Do you break out in a sweat just thinking about choosing brand colors?
The best way to harness the power of color in your marketing is to use colors that support and reinforce your brand.
You may not feel “artistic” enough to do this.
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.
I don’t blame you — color is an essential part of your visual brand.
In this post, I’m going to share my favorite tools for choosing your brand color palette. The right colors for your brand may be just a click away …
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:
Read on for my favorite resources to find the best brand color palette for you.
1. First, understand the meaning of color in your culture
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 in cultures around the world. Plus, it shows the colors in action on real websites.
2. Use a photo to inspire your color palette
Using a photo as a starting point for a color palette is a good idea.
Sometimes it’s easier to define your brand by how you want it to “feel” (which is what my free brand personality quiz is all about).
To choose a color palette based on a photo, follow these steps:
- Find a photo that has the “feel” you’d like for your brand
- Visit Colr.org
- Click the “Load Your Own” button to upload your photo
- Watch as the site generates a palette of colors that are pulled directly from your image
It’s a very pared-down site. For more on how to use it, read this page.
3. Use sophisticated color theory to choose your brand colors
You don’t have to be a color theory expert to use it to pick your business colors.
Just visit Paletton.com.
Select the color theory you want to apply to your palette in the upper left. Then move the selectors around until you have a palette you like.
To visualize what your color palette will look like, click on Examples to see light and dark page examples of your palette in use.
4. Craft your palette with a streamlined tool from the pros at Adobe
Adobe makes sophisticated software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign that is much-loved by designers — and is too confusing for the average user.
The Adobe Color CC tool must have been designed by a different team.
It’s slick, powerful, and incredibly easy to use.
5. Dive down this color rabbit hole
ColourLovers.com is designed for true color groupies.
It’s chock-full of palettes, patterns, and inspiring color combinations. Highly addictive, so block out at least 30 minutes!
Bonus: experiment with a color wheel
The genius team at Canva has developed an interactive color tool where you can choose your palette by sliding around on a cool color wheel. Use the dropdown menu to choose the color combination you want to try, and slide the dot along the outside ring to add or remove black to the mix.
How to take your brand colors from the 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.
Some colors are notoriously difficult to reproduce using inks, so take the time to see printed color samples before you lock in your print color palette.
And finally … show some color restraint
The most common mistake I see non-designers make with their brand colors is to use too many.
When you don’t have a clearly recognizable color palette, you’re missing out on the power of color.
Why? Because it’s impossible for your prospects and customers to start associating your colors with your business.
So use restraint.
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.
Put your brand colors to good use starting today
There’s a lot you can do with your brand colors once you choose them.
Register for my free on-demand branding workshop to discover how to use your brand colors to create stunning visuals you can use on your website, in ads, on social media, and in your email marketing … even if you’re not a designer. 🙂
This post was originally published on April 21, 2010 and is continuously updated with new information and tools.