How Color Informs Brand Identity

The search for the right palette to represent your brand

Painted Color Wheel

Color plays a pivotal role in brand identity.

As part of our branding series to pull back the curtain on the creative process, we’re outlining our insights on color theory and describing this critical element to developing a meaningful and relevant brand identity. Color decisions are most often made alongside the creation of other brand fundamentals – like naming, logo, graphics, and the like. Although the color palette might be developed in isolation, knowing how it plays in-tandem other elements of a brand is fundamental.

Color Is Intentional 

In branding, color considerations include an intentionality around how hues will interact with elements like the logo, media outputs like moving images, messaging and audio, and how color will display in different environments – from the physical store to digital platforms. While human response to color is often instinctual, it’s also layered and nuanced. As such, branding experts focus on uncovering how color choices impact our impressions of a brand and what kind of energy color conveys. Our response is often immediate – we either like it or we don’t – and we instinctively know what color communicates to us.  

Considerations for color include what we call ownability. Rather than legal issues, ownability is more about creating a distinctive palette that elevates and distinguishes you within your industry. A more important consideration is whether a brand can own the color in the emotional space of the consumer. Our reaction to color is often like our human response to art or music. We all have it, yet it’s not easily classified. Brand experts understand that color choice is less about justifying decisions by committee and more about finding a color to stick in the hearts and minds of the people we care about influencing.

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Color is Nuance

This visual expression of brand is instinctual, but the process to get to the right color(s) cannot rely on instinct alone. There are millions of choices, but more importantly than a singular color is the myriad of color combinations that work together. Sometimes the conversation gets distilled down to one perfect color, but the truth is it’s the relationship of a palette of colors where brands can find their signature visual look. Clients are often focused on distinguishing among their peers, yet may be reticent to take on something new – like purple in financial services. Our job is to crack open the possibilities for clients.   

Determining a color is not based on a chart detailing how certain colors make you feel. Rather, looking at colors in the world, branding experts focus on determining what type of emotion and energy a brand wants to convey through color, in tandem with other essentials like brand mission and vision. We want discover where colors are on an emotional spectrum and how they tie back to the overall brand strategy. Does a color feel conservative because of primary colors? What unique color combinations elevate and make a brand distinctive? What we are uncovering, in other words, is nuance. 

Color is Human

While human beings may perceive far less variability between color gradations than other species on the planet, there is a particularly human response to color. We see energy in red, regality in purple, calm in blue, and natural in green. Our human relationship with color is one of the more exciting brand elements to play with. Whether our responses are more trained or more intuitive, we all know that color resonates with humans on a deeply emotional level. While color won’t give you all the answers you need for brands, it will influence all parts of your brand.  

In the next installment in our series on demystifying the branding process, we will discuss approaches for naming and describe the power of language to creating a meaningful consumer relationship. Finding a distinctive name is as important as color for capturing consumer attention and affection. To speak with one of our branding and industry experts, contact us at

Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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