Color’s value is often underestimated in branding. In cannabis, we find most brands lean toward green because it’s the color we most often associate with the industry, without understanding the message that color sends to customers.

Color can affect metabolism, trigger hormones, elevate mood and increase heart rate. Color can stimulate impulse buying, a sense of familiarity, comfort or loyalty. Using color or the combination of several colors, known as a color palette, for your brand can be a powerful tool in creating an emotional reaction to your company.

It’s critical to your brand development that you choose colors that speak to the right audience and reflect your brand’s values. Choosing color based on what you “like” or what looks “nice” can work against what you’re trying to accomplish. Just as color can work in a way that creates positive feelings about your brand, it can also have a negative effect.

Understanding how to use color is also an important factor in your decision. The perception of color can change with factors like age, income and geographic location. Before you begin to choose your color palette, research and investigate the reactions your color choices are likely to produce.

Let’s look at some of the ways colors are perceived in a brand logo.

Develop Your Palette

In choosing your logo color, it’s important to evaluate your brand personality. What do you want your audience to think of you? Are you friendly, trustworthy, energetic, fun or authoritative? Do you want to be seen as the eccentric mad scientist? Do you want to be seen as the rock-and-roll soccer mom? Do you want to be seen as a Madison Avenue suit? Your color choices will give you direction.

Next, choose your color palette—the full spectrum of the colors that will represent your brand. Your brand will require multiple colors to convey its personality in ways that extend far beyond the logo, from ads to social media posts, invitations to events to content for your blog.

When building a color palette, it's important to choose a range of colors that are complementary and contain many of the same elements as the main logo color so they all tie together and appear to be from the same color family.

Many resources are available to help you sort through primary colors and their complementary families. Pinterest and Google are full of color palette examples to contrast and compare those that will fit your brand best. Coolors.co is also a useful color palette app that allows you to save the color palettes you like.

Cross-check with industry competitors and brands that fit your personality that may be from different industries. Are the colors creating the emotional reaction you are looking for with your brand? What are the range of colors used by other brands? Do they work with the primary color?
Choose colors that reflect your brand’s values.

Once you find a palette that accurately represents your brand, do a final contrast check. Not everyone sees a full color spectrum, and remember that what you present must be able to be seen by your audience. Test your colors in different circumstances. Make sure the colors aren’t washed out or difficult to differentiate. You want them to pop in the eyes of your customers.

Finally, do the partner and friends test. What do people think when they see your colors? Does it remind them of something unfavorable? Do they respond the way you want your customers to respond when they encounter your brand? Take note. Listen to people’s opinions, especially if they are likely to be your customers.

Chances are, you will go through this process and start over many times. Don’t get discouraged; keep going until you have it!

Read Part I of this series: on developing a cannabis business logo.

Kyra Reed launched Markyr Cannabis, a digital marketing and social media strategy agency, in 2016. Reed’s cannabis clients include cultivators, manufacturers and software companies. Jesse Barney is a brand design freelancer in the cannabis industry and visual communications expert.