Choosing the perfect colour palette for your brand can seem like a daunting task when you don’t know where to start – in this post Brand Stylist Meg Harrop shares her advice on choosing a palette based on your brand personality and values.
Colour plays a major role in making your brand recognisable and holds immense power when it comes to evoking emotions. By choosing certain colour combinations for your palette you can convey the correct values and somewhat control how your brand is perceived.
There are a few ways to choose colours for your brand, some designers will be able to pull colours together quite instinctively, but it helps to have a few pointers to follow if you’re new to the world of branding.
In order to pick colours that really evoke the correct feel from your customers you’ll first need to define your intentions about what that feel should be.
How should your brand feel to your customers? If your brand were a person what would it’s personality traits or defining attributes be?
Your brand values are also important to note down here to guide you on choosing colours. Your brand values are what you and your business stands for, and the things you’re passionate about. They’re also the things that your customers care about and are part of the reason they buy from you rather than another business.
Take some time to think about these if you don’t have them nailed down already, they truly are the guiding principles for everything you do within your business.
To make it a little easier to choose a unified colour palette you can use the framework of colour psychology which I first learnt about from Fiona Humberstone.
Within the colour psychology framework there are 4 colour personalities. Choosing a colour personality for your brand can really help you to pull together a beautiful palette using your brand values and your thoughts about how you want your brand to feel. It gives you a bit of a structure to follow if you don’t feel confident in knowing which colour tones convey which emotions.
The colour personalities are seasonal and their key attributes are:
Playful, bright, energetic, optimistic, joyful, optimistic, creative, open, quick thinking. Spring personalities value openness, communication, imagination, and creativity.
Colours will need to be light, bright, warm, and clear to match the bountiful energy that Spring brings. Pastels fit in well here but colours can also be brighter. Yellows, pinks, turquoises, greens and even oranges and reds can fit here.
A perfect Spring personality business is Susana Torralbo – Just look at that joyful and energetic mix of yellows, pinks, and greens. The colours feel warm but there is a light, bright background of white in many of the photos.
Types of businesses that fit well here are creative agencies, youthful businesses, shops selling children clothes or nursery decor, but don’t be put off if your business is none of these things. It’s all about the feel you want to portray.
Graceful, romantic, serene, sensual, organised, aspirational, understated. Spring personalities value logical thinking, quality, balance, supportiveness, and tradition.
Where spring brings bold energy, summer slows it down and the pace becomes a little slower, colours are a little more muted to suit the longer, warm hazy days. Colours are delicate, and often slightly cooler.
A perfect Summer personality business is The Home of Eve with their classic deep green mixed with soft pinks – understated, elegant and luxurious.
Types of businesses that fit well here are jewellery designers, floral businesses, gift shops, wedding planners, luxurious and high quality businesses.
Passionate, rustic, warm, earthy, organic, artisan, authentic. Autumn personalities value enthusiasm, community, heritage, history, and justice.
Autumn picks up the pace and the energy a little again with the prolific fruit that’s ready to harvest at this time of year. Colours will need to be warm, intense, deep, and energetic.
A perfect Autumn business is Magic Organic Apothecary with their completely natural beauty products. Deep browns and greens feature here with lots of natural textures and colours. There is a wide range of colours available for Autumn, make sure they feel warm and full of life.
Types of businesses that fit well here are handmade and artisan products, natural and organic businesses, outdoor businesses, and charities.
Strong, minimal, dramatic, bold, opulent, expert, practical, focused. Winter personalities value experience, discipline, vision, and strength.
Colours will need to be bold, minimal, and cool. Think black and white, with perhaps some pops of bold, intense colour and maybe a metallic.
A perfect Winter personality is Vogue! High end jewellery and fashion fits well here along with super professional businesses.
Tip: Note that each season can include many colours, it is more about how warm or cool the colour is, or how bright or muted, and how it feels next to the personality traits. Your business may have a little of more than one season and that’s ok, just make sure you’re not pulling colour from all the seasons! There is really no right or wrong to this, keep referring back to your intention for how you want to portray your brand.
You can also use these seasonal personalities to help you choose other elements for your branding (typography, photography styles, illustration styles) but to keep things simple we’ll stick to talking about colour here.
Pull colours together (in design software or online software like Canva) based on your season. You’ll eventually want to narrow it down to around 6-8 colours (You may want less depending on how minimal your palette needs to be!).
Search for the meaning of colours on Google to help you narrow down your colours more. There is an abundance of information already on the internet to tell you what blue means and what green means and so on.
Your seasonal personality should work to qualify each colour and determine how bright or muted, or how warm or cool it is. So for example if you know you need a green and your personality is summer, you might use a classic, deep, slightly cool green.
Once you have one main colour you can move onto what works with that first colour. One other contrasting main colour works well, and then 3-4 complimentary colours that blend in well.
This last stage may take you a little while to complete, get to a point and then walk away. Come back to it the next day to see if anything has shifted, does everything feel harmonious? Does your palette convey what you need it to convey?
I hope this post has helped you to feel more confident about pulling together a colour palette for your brand!
If you’re launching a new business or considering a rebrand you can see the details of Meg’s Signature Brand Design Service here.
Meg is a brand stylist and designer for small businesses. She’s passionate about helping people build their business dreams into a reality with intentional, thoughtfully crafted brand identities.
After working on branding with corporate clients, Meg longed for a more fulfilling way of life. She set up her design studio, Lemon & Birch, in 2016 to bring her branding design skills to the small business community.