Your Ultimate Guide choosing an irresistible brand colour palette!
One of the most frequent inquiries I receive from clients is, "How many colours should my logo or brand incorporate?" The answer, I'm delighted to say, is that there are no rigid rules in this creative journey – it's meant to be enjoyable! However, there are valuable guidelines that I recommend following when selecting your brand's colour palette.
The Basics of Colour Theory
Understanding the Language of Colour
In the world of design and visual aesthetics, colour is not just a matter of personal preference; it's a powerful tool that can convey emotions, evoke feelings, and communicate messages. To make the most of colour in design, it's crucial to understand the fundamental principles of colour theory. Let's start with the basics by defining some key terms and concepts that will lay the foundation for your exploration of the fascinating world of colour.
1. Hue: The Starting Point of Colour
At its core, colour begins with hue. Hue refers to the actual colour of an object or element, such as blue, red, or yellow. When you imagine a "colour wheel," you're essentially visualising different hues arranged in a circle.
2. Chroma: Measuring Colour Purity
Chroma is the degree of purity of a colour. It indicates how pure or vivid a hue is, without any admixture of white, black, or grey. In essence, it represents the "intensity" of a colour. Colours with high chroma are more vibrant, while those with lower chroma appear muted or pastel.
3. Saturation: The Strength of a Colour
Saturation refers to the strength or intensity of a colour. It's about how vivid a colour appears to the human eye. Highly saturated colours are vivid and strong, while desaturated colours appear more subdued and muted.
4. Value: Light and Dark
Value is a critical aspect of colour theory. It determines how light or dark a colour is. In a grayscale, or black and white, context, value is the sole distinguishing factor between different colours. The range of values between pure white and pure black forms a scale that can be applied to any colour.
5. Tone: Adding Grey to Hues
Tone is a colour created by adding grey to a pure hue. This process reduces the chroma of the hue and makes it less vibrant. Toned colours often appear more subtle and sophisticated compared to their high-chroma counterparts.
6. Shade: Introducing Darkness
Shade is produced by adding black to a pure hue. This darkens the colour while maintaining its hue. Shades are often used to create depth, contrast, and dramatic effects in design.
7. Tint: Bringing in Lightness
Tint is created by adding white to a hue. This process lightens the colour while preserving its hue. Tints are ideal for achieving pastel and soft colour variations, often used in delicate and airy design schemes.
By grasping these essential colour terms, you're now better equipped to explore the intricate world of colour theory. Understanding these foundational concepts will help you make informed and creative choices when working with colour in various design projects. Stay tuned for more in-depth insights into the principles of colour theory and how to harness them to create impactful and visually compelling designs.
Things to consider while brainstorming
Keep Your Ideal Client in Mind: It's crucial to consider your ideal audience throughout the entire branding process, not just when choosing colours and fonts. To shape your palette effectively, ask yourself how you want people to feel when they interact with your brand or product. Is your brand synonymous with luxury and sophistication, or does it exude an earthy and sustainable vibe? Perhaps it radiates positivity and upliftment.
When it comes to colour selection, warm tones often evoke feelings of happiness and warmth, while cooler tones tend to promote a sense of calm. If your brand aligns with higher-end products or services, the incorporation of elements like metallic foil, spot/raised gloss, or embossing can certainly elevate its perceived value.
Start with One or Two Core Colors: Once your brand's objectives are clear, I recommend commencing with one or two core colours, from which you can expand your palette. For instance, if you decide to make dark green your primary colour, begin with a shade like moss green. Then, explore related colours within the moss green spectrum, such as sage or olive. You might also consider adding a muted terracotta or a soft beige to complement the warm tones.
Incorporate Contrast for a Pop of Color: The fun part is introducing some contrast into your palette. Opt for a colour that sits opposite on the colour wheel to add a vibrant pop of colour, but use it sparingly. Following the example above, you could introduce a bright, warm, and muted colour like orange or yellow, ensuring it harmonizes with the rest of your brand's colour palette.
Remember that brand colour palettes can consist of multiple colours or shades, or they can remain minimal with just one or two fundamental colours. When curating your palette, it's wise to avoid overwhelming contrasts, as too many opposing colours can be disorienting. Instead, aim for a harmonious palette with warm or cool undertones, along with supporting colours and shades.
