Selecting A Colour Palette 

 December 1, 2019

Your core brand colour communicates a lot of information about your business. Before a single word has been read, people will have already begun forming opinions.

Co-founder @ Tartan

O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.
-Robert Burns

In this blog, I want to detail our approach to building colour palettes and touch briefly upon some of the ways in which colour shapes people’s perceptions of brand identity.

Does colour matter?

Your core brand colour communicates a lot of information about your business. Before a single word has been read, people will have already begun forming opinions. Evidence suggests people make judgements about your business based on your colour palette. In one study, researchers found that “90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on colour alone”. This is just one of the reasons we think carefully about colour choice.

Our Approach

There are several stages we go through when designing a colour scheme for a client;

(1) Identify a client’s target audience.
(2) Select a core brand colour that ‘fits’ the brand Identity.
(3) Create a colour palette that complements the brand colour.
(4) Choose a high contrast accent colour for use in calls to action.

Let’s go through each in turn;

1. Consider the target audience’s colour preferences

There are many claims out there about how colour impacts peoples perception of a brand. Unfortunately, most of them have no evidential basis at all. Thankfully, there are a few robust findings that we can rely upon to help guide us when deciding on a core brand colour.

One of those robust findings is the observation of subtle but significant differences in colour preferences between the sexes. Since colour has such a significant impact on peoples snap judgements, we recommend taking these preferences into consideration: especially if your target audience leans towards one demographic over the other.

2. Select a core brand colour that ‘fits’ the brand identity

Nearly every academic study on colours and branding will tell you that it’s important for your brand’s colours to support the personality you want to portray. A bright yellow funeral director may be eye-catching but it won’t be perceived as appropriate by customers and sales will suffer as a result.

At Tartan, we think getting this ‘fit’ right is the most important consideration when choosing a brand colour. For example, while subtle pastels may work well for a high-end boutique fashion store, a mass-market children’s toy company will usually be better opting for vibrant primary colours.

3. Create a colour palette

Once you have identified your core brand colour, the next step is to create a colour palette made up of secondary and accent colours. There are a number of free tools which can help you do this. Our favourites are;




4. Pick a high contrast colour for calls to action

The use of a high contrast accent colour in calls to action is a common design pattern on the web for a reason: it’s extremely effective.

An item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be noticed and remembered. This psychological principle is known as the Isolation Effect. By using colour to make your calls to action stand out we can significantly improve sign-up rates over baseline controls.

Final thoughts,

Colour is an exciting topic and new research about its effect is being published every day. We hope this blog has inspired you to think more about colour and about what your brand colour says about your business.

As ever,
Thanks for reading

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