How To Discover Your Color Palette
Choosing the colors to represent your brand is a lot more complex than simply picking your favorite colors. For example, you may absolutely love the color teal – however, teal isn’t the most appetizing color if you’re opening a coffee shop.
There are endless studies on the psychology of color. Blues can make you feel calmer, gold can evoke wealth and power, and red can stimulate passion and danger. There are countless examples of this, but we’re here to help you figure out which colors will work for your business.
First Things First: Asses your Company’s Values
Discovering your color palette isn’t possible without knowing:
What you stand for
Your business goals
The customers/clients you’re trying to attract
Let’s use the coffee shop example again. Say you’re starting a coffee shop and you think you’re just trying to attract anyone who is in dire need of caffeine. Let’s dive in a little deeper. Are you trying to create a quiet space for people to work or a lively space to encourage conversation? Do you want to have a small hole in the wall to move constant traffic or a large space for people to post up with their laptops for hours at a time? Colors will factor into every aspect of the business you’re trying to create. Make sure to answer every question about who you are and what your biz is all about before moving to the next step.
The Next Step: Do Your Research (we can also do it for you!)
Once you’ve established your company’s values, it’s time to do a little research. Say you’re trying to create a calm, quiet environment. Time to find colors that will evoke that response. For those of you wondering, this is also completely applicable to eCommerce websites, as well. When people are visiting your site, you want them to have a full, interactive experience and colors are the best way to provide that.
When we’re designing a brand identity at Coast to Coast Studio, we perform a complete assessment of what colors will serve best. Some questions we always answer are:
What colors are their competitors using?
Will this color palette be relevant in years to come?
Does this palette represent their core values and goals?
How will these colors work on marketing collateral, the website, etc.
If we’re designing your brand identity, we’ll do all the research for you! There are also plenty of sites and tools to help you understand the power of color – to guarantee you’re picking the right shades for your brand!
Let’s Begin: Choosing Two (or more) Colors
If you went through and answered our four questions above, you probably have a few colors or maybe even a palette in mind! In our experience, every palette starts with two colors – and sometimes it only needs two colors! Color works best when clear and concise.
Most successful businesses have two primary colors and one accent color that serves as a contrast against the other two. You should never exceed five colors in your palette. Keep it specific and have each color serve a purpose. This will create brand recognition and trust!
If you saw a business using a million different colors for a million different purposes, you’d probably feel overwhelmed and not trust their product/service. On the contrary, if a brand properly uses 2-5 colors that support their values, you can better assess who they are and what they’re trying to offer you. This is the first step to creating customer loyalty.
Wrapping it Up: Applying it to your Brand
Congrats! You have a kick-ass color palette. Now how do you apply it?
Every brand identity we create includes a wordmark, lettermark, and brandmark. There’s no rules for which color should be applied to each logo. However, we love experimenting with dark on light and light on dark.
You should always have different logo options in a every color in your palette. Obviously, on dark photos you’ll want to use a logo in the lightest hue in your palette and on light photos you’ll want to use your brightest or darkest color. If you’re working with a designer, make sure they’re sending you all of these!
If you don’t have typography figured out yet, you can check out some of our favorite font pairings here. If you do, let’s paint the town (brand) red (applicable color)! Decide which color to use for your header text (Header 1, Header 2, Header 3), body text, and links.
We always recommend using one of your primary colors or your “main color” for the header font. Because, it’s the first thing you see before reading a body of text, so you’ll want to make a good first impression!
This color can be bright, neutral, colorful, plain, you name it. Since the header font is large and obvious, most of the time, it can really be any color in the book!
Since there’s usually a large quantity of text in body paragraphs, it’s crucial that the text is easy to read.
Darker shades and colors are sturdier, bolder, and easier to read, so we recommend using your darkest color for the body text.
Marketing Collateral + Website:
Often times, marketing collateral and websites are the first impression someone is getting of your brand. Whether it be handing them a business card or linking them to your website on Instagram, it’s crucial to impress them from the very start!
As for your website, only use colors in your palette. We always create websites starting with a white or super light hue as the background and building from there. You’ll want as much contrast as possible to create a user-friendly experience. Also, be sure to always have your logo in your header/website menu in the primary color in your palette. This will give them a sense of your core values and brand from the first glance! As for copy on your site, be sure to consider the typography guidelines above. Making sure all the text is easy to read, will assure your client/customers that you’re the real deal!
For marketing collateral, don’t shy away from color! You’ll want your business card, flyer, brochure, etc. to stand out from the pile. Most times you receive marketing collateral at networking events, tradeshows, or client meetings. Set yourself apart from the crowd and show off your color palette at it’s finest!
We understand that discovering the perfect palette is quite the process. But trust us, it’s worth it! Coast to Coast Studio is always here, whether we’re completely rebranding your company or providing creative consultation. Don’t be shy, we actually love getting emails from you!