The best way to harness the power of color is to use colors that support and reinforce your message.
But how should you pick colors that will look great together? You may not feel “artistic” enough. You haven’t studied color theory, and you don’t want to know all of that anyway. You just want a nice set of colors that will work for your business.
The Web is Full of Color Tools
You’re in luck. The internet is full of free tools that will help you to find colors that look great together. Here are my favorites:
Before you jump in and pick colors, it’s a good idea to review the meanings different colors can evoke. This article by Smashing magazine talks about what colors mean, and shows them in action on real websites.
Using a photo as a starting point for a color palette is a good idea. If you find a photo that has the “feel” you’d like for your business color, upload it to this site, and watch as it generates a palette of colors that are pulled directly from your image.
I’ve recommended this tool on these pages before: it’s a great way to use color theory to pick your palette. You can visualize what your color palette will look like by clicking on “dark page example” and “light page example” in the lower right.
This site uses a colored square (and color bar) you can hover over to choose your hues. It generates the web equivalent of the colors you like and builds a palette with each choice you make. The emphasis is on web-safe color, and ease of use.
Thanks to reader Rob Shaver for recommending this site designed for true color groupies. It’s chock-full of palettes, patterns and inspiring color combinations. Highly addictive.
From Web to Print
To convert your web color to print-safe colors, you need to see printed samples of your target colors, and compare them to the web colors you want to emulate. Your local printer will have Pantone and Trumatch color swatch books and (if you ask nicely) may allow you to use them to match the color you need.
These swatch books are standard tools on any graphic designer’s bookshelf, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help matching web colors to printed versions. It’s tricky, but it can be done.
Show Some Restraint
Remember, for the sake of your brand, choose no more than two main colors to represent your business. Use the tools above to help find which ones work best, and use any additional hues as complements to the two main colors you choose.