The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Creating the Perfect Color Palette for Your Branding!
Believe it or not, there’s a psychology to colors that create different feelings and emotions in our brain, making us take different decisions depending on what colors we see. Even a small difference in the tone or shade can make a huge difference. It is really important to build your color palette before you launch your brand. Your color palette should really reflect the personality and core values of your business that attracts your ideal audience. You wouldn’t choose bright pink to sell men suits, will you? Because it won’t make sense and your ideal client who is a male will think your business is feminine and turn away at the first glance. I really made so many mistakes creating my own color palette even though that’s the first thing I do for my branding clients. I quickly learned about the key secrets of building a color palette which I’ll be sharing with you today! So let’s get back to the topic.
Why is it important to have a fixed color palette before you launch your brand?
The main mistake entrepreneurs make when designing their own brand is not creating the brand for their ideal audience, instead, they just create their brand depending on what colors or designs they personally like. It’s not wrong to build a brand that is so you, actually, it’s a must that the brand reflects your personality but taking the ideal audience in consideration is equally important. Having a fixed color palette before you launch your brand will help you be consistent in growing your business and staying focused on your mission rather than fooling around with so many colors confusing yourself and your audience.
If you don’t have a fixed color palette you are more likely to change your mind time to time, jumping from one palette to another which won’t help you establish a professional, recognizable and authentic brand. You’ll end up creating a lot of graphics and designs for your brand but won’t really create a cohesiveness between them. Your audience will never recognize you if you don’t have a fixed color palette. You may have already have chosen the colors for your brand but ask yourself if those really reflect the personality and core values of your business? If the answer is “NO”, there are always options like re-branding and revamping. So if your colors don’t bring a change you change them. Re-branding is always fine but limits it to less than 4-5 times only, before you grow big!
What’s color psychology? You may ask! Well, it’s a very vast topic which can cover pages and pages to make it brief, let’s only talk about the key points.
Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Our brains create different feelings and emotions when we see certain colors. Color psychology is also widely used in marketing and branding. Many marketers see color as an important part of marketing because color can be used to influence consumers’ emotions and perceptions of goods and services. Companies also use color when deciding on brand logos. These logos seem to attract more customers when the color of the brand logo matches the personality of the goods or services, such as the color pink being heavily used on Victoria’s secret branding. Colors are also important for window displays in stores. Research shows that warm tended to attract spontaneous purchasers, despite cooler colors being more favorable.
Color psychology may differ from person to person, not everybody feels the same way right? Before creating your color palette, decide who is your audience and what’s their demographics. Once you know who your ideal client is, decide on what emotions and feelings you want them to feel when they interact with your brand. That will help you pick the right main dominant colors for your brand.
Let’s see some of the examples of color psychology:
5 Types of color palettes from the color wheel!
The color wheel is widely used by all types of creatives like graphic designer, interior designers, artist, and fashion designers. It is the source of all color palettes. Studying a bit of the color wheel will make your process of choosing a color palette easier. Don’t think there are only 5 different ways to choose a palette from the color wheel but these 5 are the main ones that are mostly used. So here are they:
1 | Monochromatic Color Palette
Monochromatic palettes are the most used palettes in branding. A monochromatic palette is created by choosing a dominant color from the color wheel and choosing 3 shades (darker colors) of the dominant color and 3 tints (lighter colors) than the dominant color. Monochromatic palettes create a very smooth and gradient effect in your branding. It is the easiest palette to maintain without having to pull your hairs off.
2 | Complimentary Color Palette
Complimentary colors a created from the opposite colors of each other in the color wheel. Together both creates a wonderful pairing. Complimentary colors are combinations of both warm and cool colors. You can use the main dominant colors opposite each other or the shades and tints of each other. In both ways, you’ll create a nice popping yet simple color palette.
3 | Analogous Color Palette
Analogous color palettes feature colors that are next to each other on the color wheel creating a cohesive color palette. Analogous color palettes are so versatile when it comes to branding. You can choose between multiple colors but still create cohesiveness between them. The colors won’t be very much different from each other so it will create either a whole warm effect or cool one.
4 | Triad Color Palette
Triad color palettes feature colors that are equal distance from each other from the color wheel. Even though this is one of my favorite color palettes to work with, it isn’t really easy to maintain. This palette will create an actionable palette but may end up in getting messed up easily. The best way to use this palette is to use one of the colors as the dominant and use it most and use the rest of the colors as accents.