What separates the good palettes from the great palettes?
Don't think of it as a tick-box exercise; use it to elicit a response from your potential clients.
Emotional Impact: Remember that colours have the power to evoke emotions and feelings. Consider the emotional impact you want your brand to have and how your chosen colours align with these desired emotions.
Accessibility and Inclusivity: Accessibility is a vital consideration in modern branding. Ensure that your colour choices are inclusive and that text and information are readable, especially for individuals with visual impairments. High contrast, legible fonts, and an understanding of colour blindness considerations can make your brand more accessible.
Consistency Across Platforms: When choosing your brand's colour palette, consider how it will appear across various mediums and platforms. Colours can appear differently on screens, in print, or on different materials. It's essential to select colours that remain consistent and convey the same message across all these channels.
Top tips from the experts
Implementing the 60-30-10 rule is a time-tested approach to achieving colour balance in your branding. This classic interior design principle maintains its relevance, as it harmonizes colours effectively. The genius behind this formula lies in its ability to guide the eye seamlessly from one focal point to the next. Plus, it's incredibly user-friendly. In this rule, your colours are distributed as follows: 60% for the dominant hue, 30% for the secondary colour, and 10% for an accent shade. Even when your palette extends beyond three colours (though, do aim to keep it under five for optimal clarity), adhering to this proportional balance ensures a cleaner and more visually comfortable experience for your audience.
When seeking the most compelling colour combinations, nature often serves as an unparalleled source of inspiration. Nature's palettes remain consistently organic and harmonious. What's even more enticing is that the environment offers a perpetually evolving colour spectrum.
From the gentle shades of sunrise to the vibrant hues of a beach scene, you'll find an array of unique palettes adaptable to your design needs. To harness these organic palettes, you can employ tools like Adobe Capture, which we'll delve into in the upcoming section. This resource allows you to extract colour inspiration from photographs and seamlessly integrate them into your various design applications.
The Colour Palette Formula
This formula is the cornerstone of crafting a cohesive and versatile palette that will harmoniously tie together your brand's identity across various mediums and applications.
1-2 MAIN COLOURS | 1-3 NEUTRAL COLOURS | 1-2 ACCENT COLOURS
The Main Colours: These are the cornerstone of your brand's visual identity. Your main colours are the go-to hues that represent your brand. They should be the primary choice when selecting colours for your website, printed materials, and other brand assets. For instance, my brand is built around a combination of dusty grey and lavender, along with a deep charcoal grey. These main colours are utilised for website backgrounds, stationery designs, and even play a role in the colour schemes of my photographs, such as the shades of my clothing and nail polish.
The Neutral Colours: Neutral colours play a vital role in pulling your brand's palette together. They provide the backdrop against which your main colours shine. Neutrals can include soft creams that add warmth to your brand, gentle pale greys, and more. They are often employed for text, patterns, or textures with subtle, understated nuances. Neutrals may also extend to elements like the type of paper used for printed materials or the filters applied to images.
The Accent Colours: Accent colours are the perfect complements to your main hues. They are used sparingly but strategically to enhance your brand's visual appeal. In my case, I introduce a distinctive dirty saffron shade and a lighter pale lavender, both used in moderation. These accent colours can be employed for buttons, as a subtle pop of colour in brand photographs, or to highlight headings in your content. They should not be mistaken for main colours but rather serve to complement and accentuate them.
By adhering to the Colour Palette Formula, you can ensure that your brand's colours are applied consistently and cohesively. This versatile approach empowers you to maintain a well-balanced and visually appealing brand identity, whether you're designing a website, crafting print materials, or curating captivating brand imagery.
An Example of the formula in action
Photo Credit: https://www.wearemedley.com/insights/establishing-an-identity-the-building-blocks
Ultimately, the choice of colours should reflect your brand's identity and values, resonate with your target audience, and align with your brand's objectives. This journey should be both creative and enjoyable, so feel free to explore and experiment with different colour combinations to discover what resonates most with your unique brand.
Overwhelmed? Unsure? Get a Custom Branding kit made bespoke for your brand!