How to select a color palette for your branding
Color is such an integral part of branding. It conveys the mood + tone of your brand, in the most visual way. But where do you start? Each color has a psychological response attached to it — whether it is warm/friendly, peaceful, or rustic. Once you have just a couple colors you are confident in for your brand, you can expand those colors into a unique palette.
Without getting into the weeds of color theory, there are a few basic color scheme concepts that are worth mentioning. These color schemes have been in use for centuries. Here are a few definitions + visual examples above to provide a bit of clarity:
Made up of various shades + tints within a specific color. These are pretty simple to create, since they derive from the same color palette.
Created using three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. This adds a bit more diversity than a monochromatic palette.
Made up of colors that are on opposing sides of the color wheel. When reduced to the simplest form, the palette contains two colors, but can easily be expanded by combining shades + tints of these hues. If you use the two exact opposites right next to each other in a composition, it can appear to vibrate and make the user feel dizzy!
Similar to complimentary, however instead of using the color exactly opposite, you select colors on either side of the hue opposite of your basic hue.
Made up of hues equally spaced around the color wheel. This makes for the most diverse color scheme.
These color schemes are a great starting point. For branding, I recommend not only having a primary palette, but also a secondary color profile at hand. The secondary palette is great to use for illustrations, accent colors, or if your brand is calling for something a bit different than the standard primary palette. When I worked at a university, we had two primary colors, and about ten secondary colors. Trust me, at some point you will an extended palette to incorporate into your branding.
Our top 10 stunning color palettes
How Many Colors?
I would recommend 3 primary colors, especially for use on your website. Following that it is really up to you or your designer. Personally, I have SO many colors in my secondary palette as you can see in my branding palette below. Some of these are tints of one another though, and I feel confident as a professional designer in how to handle this wide color palette effectively. For clients, I limit the palette a bit more, so they don’t feel overwhelmed, and I can direct them to a more cohesive look with minimal effort.
Add in a Neutral Color Palette
Though often overlooked, neutrals are just as important in developing a color palette. I have found that I am always looking for a neutral to go with my colors, so much so that I created an additional neutral color palette for my brand. These could include grays, white, cream, or even light tints of your main palette (light blush, peach, gray/green). Neutral colors help tie in your brand even more.
How to Pick a Color Palette
There are SO many ways to go about selecting a color palette. If you aren’t as familiar with working with color or design, I would recommend utilizing one of the formulas above. There are also numerous sites or apps available that either curate beautiful color palettes, or help you create them. Here are just a few: Coolors, Design Seeds, or my color inspiration Pinterest board! Overall, just have fun with exploring different palettes! Look beyond the computer — painted houses in your neighborhood, nature, your favorite outfit, etc. Possibilities are endless!
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that right now, I am visiting New Orleans with my husband for a little vacation! I am having so much fun here, and am constantly inspired by the color palettes sprinkled throughout this adorable city. If you appreciate design + art, you would love the New Orleans architecture! Since we are talking all about color palettes today, I couldn’t help but share a few of my favorite color palettes I spotted while roaming through the streets of NOLA:
Examples of Brands With Effective Color Palettes
Just for fun, I thought I would throw in a few examples of websites that take advantage of great color palettes. Get ready to be inspired!
Do you have any insights on effectively selecting colors for branding? I would love to see examples, or methods that have worked for you!
Searching for the right colours + Fonts for you brand? - FreshSage
[…] How to Select a Color Palette for Your Branding […]
I m not sure I get how you pick the split complimentary colors?
Also, I think it would be very interesting to see real-life examples of your color-work (the thoughts behind etc). and palettes for clients – would that be possible, you think?
Thanks for great inspiration anyway;-)
What is your color story? - Spruce Rd.Spruce Rd.
[…] guys! For the past few weeks I have shared the psychology of color, as well as how to select a color palette for your brand, but I wanted to go a step further and provide you guys with a few color palettes specific to your […]
Psychology of color for your brand - Spruce Rd.Spruce Rd.
[…] I shared a few resources on creating unique color palettes for your branding. But how do you choose which colors you want to incorporate for your personal […]
I have no idea if this makes any sense, but I’ll try. While your color palette isn’t something I’d use myself (I have a very strict peacock blue/mustard yellow/aqua/gray/white color palette for EVERYTHING), I absolutely adore it and how it reflects in your site/blog. Looks so, so good. Great blog post 🙂
LOVE your peacock color palette! I love that everyone can have a different color scheme to reflect their personal taste + brand vision!
I’m a little obsessed with your brand colors 🙂 I have a thing for interesting color combinations, and yours is simply stunning! Completely unrelated, I was looking at your pattern designs and thought a tutorial on how to make repeatable patterns in Illustrator would make a great Lunch + Learn topic!
Thanks so much Kelsey! I love an interesting color palette 🙂 I will write that pattern design tutorial down for a future lunch + learn topic! Thanks for the idea!
This is a great post! I’m just about to go through the process of redesigning my website and I’ve got to pick a new colour palette – I’m so stuck! I really don’t know which colours to go for, but I’m going to have a look through your ideas now and see what I can come up with – thanks!
Great timing! It is SO hard to commit sometimes, especially for your own brand. Hoping this post inspires you and you settle on a color scheme you are confident with!
Oh, color, how I love you! 🙂 It’s so fun to pick colors and play around with schemes! And holy moly, I loveeeee those website – definitely bookmarking them – so beautiful! Also, it looks as though I need to make a trip to NOLA ASAP! Looks like you are having a great time!
Aren’t those websites gorgeous?!? Really shows the impact a good color palette can have! And YES – hop on a plane and come to NOLA! If only to gawk at the adorable houses sprinkled throughout the city!
Sara @ Cake Over Steak
Thanks for sharing! I’m currently working on a redesign of my blog, so this came at the perfect time.
Great timing! Have fun selecting a color palette for your blog!
I’m so into color-picking lately and this post comes just in time! I’m kind of studying colors and color schemes and I even thought of making a small ebook to share on my blog. And if I do, I’ll include this post as a reference! Thank you! 🙂
That’s a great idea Monica! I’m pretty into color myself 🙂
This is just what I needed! I’m working on my color palette right now, and I’m finally figuring out my primary colors. I also love the idea of having a neutral palette! I feel so blah just using white, so I’ll definitely be incorporating tints of my main colors. Thank you for this!!
So glad this came at a great time for you! Neutral color palettes are a great addition, and another option to using white!
Great minds! I was going to talk about branding colors expanded into how to create a whole color palette for blogging and branding this week!! The more talking and teaching about these things the better 😉
Perfect! Agreed – can’t talk too much about how to incorporate color into our brand!