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What are Brand Colors and How to Use Your Brand Colors

What do you do with your brand colors and how do you use them to strengthen your brand identity? In this post we will review what brand colors are and how to best use them in your small business.

What are Brand Colors

“Brand colors” are a key component to a brand’s visual identity. Typically there are 3-8 designated colors that create a color palette complimentary to the brand’s personality and style.

There are two different types of brand colors: primary brand colors and secondary brand colors.

Primary Brand Colors

Primary brand colors are the main, consistent colors used in all graphics, publications, signage, ect. Primary brand color rarely change because they are central to the brand’s visual identity.

The primary brand color can be tightly associated with the logo. A great example of this is Coca-Cola. When I say Coke-Cola what color came to mind?

Chances are you thought of red. Red is the primary brand color for the Coca-Cola Company and is use consistently and frequently in all marketing.

Secondary Brand Colors

Secondary brand colors act as a complimentary color pallet to the primary brand colors. These colors are updated more frequently and often change to reflect strategy trends and marketing goals.

For example, if you want to target younger clients then you may adjusting your secondary color palette to reflect current color trends that appeal to a younger demographic.

The secondary brand colors can be used throughout your brand’s website, social media, and packaging but should not consist of more than 50% of the overall design.

How many brand colors should I have for my business?

Generally, you can have up two 3 “primary” brand colors and “4-5 secondary” colors.

Having a healthy variety of secondary colors will help you stay on brand more often because it will provide you flexibility and variety in your design needs.

How important are my brand colors?

The value and importance of your brand’s color depends on your industry and specific goals.

Brand colors are very important if you are using an “identifier” strategy

Some businesses use color as an “identifier” making their brand’s colors very important. A brand color “identifier” is when the brand color becomes one with the brand and it would be hard to separate the color from the brand.

Examples of this would be Target and red, Walmart and blue, T-Mobile and hot pink, Starbucks and green. Each of these companies chooses to use color as an “identifier” to improve their brand recognition. This strategy is successful for these companies and helps build strong recognition.

Brand colors are less important if your industry trends change frequently

Not all companies choose to use brand colors as an “identifier.” Using color as an identifier can make it difficult for companies to be flexible when trends change because they are locked into their brand’s “identifier” colors.

For example, most fashion brands stick with black, white, and neutral gray in their overall brand colors. This is an intentional strategy because these brands recognize how quickly trends change in their specific industry.

To avoid being locked into a brand color or constantly having to change their brand colors, these companies choose to stay in a neutral palette putting less importance on their brand’s colors.

How often should I change my brand colors?

You should rarely change your brand colors. Primary brand colors should almost never change and secondary brand colors should only change to accommodate a new branding goals, for example targeting a new customer.

If you find you are changing your brand colors constantly then you may need to rethink your brand strategy. Checkout our best-selling branding course, Brand Bootcamp to get your brand in shape.

Guidelines for using brand colors

When managing your brand colors follow these guidelines to grow a strong and consistent brand identity:

  • Select up to 3 primary brand colors
  • Select up to 5 secondary brand colors
  • Select colors that match your businesses’ personality & style
  • Select colors that will offer flexibility and longevity
  • Decided on a color strategy for your business
  • Don’t change your colors frequently
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