It might sound weird, but one of my favorite ways to decompress in my business is to scour Pinterest for color inspiration and create new color palettes.  Not for any specific project or brand, just playing with colors for no other reason than because I think they’re fun. 

Like the adult designer version of being presented with a box of Crayola 64s and a blank sheet of paper.

Colors play such an important part in design, specifically in branding.  It’s no accident that people can recognize the Target red or Starbucks green before they even see their logos.  Color is visceral and memorable.  For something that seems so simple it conveys a lot of meaning and emotion.

The tiniest tweaks to a color can rapidly change the feel.  Take fire engine red and scarlet.  They’re both variations of red, but where one is bright and electrifying, the other is rich and moody. 

Or think about how your backyard has a totally different vibe when it’s bright and sunny out versus when it’s cloudy and overcast.  The changes in light create changes in color, making colors that were once happy and positive suddenly gloomy and somber.

If a single color can evoke certain emotions, think of what a whole color palette can do.  By pairing different colors together, you can create an entire vibe for people to experience. Color palettes don’t need to be big or elaborate.  For some projects, like presentations or social media templates, only a few colors are needed to make a big impact.

To be most impactful with color in your projects, here are a few quick tips:

  1. Keep it simple. Have a select few colors that are your go-tos.  Instead of expanding the palette itself, play with different tints or shades of the colors that you’ve selected to add variety.
  2. Be consistent with your colors. Consistency is critical when trying to establish a brand and differentiating it in the minds of your audience.  It also helps establish trust with your audience.  If you keep bouncing around from one color to the next, your brand will feel flighty.
  3. Have a primary go-to color. This is the color that you would ultimately want people to associate with your business.  Think of this as your Target red or Starbucks green.  The reason those colors are so memorable to people is because those are the colors that those brands use in ALL of their branding – in their logos, on their websites, in their packaging.  It becomes synonymous with their brand.
  4. Plan for your use cases. You’ll need a darker or brighter color as well as a lighter or softer color to create contrast in situations where you have elements on top of each other (like colored text on top of a colored background).  And ideally, all of your colors should be able to pair well with each other.  So if you pick any two, they should be able to work together.
  5. Know how they make you feel and ask yourself if those are the feelings you’re wanting your brand to evoke in other people.

Need a little inspiration?  See below for some of the color palettes I’m crushing on right now.

branding color palette dusty red rose yellow
branding color palette pink teal gray
branding color palette blue neutral
branding color palette peach teal blue
branding color palette gold green gray
branding color palette blue green pink
branding color palette green pink
branding color palette blue neutral
branding color palette blue neutral
branding color palette blue neutral
branding color palette blue neutral

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