Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Choosing your color palette is one of the most important things you can do for your brand. Did you know that 85% of consumers believe color is the biggest motivator when choosing a product, while 92% feel that visual appearance is the most influential marketing factor overall? Seeing how much visual aesthetic influences your customers, you really want to put time and effort into something as small as a color palette!
Psychologists, or more specifically, Color Theorists have done extensive research to prove that colors go hand in hand with emotions and remains similar to humans around the world. Yellow brings a similar feeling of joy and happiness to people from Alaska to Bali. You want to use that kind of thought process when choosing colors for your brand.
Also, consistency is key! Think of big companies like Target and Twitter. They're brand design and color palette has not significantly changed and to think day, there's not a person (at least in America) that cannot immediately see their colors. That kind of color association makes your brand memorable.
So, how do you choose a color palette? Here, I have 4 easy tips for best practices when choosing your palette:
1. Choose AT LEAST 3 colors
You'll need a base, accent and neutral color to start. Your brand can have between one and five colors. Even if you choose a monochrome scheme, you'll still need a variation of the hues so it's not so, well, monochrome. You don't want to visually bore your customers or viewers. But, if you want to keep it simple, it's okay to stick with three colors.
2. Choose your BASE color
Every brand has a personality, whether it's rich and sassy or homey and down to Earth. Brands can be complex and have many traits. Identify which trait is the most dominant and go from there. If your brand is very POWERFUL, what colors make you think of power? Red, maybe gold? You also want that color to also appeal to your target demographic. Who are you trying to draw in? Maybe your target audience is nature lovers, so think of forest green or aqua blue. The remaining colors will follow your base color's lead.
3. Choose your ACCENT color
Your accent color is second in command, used most after your base color. Think of super old fashioned military uniforms, you know, the flamboyant ones from Europe in the 1700-1800s. The general would have all this beautiful regalia, big feathers in their hat, bright blue or red coats. Then, their second in command would look similar, just more subdued in maybe a deep gray coat. You want your base and accent to have a similar concept. Choose a color to pair visually with your base, but still brings out another personality trait.
4. Choosing your NEUTRAL color
This is more like a background color, something chosen to draw attention to the other two colors or to just be there like white noise. What do you think of when you hear "neutral," aside from Switzerland? Sort of a soft hue, like gray, or beige, or off-whites. Black can sometimes dominate the color scheme, so it has to be chosen wisely, like Chipotle's brand. You could even choose a softer hue of your base or accent colors! In the end, there are no concrete rules to brand marketing, just suggestions and guidelines. Study what's worked in the past, get to know your brand's personality, and go with your gut! Emotions play a part in every aspect of life, and that includes your brand design. Lastly, have fun with it! Playing with colors has always brought me joy. Adults in the paint section at the hardware store are like kids in a candy shop. It's exciting to choose colors to uplift your brand!