5 | Neutral with a Pop of Color
Neutral with a pop of color is a color palette that features all neutral colors with ONE color that pops off the rest. This type of color palettes is becoming more popular these days. Neutral palettes are just how it sounds like. You can just choose one bright or subtle color as your dominant color and go with neutral ones. If you are looking to create a palette that’s stress-free to maintain you should really go with this one.
The Secret Sauce to Building a Color Palette that Lasts!
As you have already learned about color psychology and color wheel palette, let’s put all the pieces of the puzzle together. If you have already created a business and been on the internet for a while, by now you know that the important part of building a lasting brand is having clarity! Having clarity on what is your business is all about and for whom is it aimed for? Right? The same steps apply to build a color palette. So I am not gonna talk about it in detail. You should know the personality and core values of your business to build a color palette that showcases your awesomeness at the same time attracting your ideal client. To do that simply follow these steps:
1 | Describe your brand personality using adjectives!
Describing your brand personality using adjectives will help you to convert those words into colors which reflect its meaning. Once you have at least 5-6 words that describe your brand personality you can generate a color palette that matches. Also, make sure to include words of feelings and emotions which you want your audience to feel about your brand. For example: Trustworthy, Feminine, Motivating, Cheerful, Welcoming, Luxury, Spiritual, Healthy (You name it).
2 | Convert that adjectives into colors!
How do I do that? You might ask, right? Remember the color psychology we spoke about? Use it to the fullest. Research which color represents the personality and core values. You are not limited to choose only the dominant color, go for accents too. Then use the color wheel to decide what type palette you gonna create.
3 | Test the colors before building the palette!
This part of the process is so damn important. You must put your color to test before you even build the palette. You must create graphics and designs you’ll be mostly using these colors for and try testing it. Does the color fit? Do they match with each other? Are they producing that feeling that you want your clients to feel? Are they cohesive? Very importantly, have you chose the right shade or tint? Even a slight change can make a huge difference. Make gradients, vectors or anything that you’ll be using on your brand and applies the colors on them. Decide which one should be dominant and decide the purpose of each accent colors. Consistency is key here. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Put it to test and choose what fits.
The Structure of a Branding Color Palette!
So now you know how to choose your colors and now let’s see how to build them. A color palette’s structure defines which color goes where. It’s a navigation for you to use your colors across your branding without losing focus. There are 3 – 4 parts of a color palette. They are Darker and Lighter (for website backgrounds and texts), Dominant or Iconic, Action and Accents. Let’s see it in more detail below:
1 | Website Background and Texts Color (Darker + Lighter)
The background color of a website has to be either so bright or so dark, I know you might be having plans to sprinkle some rainbows in there but trust me when I say that won’t work all the time. If you choose to have a colorful background then everything else has to be either black or white otherwise you will end up creating a site that is like scare away your audience than welcoming them. And we can’t avoid the fact that distracting colors on background hurt the eyes. The best option is to have a white background and black texts, of course, you can use white texts on colorful areas.
2 | Dominant or Iconic Color
Dominant color aka iconic color is the main color of your brand design which will be most used all across your business. When people see that color they will click it right away on the first glance without even having a second thought, and that’s what makes your brand recognizable! Awesome right? So choose the best color possible as your dominant color. Most of the time your dominant color will be used on your logos too.
3 | Action Color
Action color! One of the main color of your brand design. This color will be used on links, buttons, and places where you want your audience to take action. Choosing an actionable color for this is really important because this is the color that converts. I would recommend using a color that creates trust in your audience and at the same time, it has to pop out of the box.
4 | Accent Colors
Accent colors are like alternatives or variations of your brand’s dominant color. Having a specific purpose for each color will make it easy to maintain. Accent colors are the secondary colors of your brand design. For example use it for different types of blog post templates, as a gradient for website background, vectors for your brand design etc. You can have up to 4 accent colors but 2 having only 2 is easier to maintain.
Now you know everything about choosing your colors for your color palette and you also know the structure of a branding color palette now let’s see how you can actually CREATE/DESIGN a color palette on your own for your branding. Ready?
How to define a color?
There are two different types of colors you need for your branding, it is web colors and print colors. There are 4 ways or methods to define a specific color. Two definitions for web-based projects and two definitions for print-based projects. Web browsers display colors different than printers’ colors. You need different definitions to get the same result for both mediums. Make sure to have both web-based color codes and print-based color codes in your branding color palette.
Method 1 | Hexadecimal code [web-based color]
A hexadecimal code (aka hex-code) is a 6-digit code with a ‘#’ before it, which is used to define web-based colors. The first 2 digit describe the red additive of the color, the second 2 digits describe the green and the third describe the intensity of the blue color.
