Why Branding Colors are Damned Important, and How to Use Them

Cynthia Bartz • October 19, 2016

You are building a brand for your business, even if you don’t know it. And the sooner you understand the role branding has to play in your business, the sooner you can control it and use it to your advantage. There are three key elements to every brand: Logo, Font Choices and Branding Colors.

If you do nothing else for your branding, keep your colors consistent. This is the single most important piece of your brand. Using consistent colors will make it easier for prospects to recognize your business across the various platforms you use: Facebook, business cards, website, marketing flyers, ads in the high school football program.

When you randomly pick colors, prospects will have a hard time remembering and recognizing your business. You will blend in with your competitors as “just another lawn company,” “just another coach,” “just another real estate agent,” “just another ___ company.” And you are NOT just another anything. Your business is not generic. The quality and level of service you offer to your clients is anything but run-of-the-mill. You miss a huge opportunity to communicate your commitment to your clients when you randomly use colors.

Your business is not “just another” anything. Your business is not generic. Show people by sticking with your brand colors.

Do you think the ads below belong to the same business? Do you think you would recognize them if you saw a fourth ad with still different colors as that same business? Do you think this company is building brand loyalty or recognition with these ads? If you aren’t sure, the answer to all of these questions is “no.” If you took these same ads and used consistent colors, you would be better able to recognize them as being from the same company, and your perception of the company’s quality will sky-rocket.

three ads with random branding colors

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Exact Branding Colors, not Guesses

Don’t guess. If your colors are green and royal blue and you are creating a new Facebook banner, DO NOT go into the color pallet in Canva and pick the ones that are closest. If you are hiring a designer to create a new ad for you, don’t leave them guessing about your colors. When you guess, you create inconsistencies that make it difficult for prospects and clients to recognize your business as your business. You want your business to be memorable. And to stick. Using consistent colors is the easiest way to do this, and it doesn’t cost you anything.

When you guess what your colors are, you create inconsistencies that make it more difficult for prospects and clients to recognize your business as your business.

I can’t tell you the number of small businesses I’ve worked with who don’t take this basic step.

three adds with close, but not exactly matching branding colorsYou can see in the example above three ads for the same business that use similar, but not exactly the same, colors in each ad. If you look at each ad on its own, it looks good. However, it’s difficult to make the connection between all three because different colors were used.

Write Down Your Colors

You are never going to be able to be consistent if you don’t know what your exact brand colors are. It is important to document your branding colors and keep this document some place that you can reference over and over. You need to have three numbers for each one of your branding colors: one for print, one for digital, and one for web.

The Information You Need:

  • CMYK – used for print
    Examples: Business Cards, Postcards, Print Ads, Flyers, etc.
  • RGB – used for digital
    Examples: Facebook Ads, Twitter Cover Image, Social Media Profile Pictures, etc.
  • Hex Code – used on websites
    Examples: WordPress, Business Apps, Twitter Profile Settings, Website, etc.

Use my brand color worksheet to document your brand colors. Print it out and tape it to your computer. Pin it to your board in your office. Save it and send it to designers and printers.

Not sure what your brand colors are? Next week I will show you how to get all this information without any fancy programs. Sign Up for my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.

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Consistently Use Your Colors Everywhere

You should be using your branding colors everywhere your business is on display. Any place that your business will be printing, publishing, speaking, meeting, interacting should be using your colors. This means that everything from your website to ads, business cards to logo, forms to ink pens should have your branding colors. Any time you need to make a color choice you should be reaching for your branding colors document and picking from those colors.

This means everything, every time. Use your brand colors in your Instagram feed, your profile photos, the pens you hand out. Everything. Every thing. Every. Thing. All the things. Use your colors on everything your business touches.
You can see the huge improvement between the image above and the one where we guessed at the colors. Consistency is important, and it should not be ignored or pushed to the side out of laziness or a need to “just get it done.”

Places to use your branding colors:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Business Cards
  • Postcards
  • Print Ads
  • Digital Ads
  • Facebook Cover
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Forms
  • Pens, USB drives, Mugs and other promotional items
  • Flyers
  • Leave-behinds
  • Landing Pages
  • Email Signatures
  • Computer Wallpaper
  • Phone Wallpaper
  • Shirts
  • Magnets
  • Office or Store Decor
  • Signs
  • On Everything.

Take Every Opportunity

Did I say everywhere? I really mean it. Some of the apps and programs that you use to run your business will allow you to change colors and add logos. If you can, always change these color and branding settings to your brand colors. Below is a list of apps that I know can do this.

Apps You Can Brand:

  • Freshbooks
  • Zipbooks
  • Quickbooks Online
  • Typeform
  • Jot Form
  • Twitter Profile
  • Vimeo

Think Beyond Ads

You want to take every opportunity that is presented to you to make it clear that your business is your business. Prospects should be able to recognize your business immediately. The more you infuse everything with your colors, the more they can recognize you.

So, if you work in coffee shops, buy a laptop cover with your brand color and slap your logo on it. If you can, buy pens in one of your brand colors. Order shirts in your brand color. If you are buying a gift for a super loyal client look for items that are in your brand colors. Everywhere.

There will be some exceptions. For example, it can be difficult to find shirts, mugs, and other promotional items that are an exact match for your branding colors. In that case, if it is really really close, then I say go for it. But if there is nothing in your branding colors I recommend getting white or black and printing your logo in color on the item.

Bottom Line

You should be using your branding colors on every thing, every time.

Download Your Branding Color Worksheet

2df78a45-84d2-41b0-8e98-08487fc64037Document your brand colors in this easy to use worksheet that you can fill out digitally, print, save and share with all the awesome people who help you get your business out in the world. In this worksheet you will be able to:

  • Document 6 branding colors
  • Make a list of who should get a copy of your brand colors
  • Find recommendations for keeping track of colors.
  • Bonus: Step Up Your Color Game
    Where I ask you 4 questions to help you make better design choices.


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