How to Select the Perfect Colors for Your Brand’s Color Palette

Your brand’s color palette is one of the most important aspects of your brand identity. The colors you choose will be associated with your brand identity in the minds of consumers, so it’s important to select colors that accurately reflect your brand personality and values. You also need to consider how your color choices fit within – or stand out from – the norms in your industry. But with so many colors to choose from, how do you know which ones are right for your brand? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through a few tips on how to select the perfect colors for your brand’s color palette.

Review the players in your market

Two kinds of companies can help you quickly get a feel for the branding trends in your industry: competitors and your investors’ portfolio companies. Knowing the latest trends helps you plan your own branding and collateral better. Reviewing competitor sites yields insight into what customers experience when they are shopping around for similar products and services.

Reviewing the portfolio companies of the best venture capital and private equity companies in your space is sort of like seeing the designer inspiration rooms on home decorating shows. These companies often have the best funding and access to some of the best design and marketing teams in the world. Learn from their good fortune.

Grab a cup of coffee and spend a couple of hours looking through these companies’ websites. What colors and fonts are they using? How are they using white space and images? How are they using shading and accent colors? Snap some screenshots of the colors, design elements, and features that you like best. You’ll quickly get a feel for the colors and design choices that are most popular in your space.

Of course, you never want to copy anyone’s design – that’s bad branding, bad business, and bad karma! Your goal is to build a frame of reference for making your own design choices that align with your brand personality and marketing priorities. Whether you choose your own versions of popular color families or choose a distinctively different set of colors to stand out, you’ll be making those choices from an informed perspective.

Consider your brand’s personality and the psychology of color

Colors play a huge role in marketing. They can subconsciously affect how consumers perceive your brand, and they can be used to evoke certain emotions and associations. So it’s important to select colors that accurately reflect your brand personality and values.

What kind of feeling do you want your brand to evoke? Do you want it to be seen as fun and approachable, or serious and professional? Are you the staid industry leader or the scrappy new innovator? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down the field of options and choose a few colors that reflect your desired brand personality. 

The psychology of color is also an important consideration in communicating your brand’s personality. Certain colors can evoke different emotions in people, and this can influence their purchasing decisions. For example, blue is often associated with trustworthiness and stability, while red is associated with energy and excitement. By understanding the emotions that colors can evoke, you can work with your design team more effectively to select colors that best reflect your brand’s unique personality. Be aware that different colors may have unique associations across cultures.

Smashing Magazine created a terrific three-part series on color theory for designers. If you’re managing the creation of a new brand or leading a rebranding effort, the blog posts are well worth your time:

“Color Theory for Designers” not only discusses the meaning behind each color family, but also gives examples of how these colors can be used.

“Understanding Concepts and Color Terminology” gives you the language to communicate effectively about color options with your designer.

“How to Create Your Own Color Schemes” dives deep into traditional color scheme patterns with examples

How many colors should you have in your brand color palette?

Too many colors can be overwhelming; too few can make your brand look flat and uninteresting. The key is to choose a variety of colors that complement each other and convey the message you want your brand to communicate. With a little trial and error, you’ll soon find the perfect combination of colors for your brand.

I like to start with one or two main colors and two or three accent colors. The main colors will be used for the majority of the branding collateral, while the accent colors add visual interest. With the main colors in place, I like to select a set of tertiary colors to round out the set. You’ll want a basic set of neutrals: black, white, and 3-4 variations of gray. Then, I like to check my palette to see which hues in the rainbow are missing. Having at least one defined shade of red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet can come in handy when your team has to create a complex chart, personalize stock illustrations; or support a family of sub brands or product/service families. In addition, many companies supplement their core brand colors with tints

Where to find color ideas for your brand

If you’re having trouble building a color palette for your brand, there are plenty of online resources that can provide inspiration. Once you have a few ideas in mind, it’s time to start experimenting with different color combinations. You may be surprised at how well certain colors go together—or how terrible they look! 

Brand color scheme examples

You can find lots of blog posts with brand color examples around the web. Here are a few of my favorites:

“50 Eye-Catching Logo Color Schemes and Combinations” by Chloe West at Visme

“25 Striking Logo Color Schemes To Inspire Your Branding” by Renee Fleck at Dribble

“Deconstructing 7 Famous Brands’ Color Palettes” by Erik Devaney at Hubspot helps you discover new colors and create stunning color schemes with a huge library of carefully chosen hues pulled from photos. Simply search by category (warm, cool, pastel) or filter by specific color groups to find a 5-color color set that captures the feeling you want for your brand.

Adobe Color CC

Adobe’s online color wheel tool automatically creates color sets based on common color harmony rules: analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, etc. You can save the sets directly to your Adobe library if you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber. Create different palettes and see how they look together.

Trending colors

Take note of the latest color trends. They can change from year to year, so what’s popular now may not be popular a few years from now. Each year Pantone, a provider of color matching technologies and services, selects a Color of the Year. One year it was Ultra Violet—a deep purple hue. The next year’s color was Living Coral—a more vibrant shade. Who knows what next year’s selection will be! 

CEO’s favorites

Alas, no matter how scientific or methodical your color choice process may be, sometimes the company’s brand/logo color choice is randomly chosen because the CEO (or his/her mom or kid) “just likes it.” Unless it’s puce, baby shit brown, electric booger green, or 1970s avocado, fighting for a better choice might not be the battle you want to choose at work this week. Fortunately, the other idea sources can help you round out your palette with additional colors to cushion the impact of a hideous color choice that you can’t change.

Assembling your color palette

Once you’ve considered your target audience and the latest color trends, it’s time to start putting them together a mood board. Some marketers like to assemble a collection of images, color swatches, and fonts on a mood board to help visualize the brand’s new color palette. I like to copy and paste screen clips into Microsoft Word or Figma. Not sure where to start? Check out Pinterest or Behance for some inspiration. 

Final selections

When selecting colors for your brand, take the time to experiment until you find a palette that feels true to who are and what makes them unique. It’s important not only to do this internally within company circles (especially among your sales, customer support, and development teams) but also with customers or other key stakeholders in order make sure there aren’t any unwanted associations so they don’t affect how people see our product/service offerings internationally!

Sharing your color list

After final selections are complete you will want to share them in easy to access formats for you and your colleagues to use:

Branding guide color list – Start with adding a colors page to your company branding guide and create a stand-alone version in PDF that users can print and refer to often. Be sure to include the CMYK and Hex color codes so users can quickly and easily select the right colors in the applications they use.

Microsoft Office themes – Creating templates for PowerPoint and Microsoft Word with your colors added to the color palette theme and font styles to match your branding makes it fast and easy for your colleagues to create brand-compliant documents.

Adobe ASE files – It’s easy to create a user-generated color swatch set to use in your Adobe Creative Cloud applications. Simply save your swatch set to an ASE file then import the swatch set whenever you create a new document for your brand. Here’s our 5-minute video overview of the process.

Selecting the right color palette for your brand can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider, such as target audience, latest color trends, and CEO’s favorite colors. However, with a little research and experimentation, you can find a palette that feels true to your brand and represents it well. The effort pays off! A clear and defined set of official brand colors is one of the foundational marketing mise en place tools that make all your other projects easier.

If you need help selecting a new color palette for your brand, or refreshing your existing brand, contact for assistance. We can help you create your brand identity, define your brand attributes and personality then create a branding guide with official color codes, templates for Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud applications, and more. Let us take the guesswork out of selecting the perfect colors for your brand!