How to Pick a Color Palette

I hear from so many people that they struggle with finding the perfect color pallet! How can something so fun, be so hard, right?  If you are stuck choosing your colors, what’s holding you back is probably a disconnect between your brand message and images or a flat color palette. Let’s talk about what that means, and then I made a worksheet (at the bottom if you want to skip down) that you can download to get your color palette together.

Brand Message – Color evokes emotions from people based on their association between the color and context they attach to it. Some people love nature and may associate rich greens with adventure and national parks. Other people hate camping so this evokes a context of being uncomfortable (bugs, weather, tent sleeping). So what we want to do is make sure there is cohesion in our brand by being clear about our message and using our colors, logo and photo styles to support that.

Color Theory – They actually give an entire course just on color in art school, so don’t feel bad if you are struggling here. Pick one color you really like, let’s say turquoise. You want to add a complimentary color like a shade of green. Complimentary colors are next to your chosen colors in the color wheel. If you were making turquoise, with paint you would mix green and blue. So green and blue are your complimentary colors. Now, you have turquoise, green, and blue in your pallet. Next, you need a pop of color. This can be a color opposite the color wheel, or a bright color in our color family (what we would mix to make our palette). In this example, you could use yellow, lime green, or red. Now, you need a neutral. This can be something in the gray family or a really light version of our three main colors. To finish off our palette, we need a dark color. This can be a dark gray, black, or a dark version of one of our three main colors.

Having a variety of color will keep your color palette from looking flat. Now, you have a go-to grid for designing your branding materials and website. You have your main colors, plus a light and dark color for text, and a neutral for backgrounds.