If you are a small business or a solopreneur, you might not have settled on your final brand color yet. Color helps your customers identify your brand and product within seconds and, if chosen right, it can really strengthen your company image.
Google once tested 41 types of blue to try and discover consumer preferences. Smaller companies often don’t have the time or resources to undertake a similar effort. What to do? Well, the easiest way to learn is surveying others’ experience. That’s why in this post we are taking a look at ways some of the most trendy marketing companies are using of color in their branding.
A third of world’s most valuable 100 brands uses blue as their main brand color, according to Marketo, with red being a close second with 29%, so let’s start our journey with blue.
Although color associations are considered to be largely cultural, it’s still important to understand what meaning a color you are choosing for your brand has for your audience. One of the oft-cited reasons for the popularity of blue as brand color is its meaning – the color is associated with a reliable, calm and orderly personality.
If we look at the marketing companies using blue as their brand color, messaging app Intercom and website tool wizard Sumo are two noticeable examples.
Intercom uses a more vivid and rich shade of blue. The website is filled with stylized scribbly illustrations that one might associate with exchanging quick notes in middle school – the color lends the brand a fun, light-hearted vibe:
Image from Intercom
Sumo goes for a deeper blue that, combined with the prevalence of dark tones on its website, provides for an immersive feel that is reminiscent of an underwater submersion. As I browsed the website and brand’s social media, and even watched their YouTube promo for the key Sumo services, I was left a little bit confused as to how the theme is relevant to the platform’s services.
Image from Sumo
Red is a popular color with fast-food chains, and one reason might be its stimulating effect on humans. The color is traditionally associated with vigor, ambition, love, physical activity and aggression. The excitement red sets off in our nervous systems also leads to faster fatigue from the color, meaning using it as a brand color can be a risky move.
One of the exemplary uses of red as a brand color is by a popular technology and app aggregator Product Hunt.
Image from Product Hunt
The very name of the product sharing service has the word ‘hunt’ in it, which goes very well with the stimulating red. Users come to the website to hunt for new products and red works really well in this context.
Popular companies on every marketer’s radar that use green as their brand color include Feedly, Sprout Social, and Evernote. From my brief research for this post, I’ve concluded that Sprout Social is the standout example we should take a closer look at.
Image from Twitter
Note that both the name and logo of the company are in tune with the brand color – the word ‘sprout’ stands for a shoot of a plant, while the logo is a green leaf. This makes the company much easier to identify just from the logo, while the name is easier to remember with these associations.
By the way, notice that the Twitter layout of the company features green buttons and links? That’s a small detail that casual users aren’t paying any attention to, but it contributes to a more professional impression from visiting this social media page.
Wattpad, HubSpot, CoSchedule all use a version of orange in their branding. Note how HubSpot and CoSchedule use darker greys and blacks to neutralize the bright color and create contrast:
Image from Twitter
Image from HubSpot
Image from CoSchedule
Mixing it up
According to the cited above Marketo research, 95% of the studied companies use one or two colors as their brand color. Using more colors is a more experimental approach that we can see companies like Slack and Later taking with their branding.
Image from Facebook
Using multiple colors is an effective way to stand out and reflect the agile and innovative nature of your brand. It’s also a risky move, so make sure you are using tools to generate a coherent palette for your logo or brand colors. Try Coolors or Colormind.
Pro tip: Palette generators will also be helpful if you have a single brand color but are trying to figure out your website or marketing campaign palette.
What about Black?
Monochrome greyscale brand palette or a black logo on a white background is a classic that will not go out of style. Depending on the font and logo design, it can be playful or serious, minimalist or whimsical.
Image from Hootsuite
But if you choose to use black for your brand, beware that selecting complementary colors is still something you will have to do, even though everything goes with black.
For example, Buffer app has a greyscale logo:
Image from Twitter
But here’s the full brand color scheme from Buffer official style guide:
Image from Buffer
“Buffer’s color scheme aims to be clear, unintrusive and friendly,” reads the guide.
If you want to select an inspiring brand color for your business (or introduce a brand color change as part of a rebranding effort), try to look for ideas in your industry. Study how fellow enterprises are using color to highlight aspects of their service or product. Consider what is your brand voice and identity and what qualities of your product or service you’d like to highlight with color?
Remember, as long as meaningful connection between your product or service, company name and history as well as style of interaction with its customers and audience is maintained, the actual color you choose is most likely not going to make or break company success all on its own. So once you settle on the main color, like a red or a yellow, decide if you need the tone of your color to be on the warmer or colder side (as a representation of a more relaxed vs formal approach), more muted or vivid (serious vs playful), and you are good to go!