Basically it defines how much of each color has to be mixed to make the particular color you want. Every single web-based colors has its unique own hex-code! It is one of the easiest way to define a web color and the one which I personally use the most!
Method 2 | RGB code [web-based color]
RGB stands for the primary colors such as RED, GREEN and BLUE just like the Hex-codes. RGB color system creates colors by combining the primary colors in different degrees. In RGB colors each letter is represented with a number from 0 to 255, which represents the intensity of that specific color (0 is the lowest and 255 is the highest).
When all three letters represent a higher value 255,255,255 the system creates a pure white and when it represents the lowest value 0,0,0 the system creates a pure black.
For example have a look at the Image (H) below: to create the purple in the image the three primary colors has to be mixed in different degrees. Red: 128 | Green: 98 | Blue: 212 and together it will create the exact purple you want no matter what design platform you use. You can of course use the Hexcode or RGB to get the exact same color but you need both the codes in your brand color palette for your web based projects.
Method 3 | CMYK code [print-based color]
I have already told you about the 2 different definitions of web based colors, now let’s talk about the definitions of print based colors. You’ll need print based colors for your branding materials like business cards, stationary and more… so choosing the right print color is really important.
The first method is CMYK which simply stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These are the ink colors that will be inside any printers. The printer decides how many percentage of each CMYK color has to be mixed in order to print the specific color you choose. Have a look at the image (K) below: it shows each percentage of CMYK colors that has to be mixed to get that dark purple and it also shows the Hex-code and RGB code of the exact same color. Having the CMYK codes of your brand color in your brand color palette is essential.
Method 3 | PMS code [print-based color]
Not every printer will print the same colors even if your printing the same project. So here’s a bonus method to print the exact same color no matter what type of printer you use.
PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, and it’s a proprietary system that was created to standardize print colors across industries, printers and locations. So you can get the exact same color no matter what.
Unlike the other three methods PMS color can’t be defined by intensity, hexcodes or percentages. Though those parameters are used to find the PMS equivalent of a hexcode, RGB, or CMYK definition.
You can find the PMS color codes for your brand colors using a color converter like this. Some design software like Photoshop have built-in PMS colors codes too.
How to generate or design a color palette on your own?
There are so many ways to create a color palette, 1) is to generate a color palette 2) is to design a color palette on your own. There are so many websites today where you can generate a color palette for absolutely free. I’ll guide you through some of those and I’ll also teach you how to design a palette on Photoshop and Illustrator. Awesome right? So let’s dive in:
1 | How to generate a color palette using free color generator websites and tools?
There are so many websites where you can generate a color palette for free just by giving a keyword, choosing a dominant color or just by uploading an image and a color palette will be produced automatically. Cool isn’t it? I’ll give you the details and descriptions of a few such sites and tools below:
• Canva Palette Generator
Canva is an awesome online graphic design tool where you can create awesome graphics and templates for any needs. Canva also has an awesome tool called “Canva Palette Generator”, where you can simply upload an image you like the most and it will generate a five-color palette with hex codes and names. It is one of the easiest ways to produce a nice looking color palette that you’ll love. Just rearrange the color order and add a white and black color and you are ready to go!
• Color Hex
Color Hex is one of my favorite sites to create colors from the color wheel. All you have to do is type a color’s hex, rgba or name on the search bar and it will pull out for you all the codes and information for you. It will create Shades, Tints, Triadic, Analogous, Monochromatic and Complementary color palettes from that single color. Not only that this tool has advanced features like displaying how the color looks on black and white backgrounds and generating CSS codes to design using that color. It will also pull out some related colors for you. This site has varieties of different premade palettes that you can use on your branding.
• Htlm Color Codes
This is another advanced color generating site packed up with so many different features. This sites generating process just works as the color hex site. You simply choose one color and it will create different types of palettes from the color wheel. You can also download the palettes in different formats. My favorite part of this site is, it gives you the name of any color which is so cool and handy when it comes to branding.
• ColorZilla and more…
Colorzilla is an extension for both Firefox and Chrome. It works just like any other color picker tool we use on design tools. You simply click on the extension and go hovering over the website to choose any color displayed and it’ll pull out the color codes for you. You can simply copy it to the clipboard and use it right away. As easy as that. There’s an advanced option called “CSS Gradient Generator”, which will be so useful if you are a web designer.
There’s plenty of such tools available on the internet like ColorLovers, Adobe Color CC, and Design Seeds etc.… All of these tools works pretty much the same way. Explore them and go with whichever fits you.
