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5 Types of Branding Color Palettes That Reign Supreme

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Design Tips & Resources

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osmanassem

I hate to burst your color loving bubble {it really is such a cozy bubble} but not all color is created equal when it comes to branding.

Creating a kickass color palette for your brand isn’t just a matter of personal taste or favorite colors. That’s what your bedspread and throw pillows are for.

Your brand identity should be made up of digital assets that WORK, not just pretty shit that makes you gush, and your color palette is no exception!

As we go through the palettes, I’m going to take you for a spin around the color wheel, and play a little Love Connection, because colors have relationships. Not the Netflix and chill kind, but you already knew that.

Like any relationship, on paper your palette might look like a match made in heaven {don’t they all at the beginning}, when it’s really more like a May to December romance.

I want happily ever after for you and your palette, so let’s hit the wheel.

Here is the typical 12 spoke color wheel.

This is the same color wheel that graphic designers, interior designers and fashion designers use. It’s THE authority on color relationships no matter where you’re using color.

With this image front and center to refer back to, let’s dive in!

In no particular order, here are the 5 type of branding color palettes that reign supreme {like the kings and queens they are}, along with examples of each.

1. MONOCHROMATIC COLOR PALETTES

Color palettes that are shades (darker) or tints (lighter) of one color on the color wheel.
Monochromatic palettes are one of the most popular color palettes used in branding, but don’t think that means you’re going to look like everyone else.
Here are 3 real world brand examples of this ‘one color’ palette.

Miranda Nahmias

Miranda keeps it simple by using different tints and shades of pink for her color palette, which creates a beautiful contrast in her visuals.

Using a monochromatic palette like this makes stacking your elements slightly easier than some of the other palettes, because of how closely related the colors are to each other.

This is like the kissing cousins on the world of color.

Miranda uses her tints (the lighter colors) for her backgrounds and overlays and the shades (the darker colors) for her typography, which makes her text really pop, while still maintaining a softness.

Jess Creatives

Jess uses a monochromatic color palette as well, but she uses her colors a little differently.

She predominantly uses her main color with white for a clean and minimal style, and saves her other tints and shades to create gradient overlays to soften things up a bit.

Peg Fitzpatrick

Peg has an awe-maazing {a very technical term} pretty in pink monochromatic color palette that’s drenched in feminine energy. Even the photography she uses honors her palette, which makes for one solid gold identity.

As you can see, just because a monochromatic palette is built around ONE base color, it doesn’t lose any versatility or contrast. It’s all about using the tints and shades in this type of palette to play up each color. You want each one to have a defined role in your palette ‘family’.

2. COMPLEMENTARY COLOR PALETTES

A complementary color palette features colors directly across from one another on the color wheel.
This type of palette is one of the most recognizable, because of the organic complementary qualities of the two colors.
You can use the true colors, like purple and green, or you can use tints and shades of those two colors.
In terms of our Love Connection analogy, think of a complementary palette as a case of opposites attract. The ying to your yang, if you will. One is warm, one is cold, and together the two ‘opposites’ bring out the best each other.
Here are two real world brand examples of complementary color palettes…

Design Your Own Blog

Marianne at Design Your Own Blog uses an aqua and apricot pairing for her complementary color palette, along with some tints and shades of each of those colors.

Understand this, while a complementary palette will include colors across from each other on the color wheel, that doesn’t mean you can ONLY use the base colors on the wheel.

Think of tints and shades as the offspring of the base colors on the wheel. As long as the parent is the same, the generation doesn’t matter. Meaning, so long as you’re using tints and shades of a complementary pairing {in this case teal and orange}, that is STILL a complementary color palette.

Bailey Richert

Bailey also uses this type of palette, and again she too has chosen to use the two main complementary colors, purple and green in her case, along with some tints and shades of those colors to round out her palette.

Notice how she has defined the use of each color {which colors are used for backgrounds, overlays, typography, etc}, and how she has maintained those color assignments across her visuals, social media profiles, and website.

THAT is how to make your color palette an iconic AF part of your brand identity!

3. ANALOGOUS COLOR PALETTES

An analogous color palette features colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.
Analogous palettes are one of the most versatile color palettes for branding, because the palette as a whole will usually share either all “warmer” qualities (like orange, red, yellow) or “cooler” qualities (like purple, blue, green).
Because of this harmony and how much versatility you can have in your colors, creating a unique analogous palette lends itself to an incredibly recognizable look, assuming you keep things consistent across your content.
Analogous palettes are more of lifelong friends than a love affair. They are familiar, closely related, and never far from the other. But hey, maybe one drunken night, they hook up…who are we to judge. Sometimes best friends turn into love connections, right? 😉
Here are 3 real world examples of the analogous color palette…

Painted Summers

Allison over at Painted Summers uses an analogous palette, which is on the cooler side. You can see she’s got blue, green, purple, even some magenta. Everything that’s hanging out on the top left side of the color wheel.

Notice that even though there’s an abundance of color in Allison’s brand identity, it doesn’t feel distracting or haphazard.

That’s the bonus of sticking to colors so close to each other on the wheel – they gel very naturally together.

Nathalie Lussier

Nathalie also uses an analogous palette that’s on the cooler side, yet she has a very different feel than Allison’s.

Here’s the thing, knowing the different types of branding color palettes is important to understand how colors relate to each other, but how you use the colors in your palette will ultimately dictate the style of your brand identity and how instantly recognizable it is.

