When building a brand, choosing your colour palette is as essential as your logo, tone of voice, fonts, and brand values. It helps people to understand something about what you stand for and represent.
Choosing and keeping a suitable colour palette will keep your brand consistent, and over time, will make it recognizable. Let’s look at some of the steps you can take when choosing your brand’s colour palette.
Consider Your Brand’s Identity and Core Values
Before choosing fonts, colours, and logos, it is good to do some preliminary work. You can ask questions like; What is the message of my brand? What are its values? What makes it unique? What problems do I solve? Who are my ideal clients? How do I want my customers to feel?
Answering these questions will help you to understand how you want to use colour to spread your message. You may consider brainstorming to come up with ten keywords that represent your brand.
When thinking about your brand identity, you can consider where your brand sits on the spectrum of these polar opposites;
- Masculine – Feminine
- Playful – Serious
- Luxurious – Affordable
- Modern – Classic
- Youthful – Mature
- Loud – Subdued
Choosing brand colours is a lot easier if you know what you are trying to communicate.
Think About Colour Psychology and Colour Meanings
There are a ton of studies on the psychology of colour. Each colour can be said to represent an emotion or a state of mind. The tone and brightness can also massively alter the associations we have with colour. For example, bright yellow could make us feel joyful, whereas a more pale yellow could invoke jaundice and sickness.
Here are some common associations of colours that are often used;
Red Colour Palette
Red is associated with excitement, passion, and energy. It brings to mind the heat of the fire. Red Bull use this colour, and they are associated with an energy drink and high adrenaline sports.
Blue Colour Palette
Blue is associated with calmness and can project a sense of stability. Many tech and finance companies, such as PayPal, use blue to convey reliability.
Yellow Colour Palette
Yellow makes us think of sunshine. It is a warm colour and is generally associated with positivity and optimism. The golden yellow arches on the side of a Happy Meal are a good example.
Green Colour Palette
Green makes people think of nature and growth. We can think of the juice company Tropicana and their green logo, which makes their product seem healthy and natural.
Orange Colour Palette
Orange is refreshing and warm. The colour orange is said to inspire creativity. It brings to mind the Classic Penguin logo that adorns the cover of some of our favourite books.
Purple Colour Palette
A deep and rich purple hue is associated with luxury and high quality. This indulgent colour has been used famously by Cadbury’s and Hallmark.
Black Colour Palette
Black is sometimes associated with morbidity. However, it also has positive associations of sophistication. Many fashion companies, such as Prada and Gucci, use black.
Create a Mood Board
If you have some colours in mind, and you want to see how they would look when used in a variety of ways, you could create a mood board. Use an app like Pinterest, search for images that match the colours you want to try out, and post away.
You can use images with just one colour, see how it looks and what it evokes in you. You could also try mixing colours together to see how they complement each other. You may also try creating a series of logos using various colour schemes and carry out market research by asking friends and family what they think. This kind of logo design test will provide valuable feedback on what colour schemes will work for you.
Choose 3 Colours
A colour palette should include a dominant colour, a secondary colour, which will be used for highlighting certain aspects of your marketing, and a neutral colour, which will be used for backgrounds.
The dominant colour should reflect your brand’s dominant trait. It should also appeal to your target audience. The secondary colour needs to match the dominant colour, as well as matching your brand identity. Neutral colours are chosen to avoid attention and are typically white, grey, or beige.
Let’s look at some of the popular colour schemes that are commonly used, using the colour wheel as a basis;
This means using one colour in many different shades, and it can be useful if you have one “personality trait” of your brand that you really want to highlight. The shades must be noticeably different.
These are colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel, such as red and orange. Adjacent colours have similar emotional connotations. Analogous schemes are a safe bet but may not stand out.
Complementary colours are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. They bring out the best in each other when used. They are great for dynamic, stimulating visuals. They are very commonly used.
A triadic colour scheme means three colours that form an exact triangle on the colour wheel. A triadic scheme is stable, like an analogous scheme, but also offers stimulation, like a complementary scheme. The challenge is finding a triad of colours that really fit your brand.
There are no concrete rules when choosing your brand’s colour palette. This article can be considered more of a rough guide of things you may want to consider. Colours have an emotional impact, and the most important thing is to trust your gut instinct.
You can have fun while undertaking this process as it is a creative and exciting part of your business venture. Once you set your branding colours, people will begin to remember them, so you don’t want to change them too much from the original palette.
Choose your colours with confidence, and then you can go on to thinking about logos, business cards, and websites.