A startup could offer the most innovative software, the most disruptive service, the greatest thing ever available for purchase in the history of commerce — but if the company color scheme is off-putting, its customers might decide to shop elsewhere.

What color conveys about a brand is more complex than you think. To find out more, we asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs to share their tips for picking the right palette for their demographic and product. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Know Your Audience

Before choosing the color for a brand, it’s critical to understand the demographics and psychographics of the intended audience. A 20-year-old, video game-playing male will generally react differently to colors than a 55-year-old mother.

Color choice should resonate with the audience. For example, a pastel pink and yellow site color palette would typically be a big turnoff for the first group, but could strongly resonate with the moms.

Second, choose colors that represent the emotions that your brand intends to elicit. A professional law firm tends to position itself differently than a hipster clothing store. Likewise, the colors should match the positioning. – Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

2. Follow the 60-30-10 Rule

Designers frequently use the 60-30-10 rule, which suggests that you choose three different colors and use them in the ratio of 60%, 30% and 10%. This rule provides a simple way to create a professional color scheme for your brand. – Jared Christopherson, Yellowhammer

3. Analyze the Competition

Taking a look at the logos, websites and color schemes of your competitor set can help when choosing the color scheme for your online brand. Whether you want to convey belonging within the traditional guard of your industry, or you want to stand out from the competition with your color scheme, getting a sense of the tones and textures used by comparable companies is a great start in your planning process for online branding. – Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

4. Think Psychologically

Look for colors that give a psychological response to an audience, especially for an online brand that looks to drive traffic. Just keep in mind your target audience and the type of feeling they would like to be experiencing when surfing your site.

For example, if your goal is to get attention, use high-contrast colors like black-yellow, red-white, etc. (If you think about it, those are the colors of caution and stop signs.) But if your goal is to evoke a sense of peace of mind/serenity, go with peaceful colors like blue/purple/green. – Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

5. Differentiate

Look at the landscape of your competition and go the opposite direction. Put all of the other brands up on a board/screen so you can see all the colors you’re not going to use. Differentiation is key to building a charismatic brand. – Jake Stutzman, Elevate

Find more tips at Mashable