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How to Choose a Brand Identity Color Palette To Match Your Story

How to Choose and Create a Brand Color Palette that Fits Your Brand Story

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

So you’re setting up your own small business, thinking about names, logos, brand colors, etc. Ooh, exciting times!

I was in that stage about 7 years ago, and I was so ready in my head to get everything done! But to be honest, in terms of color, I messed up a bit, initially.

Aah…my failure story. Keep reading below to see where I went wrong, and how I fixed it.

But first let’s see what is a brand identity color palette, and how to choose one for your business.

How to Choose and Create a Brand Color Palette that Fits Your Brand Story - Pinterest

What is a brand color palette?

A brand identity color palette is a set of colors that are specially chosen to represent a brand and one of the fundamental pillars of your brand imagery.

A brand color palette is one of the best examples of brand attributes and a tool for marketing and branding because your brand colors are used in all of your brand’s marketing materials, from website design to printed collateral.

Most brand identity color palettes include both light and dark colors, as well as a variety of shades and tints.

The goal is to create a cohesive look that represents your brand’s core essence and helps to create an instant association with the brand in the minds of your target audience.

Your brand color palette is the set of colors that is associated with your brand, and those that you should always stick to, in every brand communication. Click To Tweet

Why are brand colors important?

Brand colors are important because they help to create a unique and recognizable look for your brand. They are an essential part of any company’s visual identity.

There are four main reasons why brand colors are so important:

1. Brand colors help to create a cohesive visual identity.

A consistent color palette across all marketing materials helps to create a strong and recognizable brand.

2. Brand colors can help to set a company apart from its competitors.

In a crowded marketplace, distinctive brand colors can help your brand stand out from the crowd.

3. Brand colors can impact purchase decisions

85% of consumers are heavily influenced by the colors of a brand and claim it can affect their purchase decisions.

brand color affects purchase decisions

4. Brand colors help your audience to remember your brand.

When you have distinct brand identity color palettes, you have more brand awareness.

Over time, your audience also remembers you more and your colors can create a valuable emotional connection between you and your consumers.

Understanding colors and color theory

Before getting into how to create a brand identity color palette, let’s understand colors and color theory first.

The starting point is the color wheel.

Color wheel

A color wheel is an organizational tool used to select and arrange colors.

The wheel is divided into three types of colors:

1. Three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.

They are the basic colors that are mixed to form other colors.

2. Three secondary colors: orange, green, and purple

Secondary colors are obtained by mixing different primary colors together.

3. Six tertiary colors: red-orange, red-violet, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, and blue-violet.

Tertiary colors are basically different combinations of primary and secondary colors.

Here’s how to understand them visually.

The Color Theory and Wheel

By understanding the relationships between these different colors, you can create different brand color combinations.

Warm and cool colors

Warm colors are those that are typically associated with fire and heat, such as red, orange, and yellow. Warm colors give out an energetic and inviting vibe.

In contrast, cool colors like blue, green, and purple tend to have a calming effect. They often evoke feelings of tranquility and serenity.

Warm Color Palette and Cool Color Palette

Meaning of colors

Colors are all around us, and they can have a powerful impact on our emotions and our behavior.

There are tons of studies on color psychology, about how it affects people. On average, each color represents an emotion, a state of mind.

For example, the color red has been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure, while blue has the opposite effect. Green is often used to symbolize growth or new life, while black can be associated with death or mourning.

So before you fixate on ONE color, try to understand the meaning of each. Here is a snapshot.

color meaning and emotion

Here are some meanings of some key colors and the emotion they invoke in people:

Red
Red is often associated with strong emotions like passion and energy. It’s also seen as a color of strength, courage, and power. These connotations likely come from the fact that red is the color of blood. It’s also the color of fire, which is often used to describe things that are intense or passionate.

In many cultures, red is considered to be a lucky color. It’s often used in traditional clothing and decor, especially during holidays and festivals. Red is also a popular color for branding and marketing, as it’s known to attract attention and boost excitement levels.

Green
Green is the color of life, and it has been associated with health, security, growth, and prosperity for centuries. It is a calming color that can help to reduce stress and promote healing. In terms of financial security, green is often associated with money and success. And in terms of personal growth, green represents new beginnings and self-improvement.

Blue
Blue is one of the most popular colors in the world. It is associated with trust, loyalty, and responsibility. Blue is also a conservative color. The color blue instills confidence in people and creates a sense of stability. It is no wonder that so many companies use blue in their corporate logos. It is a color that people can trust.

Purple
The origins of the color purple can be traced back to ancient times, when it was prized for its rarity and expense. Today, the color purple continues to be associated with wealth and power. But it also symbolizes creativity, fantasy, and imagination. When we see the color purple, we might think of a magical unicorn or a beautiful butterfly.

color meaning and emotion detailed

Read about the meanings of many more colors in this post.

Psychology of colors in branding

Different colors can create different associations in our minds about businesses, and you need to understand this well when you choose your brand color palette.

