Ah, color palettes. If it’s not obvious yet, I LOVE color. Trying to create a perfect color scheme for your brand though? Not such an easy task.
Being both a designer and photographer, I’m constantly keeping color schemes in mind to create harmony in all my work. I’ll admit when I first started my brand years ago (I’m talkin’ college days) my brand was just black and white. I was intimidated of color at the time, to be honest, and my brand reflected that fear with a lackluster quality. If done right, you can totally have a successful black and white brand—but that’s much more complicated to achieve than it appears. Color increases brand recognition by 80% by appealing to our emotions, so creating a perfect palette is essential to your brand. It must reflect your brand’s personality, attract your ideal audience, and build brand awareness. Lots of things for some colors to do, right?
Now the fun part: figuring it all out. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Create a list of words that describe you and your brand
Come up with list of 10–15 words that you feel describes your brand. Getting your words on paper not only helps you visualize ideas, but also helps you define your brand. For example, does your brand create organic face masks while staying environmentally responsible? Some words that come to mind are natural, eco-friendly, organic, pure, trees, growth, clay, green, harvest, plant, sustainable, and forest. Pick at least 5 of these words that resonate with your brand most, and keep them handy.
2. Find inspiration that speaks to you
Use those main words we just picked out in a Google or Pinterest search. For example, I’d go to Pinterest and search “forest color scheme”
Naturally, the earthy tones dominate the search. Keep this simple question in mind when exploring color schemes: how do these colors relate to my brand? If they don’t make you think of your original keywords, then it’s not the right fit. Find images that not only capture a color palette, but also a mood. If you want your brand to be warm and uplifting and you find a dreamy picture of girl in a sunflower field, save it. Start saving these images until you have at least 30 photos or more. Then, look at all these photos as a whole collection. Do you see any patterns? Maybe you see lots of greens and yellows in a lot of these images. This will help give you an idea of the direction you should be going.
3. Decide your main colors, then pick accents
One of my favorite ways to find accent colors is to actually go out and capture them! There’s a great phone app called Adobe Capture that will pull colors within the photos you take and create a palette out of them. I wanted to find a retro, yet bright color scheme for a project and thought this suitcase would be a perfect starting point.
You can see that it captured all the yellows and browns and created a warm, classic scheme. You can move those dots around and adjust the colors right from the photo as well. From there, you can upload it to your account and further play around with it on your desktop via Adobe Color, or just save it. You can also explore color harmonies by tapping the palette icon in the bottom left corner of the app, or using the “Change Color Harmony” dropdown menu on the website. There are many other great generators out there as well, such as Coolors.co and Color Space. Find one that tickles your fancy and play around with them!
4. Put it all together
Now that you have some main colors and accents in mind, start putting them all together and refining them. At this point, I like to go into Adobe Color and further adjust them. You should have around 3–6 colors in your final palette. Too few colors will limit you, and too many will be busy and confusing. Aim to keep all your colors relatively the same intensity. Having a color that contrasts too much with the others disrupts the harmony between them all.
5. Now, put them to use!
Stick with these colors! It’s alright if it isn’t completely perfect, you can always revise later on. Just make sure you stay within this palette of colors so you don’t confuse your audience. Being consistent in your color usage will build trust with your audience. Your color palette should be represented throughout all your social media channels, as well as your website and photography.
Having a color palette that reflects your brand and consistently sticking with it is one of the best ways attract your tribe, earn their trust, and to build brand awareness.