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Optimize Your Nonprofit Branding Using Color Theory

The Good Pixel is thrilled to launch a new outreach and educational series on choosing the right color(s) for nonprofit branding. A signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%, provide context to your work, and prompt audiences to take action. We want to help nonprofits understand how color theory can amplify your critical message. Read our step-by-step guide below for how to optimize your nonprofit’s branding using color theory.

1. Decide on a Message

choosing the right slogan 

Your nonprofit’s mission should always be the starting point for your marketing efforts. Before picking a logo color, decide what message you want to convey to your stakeholders. Are you an environmental organization that aims to end climate change? Or are you a feel-good agency that inspires young people to help their neighbors? Aligning your agency’s intention with your marketing materials can make the difference between growing a movement or getting lost in a volunteer catalog.

2. Refer to Color Theory

how to use color theory
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“Color is not just about aesthetics – it also communicates specific information,” psychologists Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier found. Researchers argue that color choice can have a significant impact on a consumer’s actions. For instance, red and yellow can trigger hunger, while green implies growth and environmentalism. Industry-leading companies have employed color theory over centuries to convey their messages and inspire specific engagement. Visit The Logo Company for an insightful infographic on the impact of each color in the rainbow.

This finding directly translates to the nonprofit sector – a nonprofit’s branding colors can impact giving, volunteerism, and involvement. Align your organization’s mission with a fitting color using color theory.

3. Select a Color Palate

select a color pallette
Taylor HeeryUnsplash

After you decide which primary color(s) to use in your branding, research complimentary to create a color palate. We recommend brainstorming different types of colors that you’ll need for your marketing, such as a primary color, secondary color, dark and light secondary variants, iconography, surface, background, and error codes. Consider combinations that work together according to color harmony basics, such as complimentary (opposite colors on the color wheel), monoaromatic (three different values of the same color), or analogous color schemes (three adjacent colors on the color wheel). Each color harmony can have a different effect, ranging from creating a smooth transition to generating contrast. Not sure where to start? Use a color calculator, color scheme generator, or Adobe’s color theme tool.

4. Add the colors to your branding guide

creating a brading guide
Balázs Kétyi

Consistency in an organization’s branding is critical to building a strong brand identity. Just like for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations need to convey the same personality across platforms and time to cultivate recognizability. For instance, Coca-Cola’s success from its inception in 1881 can, in part, be contributed to its consistent signification of ‘happiness and sharing’ in its advertising campaigns. The company’s strong visual identity, composed of its classic red background and distinct scroll font, has contributed to its timeliness and highly recognizable brand identity.

To effectively brand your nonprofit organization and maintain consistency regardless of changes in communication staff, color codes must be noted in your branding guide. Avoid slight differences between mediums that can amass into major deviations over the years by listing the specific color codes for printing, websites, and computer screens in your branding guide.

As nonprofit marketing and fundraising expert Terri Harel explains, “while it’s not everything, color definitely matters. Taking a calculated approach to chose a color palette and testing results is a great place to start. You never know, it just might be the missing piece you’ve been looking for to increase your online engagement!” Maximize your nonprofit’s potential impact by choosing the right colors for your branding. Contact us today to grow your organization, expand your donor database, and strengthen your brand recognition with design services from The Good Pixel.



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