We all know that we remember many big brands by color. Think McDonalds, Starbucks, Standard Chartered, Vodafone.

The next time you see a piece of marketing material, take a moment to think about the message that the colors are conveying. Chances are, the selection of hues was not an accident.

See below an infographic from The Logo Company on what kind of an emotion/ vibe, different colors reflect for different brands.

brand color psychology

What are the 7 color schemes of brands?

Color schemes are collections of colors used together to create a visual style. They are often picked strategically in order to create a particular effect, evoke emotion, or even send a message.

There are seven main types of color schemes:

  • Monochromatic
  • Analogous
  • Complementary
  • Triadic
  • Tetradic
  • Split complementary
  • Square

One of the first steps in choosing colors for your brand and creating the best brand color combinations is to understand color schemes.

I will cover them all here, along with an example of a brand that matches that color scheme.

1. Monochromatic color scheme

Monochromatic color schemes are created by using different shades, tints, and tones of one color. Monochromatic color schemes are soothing and create a sense of harmony.

Example of a brand with a monochromatic color scheme: Facebook. Colors: Shades of blue.

monochrome color scheme  Facebook color palette - monochromatic color scheme

2. Analogous color scheme

Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous color schemes are warm and inviting.

Example of a brand that has an analogous color scheme: McDonalds. Colors: Red and orange/ yellow

analogous color scheme.jpg  McDonalds color palette - analogous color scheme

3. Complementary color scheme

Complementary color schemes use colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Complementary color schemes are energetic and exciting.

Example of a brand that has a complementary color scheme: Heineken. Colors: Red and green

complementary color scheme.jpg  Heineken color palette - complementary color scheme

4. Triadic color scheme

Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Triadic color schemes are dramatic and eye-catching.

Example of a brand that has a triadic color scheme: Google. Colors: Red, green, blue, and yellow.

triadic color scheme  Google color palette - triadic color scheme.jpg

5. Split-complementary color scheme

In a split complementary color scheme, you have one main color and instead of having one symmetrically opposite color like in a complementary color scheme, you have two colors that are opposite the main colors, to act as supporting colors.

Example of a brand that has a triadic color scheme: Firefox. Colors: Red, orange, yellow, purple.

split complementary color scheme.jpg  Firefox color palette - split complementary color scheme

6. Tetradic color scheme

Tetradic color schemes are made up of four colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel.

You can create a color scheme by picking two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel and then by selecting the two colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. These four colors will form a rectangle on the color wheel.

Example of a brand that has a triadic color scheme: Tide. Colors: Orange, yellow, blue.

tetradic color scheme.jpg  Tide color palette - tetradic color scheme.jpg

7. Square color scheme

A square color scheme consists of four colors that are equally spaced out on the color wheel. A square scheme is basically two sets of complementary colors. Depending on the colors you choose, this set of four colors can create a harmonious and balanced feel for your brand, or a dynamic and high-contrast look.

Example of a brand that has a square color scheme: Slack. Colors: Pink, yellow, green, blue.

square color scheme.jpg  Slack color palette - square color scheme

Here is a summary of the seven types of color schemes you can choose for your brand.

What are the 7 color schemes

Key types of brand colors

A brand color palette consists of mainly three types of colors:

  • Primary or dominant brand colors to use for the majority of your brand’s visuals
  • Secondary or accent colors to use sparingly to add contrast and interest
  • Neutral colors for your texts (black/ shade of grey)

The primary brand colors should be used most frequently, as they will become synonymous with your brand. The secondary or accent colors can be used to add excitement or variety, to emphasize or highlight certain aspects of your marketing.

The neutral colors should be used for all text to ensure legibility.

How to choose a brand identity color palette?

How do you choose a palette that defines your brand, and matches your personality perfectly?

Of course, you want to choose your favorite colors. And colors you think are core to your personality, that you could look at all the time, that feels second nature to you. But here’s the thing.

Your brand color palette has to match your authentic brand story and work for your business. Click To Tweet

You can create your brand color palette in seven steps:

  1. Create your brand story and personality
  2. Research your competition’s brand colors
  3. Identify the feeling you want to invoke in your customers
  4. Choose a primary, dominant color for your brand
  5. Choose your brand color scheme
  6. Identify your secondary brand colors
  7. Add your brand color palette to your brand kit

1. Create your brand story and personality

Your brand color palette is an important part of your brand identity and should be reflective of who you are as a company, and what you stand for.

So before you actually choose your brand colors, create your brand story.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is it that makes you unique? Are you a purpose-driven brand?
  2. What’s the message of your brand and your brand pillars?
  3. What are your brand values? What do you stand for?

Because the more you can stand out in a cluttered industry, with your uniqueness, the more powerful your brand will be.

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4 Comments
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Adnan Alam
5 years ago

Hi very nice article

Arokoyu Timilehin
Arokoyu Timilehin
4 years ago

Very helpful, thanks!

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