Color is one of the most important factors in branding. That’s a pretty bold statement, right?
Well, consider this: color is so important to branding that the use of specific hues is protected by law and copyrighted. That’s how important some big name brands consider color to be, so, it’s safe to say your time won’t be wasted in devising a strong palette.
So, without that, let’s get you on your way to building a stunning color palette that looks good and works wonders.
01. Align Your Palette With Color Theory
Color theory (also known as color psychology) is the theory that certain colors elicit certain emotions from people, often subconsciously. It states that we see blue and feel secure and safe, and when we see orange we feel happy and hungry, amongst other things.
So, before we look at what each color specifically means, refer back to your brand values that we established in day 1. What emotions does your brand promote and project? Keep them in the back of your mind and match them up with a color in this color theory chart below:
Which color aligns with your brand’s emotions and personality? Do you feel any particular inclination to use that color in your branding? Don’t worry if the answer is no, because for many people it is.
While color theory is a fantastic tool for explaining why we feel certain ways, don’t let it be the number one deciding factor in your color palette development. You should be able to visually elicit these emotions through your overall design.
02. Build A Palette From Images
Here’s another quick and easy tip to get you started with color palette formation. Find an image that you love and that you feel reflects the mood and essence of your brand, and sample colors from it.
To get you on your way, let’s look at some pre-made color palettes. For more inspiration, be sure to check out these 100 Brilliant Color Combinations.
Use cool colors. Cool colors are colors with blue undertones to them that just appear calmer, and gentler than their red and orange alternatives.
Use warm colors. The opposite to cool colors, warm colors have red and yellow undertones to them. Select a few warm tones to create a welcoming, energetic, and charming palette.
Use a bold feature color. If you want to have one signature color that stands out from the rest, consider balancing that out with some simpler, softer tones as this palette does.
Bump up the saturation. This palette uses heavily saturated colors to create a bold, vibrant combination. By upping the saturation on your tones you can create a striking, energetic palette.
03. Use the Color Wheel
Need to find some colors that work well together quickly? Let’s have a go at using the color wheel itself to create a few color palettes that will consistently look good.
Create a monochromatic color scheme. Simply select any color and add white or black to lighten or darken it. For some inspiration on designing with this monochromatic palette, check out these tips.
Choose two colors from opposite ends of the color wheel to create a complementary color palette and put them in your template. This is a quick way to find two colors that work well together if you’re ever in a jam.
Select three colors that sit directly next to each other on the color wheel to form an analogous color scheme. This will create a small gradient effect in your palette and create a natural and easy to use color palette.
Pick out three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel to create a triadic color palette. This technique will give you three completely different colors that manage to work together harmoniously and effectively.
04. Amp Up The Contrast
When developing a color palette, keep your eye on the degree of contrast between your selected colors when designing with them.
While low contrast colors can look beautiful when paired together, try to avoid using them as foregrounds and backgrounds, particularly when it comes to type. Check this example out:
See how by placing lightly colored type over a lightly colored background the type is made pretty difficult to read? Have a look over your color palette and ask yourself if you have included at least one dark and one light color that each contrast nicely against each other.
05. Test Your Colors Out
Let’s put your new color palette through its paces by applying it in a real world scenario.
Let’s create some mock social media posts. You don’t have to post them, just have a go at devising at least two different (but realistic) social media post layouts with your colors to make sure that your palette is flexible enough to work over multiple situations.
If you find yourself reaching for a new color or struggling to come up with layouts using your brand colors, consider tweaking and adjusting your palette until the design process is smooth and easy for you.
06. Create Color Guidelines
Keeping your colors cohesive is a big part of maintaining your brand. Every time you fail to uphold your own set brand guidelines, you are weakening the visual effectiveness of your brand.
So, to prevent this problem, simply create yourself a set of brand guidelines that will specify exactly which colors you can use. It’s a simple document to make, just check this sample one out:
By simply including a swatch and the HEX code of each color, you create a nifty little cheat sheet for yourself to refer back to whenever you design a new branded project.
- Build yourself a primary color palette, be sure to note and save each HEX code for each color in a brand guideline document
- Experiment with creating a design using your new palette. Does it work? Is it easy to use?