2 | How to design your own color palette on Photoshop?
Don’t worry you don’t have to do it all from scratch all by yourself, I have done the 90% of the process for you. Just download the “Color Palette PSD File” mentioned below and follow these instructions:
Step 1 | Download the Brand Color Document:
Fill the form below and click “Send me the Photoshop document button“. The file will be send to you via the email address you provided. Download it, unzip and open the file using Photoshop!
Step 2 | Change brand colors:
Once you open the document go to Layers → and open “Colors | Edit this (Group)” as shown in the image below (Image (A)) → Then double tap on the Dominant color (circled in red in the Image A below) → Replace the color with your brand’s dominant color from the Color Picker menu that appears. Repeat this step to all colors! Replace every color with your brand colors. If you don’t have Layers visible just go to Window → Layer or Press F7.
Step 3 | Change color codes:
Once you replace all your brand colors, its time to change the details of the color codes. Write down all the color codes in Hexcodes, CMYK, and RGB on a piece of paper before you get started. Now select the Text tool (or press [T] on keyboard) → Hover over the texts shown below on Image (B) and left click once → Then change the code details like you would normally edit a text document → 1) Hexcode 2) CMYK code 3) RGB of the particular brand color → Press Ctrl + Enter to release cursor. Repeat this step to all the color codes!
Step 4 | Change color names, the color emotion and style guide details:
It’s time to get deep into your color palette details. Select Text tool (T) → Hover over to the details text as shown on the Image (C) below → First give a name to that particular color → Then the color psychology or the emotion that particular color represents → at last give a detail on how the color has to be used, it’s purpose and more (style guide) → Then press Ctrl + Enter to release text editing. Repeat this step all the colors.
Step 5 | Insert your website name:
Almost done… but you have to type your own brand’s name in the bottom line. To do that select Text tool (T) → Hover over to the bottom line as shown in the image (D) below → Left click to type → Type your brand name or website url, example: www.yourwebsite.com → Press Ctrl + Enter to release cursor! And you are done!
Step 6 | Save the document:
Once everything is done it’s time to save your awesome brand color palette! Go to File → Save As → Type a name for your document and choose the destination → on the save as type: choose Photoshop (.PSD) → And click Save!
Then Again Press Shift + Ctrl + S → On the save as menu give a name to the file → and on the save as type: choose .JPEG and click save.
You can also save the file into .PNG .PDF and more! But its not really necessary now!
And that’s it your beautiful one of a kind brand color palette is ready! Share the Win Win Gurl!
♥ | If you don’t have a fixed color palette you are more likely to change your mind time to time, jumping from one palette to another which won’t help you establish a professional, recognizable and authentic brand. You’ll end up creating a lot of graphics and designs for your brand but won’t really create a cohesiveness between them. Your audience will never recognize you if you don’t have a fixed color palette.
♥ | Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Our brains create different feelings and emotions when we see certain colors. Color psychology is also widely used in marketing and branding. Many marketers see color as an important part of marketing because color can be used to influence consumers’ emotions and perceptions of goods and services. Companies also use color when deciding on brand logos. These logos seem to attract more customers when the color of the brand logo matches the personality of the goods or services, such as the color pink being heavily used on Victoria’s secret branding. Colors are also important for window displays in stores. Research shows that warm tended to attract spontaneous purchasers, despite cooler colors being more favorable.
♥ | There are 5 types of color palettes that you can create from the color wheel. They are: Monochromatic, Complimentary, Analogous, Triad, and Neutral with a pop of color.
♥ | The secret sauce to building a color palette that lasts are: Describing the brand personality using adjectives, then converting those emotions into colors and last testing your colors together before building your palette.
♥ | Structure of the branding color palette: 1) Website background + Text Colors | 2) Dominant or Iconic Color | 3) Action Color | 4) Accent Colors.
♥ | There are 2 types of colors: web-based colors and print-based colors. And there are 4 methods of defining these colors. They are: Hexadecimal colors, CMYK colors, RGB colors and PMS colors.
♥ | There are sites and tools where you can generate your color palette for free and these are some of them: Canva Palette Generator, Color Hex, Htlm color codes, ColorZilla, ColorLovers, Adobe Color CC and Design Seeds!
♥ | You can design your own color palette on Photoshop using my Free Photoshop Brand Color Palette Document Displayed Below!
So now you know everything about “how to choose and build the perfect color palette for your brand design!”
Oh and one more thing before you go! Don’t forget to grab your FREE PHOTOSHOP BRAND COLOR DOCUMENT!!!
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