If this, “What should my brand colors be?” question is making you nervous, I get it. It’s a scary step to choose your brand colors.
Your brand color choice has a powerful impact on how your customers perceive your business.
What if you get it wrong?
Here’s the good news:
Unlike designing print marketing materials, adding color to your online marketing materials doesn’t cost anything. The only cost? The time it takes you to decide what brand colors to use.
Taking time to choose your brand colors carefully is a smart investment.
One warning: Because it’s free to use, many people go overboard with color.
After all, how can you possibly choose just a handful of brand colors from the millions available?
But showing restraint when choosing a color palette is the #1 way professional graphic designers create memorable brands.
Read on to learn how it’s done!
Why you should choose a limited brand color palette
Rather than develop a recognizable set of colors that people will associate with your brand, many people add color with no restraint at all.
Using too many colors, ironically, dilutes the power of color to brand your business.
It’s hard to remember a long list of colors. It’s easy when there are just one or two.
These major brands use a limited color palette of only one or two main colors …
Choosing brand colors with restraint will help you to build an unforgettable brand.
Read on to learn how the pros do it.
Minimize your colors for maximum impact
Your goal is for your prospects and customers to remember your colors, and begin to associate them with your business.
If you want this to happen, you can’t give them a long list of colors to remember.
Instead, pare down your color choices to two main colors and one accent color.
(Not sure what an accent color is? You’ll learn more about accent colors later in this article.)
I’ll show you how to choose a memorable color palette using a simple, free tool. I’m sharing some brand color examples below, too.
How to choose your brand colors and add an accent color for conversions
My favorite online tool for choosing is ColourLovers.com.
For inspiration, click the Browse tab on the top left, and choose Palettes. If you see a color you like, make a note of the HEX number so you can try it when you create your own color palette from scratch.
(Not sure where to start? Good branding choices always begin with your ideal customer. Read about finding your ideal customer here.)
Step 1. Choose two main brand colors
With your ideal customer in mind, go to the ColourLovers.com website. Click on the green Create button, and choose Palette from the dropdown menu. This is where the fun begins!
Remember, your goal is to choose just two main colors. Look for colors that are similar in tone.
For example, these color combinations are similar in tone. They’re equally saturated, bright, or pale:
The color combinations below use different tones.
In the hands of an experienced designer, two main colors that have two completely different tones can work.
But to be on the safe side, if you’re not a designer, choose similar tones like the first examples above.
(Look at the examples again if you’re not sure what I mean. In the top set, the colors have similar brightness or darkness. In the bottom set, they’re different.)
Not confident about choosing those two colors? Take a look at these resources:
Once you’ve chosen your two main colors, your next goal is to choose an accent color that will draw attention to your buttons and other “calls to action.”
Step 2. Choose one accent color to inspire action
The first part of this exercise is to select two main brand colors. Use those same brand colors consistently in everything you do to market your business.
Ready to take your color palette to the next level?
The next part of the exercise is to choose one accent color that will “pop” out from the rest of the elements on your pages.
The accent color should stand out because it’s different — brighter, darker, or in some way distinct from your two main colors.
It’s sometimes known as a “conversion color,” because using it in small doses helps to draw attention to a part of your page where you want people to take action — or to convert from passive readers to engaged subscribers or happy customers.
When your site consistently uses two main colors you’ll find that it’s easy to come up with an accent color that “pops” out.
Notice how in the example above, your eye runs down the page and goes straight to the orange “Get Started” button?
That’s because it’s the only place on that page you can see such a bright color. The main brand colors are subdued and used very consistently across the rest of the page.
Some websites use way too many colors, and they compete with one another for attention.
But when you use too many colors like the example below, the accent color is just another color in the crowd:
The “Get Started” button gets lost in the example above. And that’s a shame because it’s the most important call to action on this page!
Think of the kitties that won’t be adopted because someone didn’t know how to use color on their website. 🙁
Now … are you ready to put those brand colors to really good use? Register to watch my free visual marketing workshop.
This post was updated in 2020 with new information. It was originally published on July 9, 2014.