How to Choose a Color Palette For Your Brand

Need some color inspo for your brand? 🎨 Here are a few color tools to find your color palette. Unlock your creativity and start choosing colors that are right for audience.
Written by
Jennifer Chu
Published on
February 6, 2024

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Brand

Color is often the first thing people notice about a brand, even before they engage with the product or service it offers.

Furthermore, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, which means that the colors you choose create an instantaneous and profound impact on your potential customers.

Establishing a strong color palette is a critical part of defining your brand's visual identity. It's a process that involves psychology, design, and a deep understanding of how colors can communicate and resonate with your audience. Your brand identity can support you and your team in delivering consistency in assets and communications which builds credibility and relationships with your users.  

In this article, we’ll go through some key steps to developing a color palette that's not just aesthetically pleasing but also reflective of your brand's values and personality.

But first, let’s have a fun chat about the psychology of colors!

Understanding Color Psychology

Before you start perusing paint chips or browsing digital color swatches, it’s important to understand the relationship between color and human perception. Each hue carries its own set of psychological triggers, stirring unique emotions and driving specific responses. Harnessing these psychological nuances can offer some guidance on helping your brand message resonate deeply with its intended audience.

The Ember Hues

Red, orange, and yellow – the warm colors on the spectrum – often evoke feelings of passion, energy, and warmth. They are dynamic and attention-grabbing, making them suitable for brands that want to exude a sense of vigor and vitality.

Red and yellow are also widely used in the Food & Beverage industry due to their appetite-stimulating properties and the feelings of excitement and happiness they evoke.

Warm ember hues colors and fast food logos

The Cool Serenade

On the flip side, cool colors like blue, green, and purple are known for their calming and reassuring effects. They represent serenity, trustworthiness, and nature, which can be utilized effectively by brands that aim to project a professional or eco-conscious image.

Blue is used heavily by the finance sector, where trust, reliability, and responsibility are the basic requirements customers seek out. The healthcare industry also leans towards blue, associating it with calm, cleanliness, and safety.

color palette for finance brands

Green is often a symbol of growth and prosperity as well as being popular amongst eco and health-conscious brands.

The Pure Neutrals

Pure neutrals are colors that do not show any clear hue or saturation and are considered "colorless." These include shades of black, white, gray and brown. They are often used to establish balance and harmony within a color palette, fostering an environment that does not overpower the senses with too much color. Their versatility means that they can be paired with virtually any color, making them essential components in creating a cohesive visual identity that is both sophisticated and adaptable.

White signifies purity and simplicity, while black is often equated with luxury and sophistication. Gray can be perceived as solid and dependable, and brown is traditionally associated with earthiness and reliability.

pure neutral colors used and brand usage

By aligning your company’s values and mission with the appropriate color families, you pave the way for a cohesive and resonant brand narrative.

How to find a color palette for your brand

Now, let’s begin applying this to your brand.

Step 1: Understand Brand Values and Mission

Begin by diving into what your brand stands for. Remember, colors can evoke emotions and convey messages without a single word. If your company values sustainability and nature, you might want to include earthy greens or browns. If you're in the technology industry, a sleek, modern palette featuring futuristic blues or metallic tones might be more appropriate. The key here is to ensure your palette aligns with your brand's essence.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

It's vital to understand who you're speaking to. Take time to create audience personas to establish the color preferences of your target market. For instance, if you're targeting a younger, more energetic demographic, vibrant and bold colors may be suitable. On the other hand, a more mature or professional audience might appreciate a subdued, sophisticated palette.

Step 3: Gather Inspiration

Look for inspiration in the places your brand will be seen. Whether it’s in nature, architecture, fashion, or art, find images that evoke the mood and style you want to achieve. It might also be useful to create a mood board with visually inspiring elements that include your brand's personality and the preferences of your audience.

Step 4: Create a Color Palette

Next, begin by selecting a few colors that represent your brand. You’l need a primary color plus at least one or two secondary colors that can be used for accents and highlights.  

There are a number of tools which can help you explore and experiment with color combinations. Adobe Color offers a few different approaches:

1. Browse sample color palettes

If you’re just not sure where to start or don’t have any strong color preferences, try using Adobe Color > Trends. Find inspiration by browsing color palettes sourced from the best graphic design work on Behance and Adobe Stock. You can search contextually, as in “ocean” or “calm”, or filter by the type of project, like “Architecture” or “UI/UX”.  

Browse trending sample color palettes

2. Extract colors from an image

Do you have a photo that evokes the colors you wish to use? Upload that photo in Adobe Color > Create > Extract to generate a color palette. Choose from a few different moods or drag the bubbles to select specific colors in the image.

How to extract colors from a photo

3. Use color theory

If you are feeling adventurous and have an idea for a base color, use Adobe Color > Create > Color Wheel to experiment with your own color combinations. There’s a fun color wheel that’s already programmed with the different color theories: analogous (adjacent colors on the wheel), triad and square (equally spaced apart), and more, so you instantly get harmonious color recommendations without being an expert. Just specify the base color (center color), select a Color Harmony and voila!

As you tweak and refine your color palette so it aligns with your brand identity, you should also check that your color contrast is accessible for all, including low vision, color-blindness or aging.  

Step 5: Expand your palette with shades

I've found it really limiting in the past to use only five or so colors, particularly when posting social media content. Ideally, you'll want a color palette that gives you more flexibility for broader application. I used this Shade Generator tool to get the shades of our main colors. The below is what our color palette ended up looking like, which we made in Figma:

LeHerring expanded color palette

Step 6: Save and Export Your Palette

Once you're satisfied with your palette, save it or export it to use in your design projects and distribute to all contributors to your business. As mentioned earlier, we are using Figma to host our design guides.

Remember, your color palette is as much a part of your brand's story as your logo, typography, and messaging. It should be used consistently across all platforms to reinforce your brand's identity in the minds of your audience.

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