A beginner's guide to branding with color

Strong, consistent branding leads to a strong brand credibility.  Credibility adds value to your company's products or services that allows you to potentially charge more for your brand. 

That's not to say that everything you put out needs to be completely one color. Many businesses have a style guide, complete with a color palette, appropriate fonts to be used, and variations of how the logo can be used.

But, how do you go about picking your brand's color palette?

That's not to say that everything you put out needs to be completely one color. Many businesses have a style guide, complete with a color palette, appropriate fonts to be used, and variations of how the logo can be used.  But, how do you go about picking your brand's color palette?

"I had a hard enough time figuring out what color to make my logo, how am I supposed to choose an entire palette!?"

(Side note: if you DON'T have a color picked yet, read through my quick color guide first.)

Two Warnings

First, I would suggest that you research what your competitor's color palette looks like – if they don't have one, then you are a step ahead! It's important to research this so that you don't create a similar palette. There is a reason that Target didn't include the Wal-Mart blue in their color palette! You want to be sure you separate yourself from your competition.

Second, you may be tempted to change your logo color, thinking that more of your color palette should be incorporated. Let me stop you there. Your entire color palette does NOT have to be in your logo. In fact, most companies who use multiple colors within their logo do that on purpose. Think about it – eBay sells a huge variety of items, thus the variety of colors in their logo. (Not to say that you HAVE to include x-amount of colors for every service or product...)

Choosing the Colors

Now, there's a lot that goes into choosing colors – marketing, psychology, etc. But, I don't want to talk to you about that today. I want to talk you through actually choosing and making your color palette. 

Color harmony is something you may have learned long ago... grade school, maybe high school? Don't worry, I'm going to refresh your memory on what this means. There are a few different ways to create color harmonies:

  • Complementary colors are ones that are opposite each other on the color wheel (example: red and green). They can be tricky to use in large doses, especially because many people associate complementary colors with other things (red and green = Christmas).
  • Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (example: blue and green). They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. Analogous color schemes are often found in nature!

  • Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel (example: green, purple and orange). Triadic color harmonies tend to be more vibrant. To use a triadic harmony well, balance the colors - let one color dominate and use the two others as accent colors.

There's a lot more to picking out your color palette than just picking some of your favorite colors. It's definitely important to choose colors that YOU like, because you're going to be using and staring at these colors for quite awhile :-) But you need to make sure your colors interact well together. Before finalizing your color palette, try putting your logo on top of each color from your palette.  

This is not actually my color palette, as you may have guessed :-)

This is not actually my color palette, as you may have guessed :-)


Here's a look at some style guides from larger corporations!

Adobe:

Click to expand photo, or read all of the guide here.

Google:

Click to expand photo, or read all of the guide here.

MailChimp:

Click to expand the photo, or read all of the guide here.

Creating a color palette for your brand is going to help make you look more credible and professional. Your social media, stationary, and website will look cohesive when you stick to using your color palette! As you can see above, there's no right or wrong way to do it. I would stick to no more than four colors, otherwise it will be more difficult for your collateral to look cohesive. Decide which ones you want to be used as dominate colors, and which ones you want to be accent colors! 

Related: A beginner's guide to typography


Need help creating a color palette? Let's chat!

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