Choosing the right colors for your color scheme isn’t always as clear-cut as it might first appear. Our previous blog post included a brief guide on how a few of the most popular colors are utilized by prominent businesses and organizations, how they can be interpreted, and what emotions and feelings those colors can instill in the public. However, it would be a mistake to oversimplify the process of choosing a prominent color for your brand’s color scheme – all restaurants don’t choose the same striking shade of red, for example, and not all banks choose to utilize a shade of blue.

Choose Your Colors With Care

In our previous post we discussed the “60-30-10 Rule,” which states that a color scheme should have three colors and the colors should be used 60%, 30% and 10% of the time. While the entirety of your color scheme is important, the color that will be used 60% of the time should be chosen with great caution and only after considerable research. Before you decide on a set of colors to represent your business, it’s important to study the two most important parties that should influence your decision – your target audience and your competitors.

How Well Do You Really Know Your Target Audience

It should be obvious that the color scheme, like your overall branding, should be inviting and feel “right” to your target audience. One of the biggest mistakes that an entrepreneur can make in regard to branding is to choose branding elements based solely on personal preference – this can be for purely egotistical reasons or it can be the result of the often mistaken belief that you are a perfect representation of your own target audience. If you absolutely despise the color yellow, then no one is forcing you to choose it for your “60%” color, but if you absolutely love a bright shade of yellow, and it is inappropriate for your industry and target audience, then it would be a mistake to utilize it as the primary color in your branding, no matter how much you may personally prefer it.

Shading In The Industries

It is important to remember that different shades of the same color can instill drastically different emotions in your target audience. For instance, darker shades of green are often associated with wealth, financial power and prestige, while lighter shades of green are associated with health, healing and nature. A small wealth management firm and an organic produce dealer may have two drastically different target audiences, yet the color green can appeal to both.

Differentiate Yourself From The Competition

It’s very important to be aware of the color schemes and branding utilized by your competition for two reasons: it’s vital that you differentiate your business, and it’s legally prudent to avoid the appearance of violating the trademark of a competitor. As with other factors when choosing a color scheme, brand differentiation can be confusing – some competing companies can use almost identical color schemes, and this can be acceptable if other elements of their branding are different enough to not cause confusion among consumers. However, there is no reason to risk being forced to revise your branding or even face a lengthy and expensive legal proceeding when you can easily choose a different color or shade of the same color to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

Don’t Confuse The Market

If you directly compete with a prominent competitor, it would be unwise to use a color scheme that is identical – you’re simply going to confuse prospective customers and likely receive a sternly-worded letter. However, if your other branding elements are distinct enough, there is no reason why you can’t use a different shade of the same color. For instance, Facebook and Twitter are fierce competitors in the realm of social media, but both utilize blue as the prominent color in their branding. However, Twitter utilizes a lighter shade of blue, and their name and logo are different enough from Facebook that an average consumer would likely not be confused by the branding.