Are you struggling with picking out your business brand color palette? Then this post might just help you figure it all out (and take away all the frustration and stress). So, what is a color palette, and… why is it important for branding?
A color palette is a range of colors that can be used in many different areas. We see color palettes all over from graphic and interior design, to fashion and make-up. Modern color palettes, in the digital world, utilize sophisticated color selection tools composed of hexadecimal values to choose from a wide variety of hues and tints. However, you may be more familiar with the color wheels that graphic designers, interior designers, and even fashion designers still use today!
What are the different types of color palettes?
Not all color is created equal when it comes to branding. Creating a totally awesome color palette for your brand isn’t just picking out your favorite colors. That’s what your living room curtains and throw pillows are for.
As we go through the different types of color palettes, I’m going to take you on a whirl around the color wheel and play a little match making. Not the Tinder kind, but you get the idea.
Like any relationship, on paper it might look like a match made in heaven (don’t they all at the beginning), but in reality it’s more like a spring fling.
I want you to find your happily ever after for your color palette, and your brand, so let’s take the wheel for a spin!
1. Monochromatic Color Palette
Monochromatic palettes are one of the most popular color palettes used in branding, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow along with the crowd. These palettes consist of shades (darker) and tints (lighter) of one single color on the color wheel.
Using a monochromatic color palette makes stacking different website elements slightly easier than some other palettes because the colors are closely related to each other.
Kayla from Ivory Mix keeps it simple by using varying shades and tints of rose gold. This creates a beautiful contrast in her visuals.
She uses the tints for her backgrounds and overlays, and the shades for buttons and links, which makes her calls to action really POP! It still maintains a very soft feminine feel, which works great for the blog and her personality. BTW, I’m totally diggin’ her new logo!
2. Complimentary Color Palette
Complimentary colors, in match making terms, would be the case of opposites attract. One is a warm color, the other cold, and the two together bring out the best in each other.
They are found directly opposite of each other on the color wheel, and it’s one of my favorite types for branding.
Marianne, at Design Your Own Blog, uses a teal and coral pairing for her complimentary colors.
Notice that she also adds in the tints and shades of the teal and coral. Utilizing the monochromatic palettes of both colors are still a complimentary pairing.
3. Analogous Color Palettes
Analogous color palettes feature colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel. It is one of the most versatile palettes for branding because they usually share all “warmer” qualities (red, orange, and yellow), or “cooler” qualities (purple, blue, and green). Here is a great example of the analogous color palette in use.
Painted Summers uses a cool toned analogous color palette (blue, green and purple) with pops of a warmer tone, magenta. The bonus of sticking to colors that are close to each other on the color wheel allows you to show an abundance of color in your design without it being distracting or thrown together.
4. Triad Color Palettes
Triad color palettes feature three colors that are equal distance from each other on the color wheel, like drawing an imaginary triangle. This can be the most challenging color palette to work with in branding because the combo can become quite busy and haphazard… quickly.
Secret Key is a perfect example of a triad palette in use. The three colors they use (purple, orange, and green) create a perfect triangle on the color wheel. Notice how purple is the main color in use, with just pops of the accent colors – orange and green. This is a perfect balance for the trio!
5. Neutral with pops of color
Neutral color palettes with pops of color is exactly what it says it is. It features all neutral colors (black, white, and gray) with a pop of a single color. This color can be bright and vibrant, or more subtle in nature.
These minimalist type palettes have become REALLY popular over the past couple of years, and for good reason.
On the match making table, this palette would be like a large room filled with a bunch of people. There’s almost always that ONE person with a huge personality. They may be loud and boisterous, flutter around and talk to everyone like a social butterfly, or just plain out have no filter. We all have that one person in our lives, or maybe YOU are the big personality!
Brianna from Spiked Parenting shows us that having a bright pop of color with a minimalistic layout of black and white can really knock it out of the park. The bright color is utilized to draw attention to her calls to action (CTA), and it really makes you want to click the button to take her quiz! (I couldn’t resist… I took the quiz, and yes it was spot on!)
How many colors should I use?
There is no fixed answer to this question. In general, however, the risk of using too many colors far outweighs the risk of using too few. Ultimately the choice is up to you.
Start with three colors
A three color combo is a great starting point to create variation and visual interest. One of the easiest types of color palettes to use to get this effect is the Analogous Color Palette. The three colors will blend quite well throughout your website.
You’ll want to divide the colors into these three categories.
- Background – Use a light color for the background of your website. This will allow any brighter or darker colors to stand out.
- Base – This is your MAIN color.
- Accent – This is a secondary color that can be used for CTA’s (buttons, links, important text/headlines)
Apply the 60-30-10 Rule of Design
Another option, and one most used in all types of design, is the 60/30/10 rule. The rule states for the most balanced, appealing look, you should choose three colors and use it as follows:
- 60% – Main Dominant Color
- 30% – Secondary Color
- 10% – Accent colors
This rule is very similar to using background, base, and accent colors, but also allows for a little bit more wiggle room into the design.
Pro Tip: Design your website in grayscale (black, white, and gray) to figure out the best way to implement your colors!
How Can I Create a Color Palette?
There are many online easy-to-use tools to help you create your color palette. (Did I mention that most of them are FREE?) Here are just a handful of my favorites:
Not only is PicMonkey a great resource to create your social media images, but you can also create color palettes using their collage feature. They even created a tutorial that steps you through the process!
Canva helps pick out color palettes from images. Just find a picture that appeals to you from one of these image websites, and their handy tool will pick out the colors for you. Unfortunately, there’s no way to export or save the color palettes. You’ll have to use the snipping tool (Windows), capture a screenshot, or write down the hexadecimal codes for color reference.
Coolors also has image upload feature just like Canva, with a few more bells and whistles (like using a direct link to an image). If you already know the hex code for your main color, you can plug it in and lock the color. Then just hit the spacebar to randomize the colors. Coolers auto-generates the colors for you using the different types of color palettes mentioned above.
Added Bonus: You can save the color palette to your computer by clicking on the export link in the top right corner!
Colormind is similar to Coolors as it allows you to generate colors, plug them in yourself, and lock the colors you like. What makes this site just a tad bit cooler? You can actually see what the colors look like in a sample website just by scrolling down after you selected your colors! Sometimes I even find myself on this page when I bored, just looking at all the pretty color combinations it comes up with.
The only downside to this site, like Canva, there’s no way to export your color palette into an image, so you’ll have to take a screenshot, or write down the hex codes.
Color palettes play an important role in helping us create brand identity. Now that you know how to create one, it’s time to craft one up for your business.
Want to share your palette with the Digital Design Deals community? Head on over to the Facebook page and show us what you created!