Caroline Onder is a graphic designer, media strategist, traveler, and our resident fashion expert. She also creates awesome brand identities.

My favorite part of creating or refreshing a brand identity is picking the right color palette. I need to meet with a client, learn what their vision is, and come to understand what message their brand identity is going to convey.

The first step is deciding what music I’m going to listen to.

Choosing the right color is like choosing the right music. While choosing the music part usually comes easy, and color takes more time, the decision making process for both share some similarities. Each color in a palette – like each song on an album – conveys a different emotion and serves a different purpose. While songs on an album, like the colors in a palette, may compliment or build on each other, they often work well when standing alone. When combined properly, they deliver a message. Much like a song often doesn’t need specific lyrics to impart a mood, a color palette need not shout to convey an emotion.

While I don’t specifically pick music based on a client’s vision, my playlist generally reflects the mood of the brand. For example, if I’m working on the brand identity for a tropical, Puerto Rican-themed food truck, I want something spirited and upbeat, like The Rhythm of the Saints by Paul Simon. Conversely, when designing the brand for a Christian Devotional writer, blasting Black Sabbath probably won’t inspire me.

It’s similar to how business owners use colors. Doctor’s offices choose pale blues and pastels to calm their patients, while restaurants favor warm red tones to spur their customer’s appetites.

I’m certain there’s a whole other level of psychology that goes into that, but for now I’ll just stick to picking the right colors and expanding my playlist of good music.

About The Author

Caroline Onder is a graphic designer, media strategist, traveler, and our resident fashion expert. After living in New Zealand, North Carolina, New Jersey, and then New York, she returned home to Richmond to get her degree in Creative Advertising at VCU.
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