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Blue? Green? Brown? What are the three most important factors when choosing your brand colour?

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It’s no secret that branding is incredibly powerful. Done well, branding can capture the hearts and minds of your customers in an instant.

But like most powerful tools, it can backfire if used incorrectly, leaving your first potential customers with a serious “Eewww!” feeling before they have even seen your amazing widget, app or service.

Of course, you can play it safe and aim for a middle-ground. But if you are a start-up aiming to change things up and push the dial forward – then bland branding is not for you!

So, what do you do? How do you make the most of your brand without falling foul of the power of branding? I will let you in on a secret: think carefully about colour.

I am focusing on colour because the wrong colour can be a big turn-off. The wrong colour is a direct route to that ‘Eewww!’ feeling: just imagine a bloke’s clothing brand using pink… not a pleasant thought, now is it? But the right colour? Well that will make your brand stand out for the right reasons. Here are three things to consider so you get your brand colour right:

1. Observe the current colour trends

Colours are memes. So, like cat-videos, I believe they change and evolve to reflect trends in fashion, time and place.

But how do you make sure you are following the right colour trends?
Easy – just go out into the real world and experience it! Your local cafes, bars & street art are a great place to start.

Take a mental note of all the colours you can see around you as you read this. Everyday life is often the best source of inspiration and no amount of time spent looking at Photoshop’s confusing colour wheel is going to change that – so get out there and get a feel for colour!

2. What is your brand’s core message/colour?

Now that you are full of awesome colour inspiration, it’s time to apply it to your brand. Focus groups are expensive, so right now, no one else knows your brand better than you. Or rather, no one else knows your core value proposition better than you.

As a founder, often your number one job is to always know what you are selling and to whom – and everything you do reflects that simple idea. Branding is no different. So think about what that core ‘thing’ that you do is. Then think about colours that accentuate, reflect and embody or reflect that core thing.

Here’s an example: Google lets you search for information on everything – so their logo would not work with a single colour. Instead it’s made of a heap of colours. Be proud of that special thing you do and reflect it with colour!

3. Stand out of the crowd with colour

Let’s oversimplify this with an analogy: let’s say you are a new Power Ranger with a special power all your own. Given the choice, would you decide to be just another Red Power Ranger? Of course not – you are special! You need a colour all your own.

But, here’s the thing: Grab your smartphone and look at the app icons for your favourite social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Tumblr … they’re all blue. If you are an awesome new social network with killer features all your own – are you going to want choose blue? No way!

One of the best ways to let people know that you’re doing something different is by looking different. Instagram, Pinterest, airbnb are all part of a new wave of social networks that have embraced why they’re special – and they use colour to show it. Find your special thing and treat your colour choices as an opportunity to let everyone exactly what that is!

Invest the time and reap the benefits

At the end of the day, what I am asking you to do is to consider the power of colour in branding and put in the hard yards. It can take a lot of time and effort, but branding can be a big signifier as to how serious you are about your venture.

If you have gone out and experienced colour in the real world, and you understand what makes you special compared to your competitors, you are ready to wield the power of colour and brand like a boss. Consider this your wake-up call to steer your brand away from an “Eewww!” feeling into a resounding “Hell yeah!”

Djordje Dikic is a colour-obsessed designer and one-third of start-up SwatchMate: the Cube that lets you capture the colour of any surface. SwatchMate recently won the 2013 Sydney and Melbourne Design Awards and will launch a Kickstarter campaign on November 13th. Keep up-to-date with SwatchMate’s Kickstarter progress by liking their Facebook page.

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