes these members have created and the tags they joined to the palettes, so you can search targeting these.
Use these for inspiration. I don’t recommend copying a given palette for your own brand – a lot of them are copyrighted by their creator, anyway.
If you register, you can save your palettes.
It’s not really a palette generator, rather a color code converter.
I go here if I want to check the CMYK code of a color whose code I have in RGB or hex code, or if I want to look up the tints or shades of a color.
What’s your favorite tool for choosing colors and creating a palette? Share it in a comment below!
Have fun playing with colors!