Colors have a subtle, tangible effect on human perception. They influence consumer behavior in a lasting way. That’s why brands invest specifically in finding the right color palette to tweak user perceptions favorably. These become the brand colors and are as instantly recognizable as their logo.
Selecting a color palette is a seemingly simple task but as you dive into it, you realize that there’s more to it than just picking your favorite colors. You have to focus on the colors that are most likely to engage your target audience. There’s also the question of how many colors to use, which colors to use together and how to distinguish yourself with them.
But picking a color palette is not that daunting and we do it every day for our clients at Indizine. We are sharing a few tips here so that you can make an informed decision on color palette, before you march into logo design, website design, branding and marketing.
1. Color Psychology: There is a whole science dedicated to understanding how colors influence human behavior. Some make you feel happy, some inspire trust, some quell your hunger and other speak of fire and fury.
Brands have cultivated this knowledge to reach out to their target customers and convey shared values non-verbally. It is evident in their logos, ads, websites, and marketing material.
Look for colors that best explain the sentiment that you want most associated with your brand. But you must consider both positives and negatives attached to a color before selecting it for your color palette. For example, while black stands for sophistication and security, it’s shouldn’t be used prominently for women’s personal care brands.
2. Get Inspired: If you don’t know where to start, look for inspiration from the existing work. Are there brands that closely correspond to your business or your idea of how your target audience must perceive you? Get images related to them and create a repository. Pinterest is an excellent place to put all this together. It has a huge database of images itself, so you can pin all the images that inspire you for your brand.
When you look closely at these images, a common color palette will emerge. You will be able to identify at least 6-7 colors that repeat in these images. You might not even have to do your color psychology research. In some cases, a tight set of color repeats in your collection and confirm that they go best with your brand position.
Here’s a Google search result snapshot of Ayurveda products. Notice how Green and earthy colors like Brown dominate the page. Green is associated with eco-friendly and Brown indicates nature and warmth.If you are selling Ayurvedic products, you can pick these colors because it’s backed by evidence that these create an impression of authenticityon the target customers.
3. How many: A common question is how many colors you should use to form your color palette. The tried and tested concept is to use:
- 2 base colors: This is the basic color palette for the major portion of your website. This governs the general theme of the website. The base colors can be two colors taken from your inspiration. They should stand out as a combination. But refrain from choose two intense colors, they might clash with each other. For example, blood red against green looks unsophisticated.
- 1 accent color: This color goes on the important items on your website like the call-to-action buttons. The accent color makes the CTAs pop and immediately draw the visitor’s attention. A prime reason why only 1-3 base colors are recommended is because too many colors will take your attention away from the CTA.
- Different tones, tints and shades of the two base colors: Using secondary shades of the base color for backgrounds of pictures, for headings, text, borders etc. gives your content/website/marketing material more depth and balance.
For selecting the base colors, you can go to Adobe. Although not all that intuitive at first, this is an excellent place to experiment with the color palette. A more comprehensive tool is the Material Palette. This helps you select base colors, accent color and automatically suggests the shades. You can even download the color palette.
For base colors of the palette, you can choose the following based on the color wheel:
- Analogous colors: Which sit next to each other on the color wheel
- Complementary colors: Which sit opposite to each other on the color wheel
- Monochromatic colors: Different shades of the same color
Usually complementary colors evoke more interest and create a catchy outline. Go for base colors that do not stand out distractingly against each other. The materialpalette tool gives you a preview of the palette and helps you pick the ones that confirm to the direction of your brand.
Notice the Hex code for the colors. Once you finalize the color palette for your brand, note down these hex codes. They help you identify and use the exact colors on different design tools. Stick to your color palette and you will discover how professional you branding looks in comparison to random color choices.