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The Simplest Way to Choose Your Brand Colors in Just 2 Steps

Choose your brand color palette with a simple, two-step method.

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?

No pressure!

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 …

Choose your brand colors just like the big brands do — using a limited color palette
ChoUPS uses only two brand colors in their logo. Facebook and Coca-Cola? They use only one color!

Choosing brand colors with restraint will help you to build an unforgettable brand.

Read on to learn how the pros do it.

Minimize when you choose your brand 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!

Choose your brand colors on COLOURlovers

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:

Choose brand colors — good combinations.
These color pairings use similar tones — dark (the colors are mixed with black), vivid (bright), and pastel (the colors are mixed with white).

The color combinations below use different tones.

Choose brand colors — bad combinations.
These color pairings use different tones. The first pair combines a dark color with a vivid color. The second pair is a vivid color and a dull, dark color. The third pair is a dark color with a pastel color.

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:

Related: How to Choose Two Brand Colors for Your Business

Related: 5 Free Tools for Getting Your Brand Color Palette Right

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 a single accent color for your call-to-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.

Like this:

An example of how to choose your brand colors and apply them to your website.
In this example, the brand colors are subdued, so the accent color (as seen in the orange button) really stands 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:

An example of what not to do when you choose your brand colors and apply them to your website.
In this example, all the brand colors are vivid and bright, so the accent color (as seen on the button) doesn’t stand out.

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. ๐Ÿ™

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.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?
A close up of Pamela Wilson of BIG Brand System

Pamela Wilson

I want to help you take the next step. Pick your free workshop topic and letโ€™s do this!

6 thoughts on “The Simplest Way to Choose Your Brand Colors in Just 2 Steps”

  1. The psychology of color confuses me. My site is about coaching widowed women through the oh-my-gosh-what-now transition that happens after the immediate grief recedes a bit. Instinct says soothing serene colors but a part of me screams “Vitality! You need a pop of color in there!!”. I’d love to hear your opinion.

    Love your site.

    Shelby

    • Hi Shelby,

      I think you should go with your first instinct โ€” soothing colors โ€” especially when you’re first trying to engage with them. Give them the sense of serenity they’re looking for so you don’t scare them away.

      Then later, you might offer advice about what they need in the form of an ebook, a blog post, or an email. At that point, you can use colors with a bit more “pop” to encourage them to add some vitality to their lives.

      I hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by and asking such a good question!

      • Thanks for the affirmation that I was on the right track! I love it here on your site. So much good information adn talent here! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Shelby

  2. You’re absolutely right, choosing our brand colors is a scary step. We need to be very careful about the colors that we choose or else it can ruin the credibility of our business and it can even devastate it. It can help or hurt our business. Choosing the right colors can help us convey a message to our customer. Thank you for your tips!

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