Branding 101: Choosing Unique Colors & a Logo

by David Landriault (2-23-14)

Opening a new business is an exciting and hectic time. Sometimes in the excitement, the branding of a company is overlooked.

As an owner of a small business, I can understand that. The problem is, branding is a vitally important part of your business. Let me say that again in bold type. “Branding is a vitally important part of your business.” In fact, I will argue it is the second most important thing you should do, after creating a business plan or even better a business model canvas. Branding is vital to communicating to the customer everything from your business philosophy, your potential place in your chosen field, and your experience, and poor branding limits things like how much you can charge, who you can work for, and your company’s implied reputation (both online and off-line).

Choosing the Philosophy: Consistency in design, service, and attitude throughout your customer’s experience is vital to properly positioning your company. It is also essential that anyone who may be representing your company fully understand your brand and company philosophy. Taking the time to talk about it now will prevent problems down the road. So let’s think about what we want to say to our customers. Sometimes a business may want to set their reputation as the lowest priced business in town. This philosophy would need a completely different type of branding than a company setting their status as high end or upscale. These factors will set the tone of all the coming marketing and design decisions. The subtle shades of color you choose for your website, store, print media, logo, and other materials are all vitally important to setting this tone.


What’s more, the overall way they are put together is just as important if not more so. Unless you are the Michelangelo of Photoshop with a behavioral science degree then you might want to consult a professional for this. But first before we decide whether to do this ourselves, we must determine what type of branding best represents our company. Don’t worry it’s not as hard as it sounds. At this point we will assume you have a business plan. If you don’t have a plan you should really have one before you create your branding but you should be able to follow along and get the general idea.


Choosing a Color Palate: Color is one of the most crucial decisions you can make when forming your brand. As you are getting prepared, one of the first things to consider will be the color scheme and logo and how they fit with your proposed business plan. It can be tempting to pick your favorite colors, or ones with some personal meaning however this is almost never the best idea. Colors evoke moods and have different meanings that are innately understood by the viewer. Even subtle shade changes can make a brand vastly different. This may further change depending on the perspective of the culture through which it is seen. In western cultures, we often think of white as a symbol of purity but some eastern cultures see white as a symbol of death or mourning. You can see that you will want to keep your intended market and place in that market in mind when choosing both colors and symbols. In addition to cultural meanings, colors can also affect moods. Red is considered a high energy color and is sometimes associated with anger or violence, and therefore would be a poor choice for someone who wanted to evoke a feeling of calmness and relaxation such as a spa or resort. You will want to know your business plan, place in the industry, and then get a professional to help you choose a couple of colors (2-4 typically) that go well together to represent that ideal.



Once we have our colors, it’s much easier to create a unique logo. When designing your logo, you will want to use your colors choices and make some of the same considerations you did when choosing colors. You should also consider your logo’s readability at different sizes. In our modern world, we may be seeing a logo as small as a tiny icon, or as large as a TV, or even a billboard. When designing a logo for such different sizes, you may opt for a simple image that works at most sizes, or you could have a simplified version for your icon for bookmarks for example, while employing a more complex version for larger screens or signs. For a smaller business and a few moderate enterprises, we usually recommend a simple logo. In this area more than almost any other you need to get a professional to help you create a logo that is both memorable and appropriate to your target goals in your industry. People remember great logos long after the products are forgotten and a great logo is key to the success of a business, particularly a website or web-based enterprise.


Using Logo and Color Choices to Help Guide Other Decisions: Once you have chosen your color palette and logo, these decisions will set the direction for your website, print media, business cards, and signs. When forming the core branding of your company remember to consider all the details because everything, including the font you choose, will affect the ‘feel’ of a brand. Branding when done effectively will help to set your company apart from its competitors. When done exceptionally it can turn your name into a verb. If you don’t believe me try “googling” it.

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