Remember, color is just the beginning when it comes to creating a brand identity.

Go Creative Go

And here’s one last example of an analogous color palette from Mallie over at Go Creative Go. Her palette straddles the warm and cool of the color wheel, which is another possibility.

An analogous palette doesn’t HAVE to fall into the all ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ bucket I mentioned earlier, it can always marry the best of the both of the worlds, just like Mallie did.

4. TRIAD COLOR PALETTES

Triad color palettes feature three colors that are equal distant from each other on the color wheel.

This tends to be the toughest color palette for branding, because they can become busy….quickly.

The key to success on this one is to keep one color more dominate in your identity and use the others as accents.

On the Love Connection scale I would file this under ‘open relationship’. The colors work well together, but there’s usually a dominant and a couple ‘substitutes’ to spice things up when the urge arises.

Just like a real life relationship, this open relationship isn’t for everyone…you have to be willing to work out the kinks and make sure everyone {or in this case, every color} is getting what it needs. It’s more important than EVER when it comes to a triad palette that you define how you will use each color. Those who don’t end up failing fast!

Here are two real world brand examples of a triad color palette…

Freedom Hackers

Kimra over Freedom Hackers has one of the most unique brand identities I’ve seen out there, and it features a triad color palette.

Like I said before, she has a dominant color, which is her dark navy, and then she uses the other colors in her palette as accents on her decorative elements and typography.

Notice how doing that allows her to control where your eye goes in her content and designs?

A triad palette can accomplish this better than any other type of branding color palette IF you do it right, and Kimra has, there’s no doubt about that!

Hub and Company

Here’s another triad color palette from my client Andrea over at Hub and Company.

Again, she’s got a dominate color, which is her purple, than she uses the other colors in her palette as accents, in her case as backgrounds.

The purple anchors everything, and that’s what you want from the dominate color in a triad palette.

5. NEUTRAL WITH A POP OF COLOR

Neutral with a pop of color is a color palette that features all neutral colors with ONE color that pops off the rest. That pop of color can be bright and brilliant or more subtle.

These types of palettes have become really popular in the last year and for good reason.

The largely neutral elements create a clean backdrop for the real star, the POP of color, which helps create a deep connection between the brand and that particular pop of color. Talk about brand recognition.

On the Love Connection front, think of this palette like the dynamic of a room or table full of family and/or friends. There’s almost always that ONE really big personality. Maybe their loud and boisterous, maybe there a social butterfly fluttering all over, maybe they have no filter. You know the one. We all have them in our lives. Or maybe YOU are the big personality.

Guilty as charge for me. I have to ‘grow’ on a  lot of people. It’s not uncommon for someone’s first encounter with me to be a mix of horrified side eyes and ‘did she just say that’ deer in the headlights looks.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on if you’re me or them, I give zero fucks what other people think about me so I’ve never had a great filter on my mouth.

And yes, to answer your inner monologue, I am 5 years old, which is why you also shouldn’t be surprised that I just detoured off track yet again.

Uh, where was I?

Oh yeah. Pops of color and that one big personality at a table full of loved ones.

This type of color palette functions in the same way as the dynamic of that table. No one part (or person) is greater than the others. It’s the palette (or table) as a whole that completes the experience.

Here are 3 real world brand examples of the neutral with a pop of color palette…

Cara Chace

Cara has a neutral backdrop of black, white, and a spectrum of grey paired with a bright poll blue pop of color. She’s even crafted a neutral look across the photography she uses, so she never loses that neutral canvas.

You can see, she uses her pop of color in a sorts of ways, depending on the information she wants to draw your eye to in her visuals.

That’s one of the coolest aspects of this color palette, the pop of color really lends itself to drawing your eye to it. And you know we love us some eyeballs.

Persuasion Revolution

Bushra from Persuasion Revolution is one of those BIG personalities we just talked about, so it’s not a surprise that she chose a neutral color palette with the pop of color.

She is what some might call a firecracker but I just called one cool bitch. I only discovered her 6 months ago, so I’m thinking there’s got to be some peas of a pod vibes when you look the similarities in our personalities and our color palettes. Just sayin.

She’s got a neutral background of black and white, paired with her orange pop of color. On occasion Bushra will also swap out a different pop of color, usually red or blue, depending on the type of content she’s creating, which is a great color assignment strategy.

Assigning a specific pop of color for a specific type of content, let’s say your podcast, can be a great way to communicate you’ve just released a new episode (or mini course, or video tutorial, you get the picture) in your visuals without having to spell it out.

Middle Finger Project

Ah, Ash, my hero. Again, another sassy ladyboss who gives zero fucks.

We share our love for the unfuckwithable motto, as well as our love for a pop of color.

What more can I say, this is how a pop of color should snap, crackle, POP out at you!

Whiskey and Red

Julie and Steven over at Whiskey and Red also have a neutral palette with a pop of color, but they’ve taken a different approach than the other examples I’ve shown you.

They chose a neutral backdrop of creams and grays, with a deep wine pop of color.

Don’t let the ‘neutral’ in the name of this palette lead you to believe that you have to use black and white. Or that your pop of color has to bright and in your face.

Your palette can be made up of pastels if that’s your choosing. It’s more about the dynamic of having a neutral canvas with a pop of color.

Resources: www.thebrandedsolopreneur.com

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