Do you like color, love picking hues for your home, can coordinate your wardrobe like a pro – but have a hard time selecting colors for your own brand? If so, this post is for you. I frequently get asked by people struggling to pick colors for their website or brand about my process for creating color palettes. So I thought I would share some of the things I do when creating a color palette, as well as a few of my favorite resources.
Get started by doing research (the fun kind)
I like to do as much research as I can to understand the industry and business that I am working in. It’s good to see what’s typical of other business in the industry and evaluate what the competition is doing in terms of color usage and styling – even if I choose to do something completely different.
Be the brand
I spend a lot of time looking at the brand holistically. What is the missions and purpose of the business/brand? Who is the target customer/audience? What do you ultimately want the customer to do? The answers to these questions will help determine what mood we need to convey with the colors, (for instance-happy, corporate, conservative, youthful).
Skip design school, but read up on color theory
In design school, I learned a lot about color theory – what colors work together and why. You may not want to go to design school, but a basic understanding as to how color works will ultimately give you the ability to intuitively find colors that work together. Here’s a good primer to get you started.
My next step is to look at t what others are doing. I like to see what types of color palettes are trending, and find some design samples that others have created that I love. Pantone’s site is a good resource and showcases trends in colors. I love using Pinterest to look for inspiration as well.
Develop your palette
After research and looking for color inspiration, I will then select several colors that work well together as the foundation for the color palette. I’ll usually select 2-3 primary colors and then choose an extended palette of 2-3 more colors. The primary palette is the main focus and used on the logo and main branding pieces. The secondary palette is used to add variety so that everything doesn’t look the same. These colors are used to spice up print and collateral pieces as well as other special pieces – so design pieces don’t look cookie cutter. I love Colour Lovers for creating color options for clients.
Often I will play with a few options for color palettes before choosing a final palette. The right colors will speak so much visually for your brand and help you attract, excite and engage your target customers or audience.
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