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Choosing Your Brand's Color Palette

Updated: Jan 14


Graphic designer chooses colors for a business color palette.
A designer reviewing color options for company branding.

Image from Shutterstock


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When deciding on the color palette for your brand, there are many things to consider. The color palette assigned to your company assists with giving the customer an immediate understanding of what your business does and its culture. The following discusses things to consider when choosing your brand’s color palette.


Value: Accessibility and Design Context


Accessibility considerations were briefly discussed in a previous post. To review this information, visit the Black & White Logo blog entry. Accessibility is an essential part of branding. Regardless of how many colors you choose for your color palette, it is important to have one of a lower value and one of a higher value. This will ensure that you can use your branding to its full capacity with insurance of maximum legibility and accessibility.


Value Scale in Design


Within the realm of art theory, value scale can become somewhat complex. For example, there are situations where a person may state they are creating high value artwork. What does this mean? It simply means they are taking the traditional value scale and using the mid-value as the lowest value and keeping the high value the same. Basically, they are only using half of the value scale. When it comes to designing for business purposes, the value scale to utilize would be the full value range.


Value Exploration


If you were to use shades of black and white, that would mean white has the highest value and black has the lowest value. If you would like to experiment with value range prior to finalizing a decision, consider making color swatches of your desired color palette. Afterwards, simply change the viewing on a computer to a gray scale. Doing such is an easy way to see whether your color choices have a noticeable contrast. Once you find a combination which seems to have enough range, be sure to test your choices on WebAim. When used together, the colors should have a minimum of a 4.5:1 contrast.


Color Palette Options


If you have more than two colors in your color palette, you will want a 4.5:1 contrast when two of those colors are used together. For example, you will want the color of the background and the text to have this level of contrast to meet accessibility standards. The ideal use of each color is 60-30-10. It is commonly understood that 60% of your design would most often be a neutral color. This means that the other colors used would be utilized as complementary and accent colors with 30% being the complementary color and 10% being the accent. Due to this, it may be helpful to start with a neutral background with picking the colors for your brand as well. This will give you a more accurate starting point when the colors are used together within a design context.


Trends vs. Classic Design


If you are a company which relies heavily upon current trends, there are many resources you can utilize to see if your brand’s color palette is current. If you are a trendsetter and want to launch ahead of popularity, WGSN is a great place to check to see what is forecasted for mainstream preference. Although this resource is traditionally a fashion forecasting website, WGSN attains its predictions based on consumer behavior reports and provides information which may prove to be helpful beyond branding. If you are more interested in creating a presence which will withstand cultural changes, consider a classical approach based on common associations.


Color and Associations


In the design world, color theory can get complex because there are different color modes used for production. However, when reviewing basic color theory for the sake of picking out colors, it is easiest to discuss color in terms of a traditional color wheel. A traditional color wheel is made up of three primary colors. When these colors are combined, they make a total of six colors: red, purple, blue, green, yellow, and orange. Everything beyond this point is a matter of vibrancy and value.


When considering which colors to pick for your company’s color palette, start with thinking of the association with the color itself. For example, don’t worry about whether it is a pastel green or a forest green at this stage. Simply research the associations of green. Do they align with your company’s services and culture? If you start your design process in this way, you become context driven rather than trend driven which could also lead to an ease in rebranding.


Summary


Color is not a requirement for a strong design. Yet, it helps accentuate the message you are trying to deliver to your customer. It provides an immediate and subconscious understanding of what your services provide. A color’s vibrancy and their relationship to one another can also inform a customer about your company’s culture. With over twenty years of experience in fine arts, Viafique is unique in its vast knowledge about color theory, history, and its use for communication. For assistance, feel free to submit a request via the contact page.


 

Author

Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA

CEO | Founder | Managing Member | Designer



Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA is an artist, designer, and business owner. Her creative background is in fine art, and she has a Specialization in Graphic Design from CalArts. In addition, she has post-secondary education in business and certificates in HTML and CSS coding languages. After discovering a passion for logo design and brand development, she founded Viafique LLC. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with aspiring business owners and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.



 

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