Color is one of the most-remembered elements of your brand and can make a big impact on how it is perceived. Each color arises particular emotions and associations. Therefore, when you are choosing colors for your brand, consider characteristics of your target audience (age, sex, social group, etc.) because colors that work well for one social group, won’t work for another. For example, pink color may work great for young girls but won’t work at all for a lawyer’s company. Use your brand colors consistently in every visual communication of your brand, and it will become associated with those colors, which will increase your brand recognition.
When you are choosing your brand colors, keep in mind the psychological explanations of colors as described in the infographic below; however, don’t forget that different color variations and combinations give different associations and feelings, so be creative and don’t follow these general rules blindly. Instead, try to find out what colors and their combinations work best for your brand and be creative.
Now I’ll describe the main principles of good-looking color schemes. Under each scheme, you will find a banner that is designed using the color combination of the scheme described. Therefore, you will be able to see, how easy is to change the mood and associations of the same banner just by using different color combinations. Consider this when you are choosing your brand colors.
Complementary Color Scheme
The соlоrѕ thаt аrе роѕitiоnеd орроѕitе оnе аnоthеr in the color wheel are соmрlеmеntаrу соlоrѕ. In spite of the соngеniаl-ѕоunding name givеn tо thеѕе раirѕ of huеs, they соmе frоm dirесtlу opposing ѕроkеѕ of thе соlоr whееl and have аbѕоlutеlу nоthing in common. The term opposite colors would actually be more appropriate for describing them.
The color wheel is organized so that if opposite colors are chosen, then one color is always cool and the other always warm with the greatest contrast. When complementary colors are placed next to each other, they make the other color look more intense and brighter. They work well when you want to create a contrasting color scheme. If you place a tiny accent of a color’s complement next to it, you will create an emphasis. Look at this bright and colorful web banner created in the complementary color scheme.
However, be careful with the complementary colors to avoid an effect known as simultaneous contrast, which results in each color making the other color appear more vibrant and dominant. This can be horribly painful for the viewer’s eye and could spoil your brand image.
Double Complementary Color Scheme
The double complementary color scheme is called tetradic because it uses four colors arranged into two complementary color pairs from either side of complementary colors on the color wheel. If you use all four colors in equal amounts, it will be difficult to harmonize them and the overall impression may look unbalanced. Therefore, it is advisable to use one dominant color in your brand color scheme and the rest colors as emphasis and accents only. Additionally, avoid using pure colors in equal amounts. This is one of the most complex color schemes that provides a lot of contrast in color while still blending harmoniously if used correctly. Double complementary colors make an X in the color wheel.
See the example below of this color scheme. There are exactly four colors in this design, additionally to black and white. The complements orange and blue have been paired with violet and yellow.
Triadic Color Scheme
The triadic color scheme is a set of three different colors on a color wheel that are in equal distance from each other. Rеd, yellow, аnd blue аrе a triadic ѕеt оf huеѕ. Violet, orange, аnd grееn also fоrm a triad, as dо bluе-viоlеt, red-orange, аnd уеllоw-grееn and so on.
Nо thrее hues оf thе color whееl can bе ѕрасеd mоrе widеlу—аnd thеrеfоrе bе mоrе viѕuаllу diverse—than those belonging tо a triаdiс palette. This is why color triads are often used in brand color schemes to create both contrast and balance.
Split Complementary Color Schemes
The split complementary color scheme consists of three hues. This palette is created by choosing a base color on the one side of the color wheel and then using the two colors adjacent to its complement, for example, уеllоw, jоinеd by red-violet аnd bluе-viоlеt. This provides high contrast that doesn’t create tension like the complementary color scheme.
If you are a beginner, this color scheme can be a good choice for your brand, because it is difficult to screw up.
Analogous Color Scheme
Cоmbinаtiоnѕ оf three tо fivе adjacent hues оn thе соlоr wheel fоrm аnаlоgоuѕ ѕеtѕ. All of the colors of this set аrе neighbors аnd nеаr-nеighbоrѕ оn the соlоr wheel. This is why you should use enough contrast when using an analogous color scheme.
A good rule of thumb is to use one color to dominate and a second to support it, but the third color – as an accent (along with black, gray or white).
Monochromatic Color Scheme
Create the Monochromatic Color Scheme by taking any of the Hues and repeating it in various Tints, Shades and Tones. All grayscale images are created in the monochromatic color scheme. But you can do it in colors, too. For example, choose Green as a basis for your design project and then use it in tints, shades, and tones, creating as many variations, both obvious and subtle, as you need for your brand design. It is very sophisticated approach and usually creates a calming effect. It’s advisable to add white and black colors to this color scheme to create a contrast.
The eасh hue of the color-wheel-based color schemes can be dаrkеnеd, lightеnеd, muted, or brightеnеd. Play with lеvеlѕ of saturation within every color scheme described – soften оr increase their brightness (make tints, shades or tones) to get the result you want. There are nearly unlimited color scheme combinations available. Create your own color triads and experiment with the colors schemes you can create. Then choose the color scheme that will communicate your brand image the best.
However, to avoid chaos and oversaturation, make one of your colors dominant in your brand color scheme. When you understand and gain the feel of how these color combinations work together (and which ones you prefer for yourself), your brand design will look much more sophisticated and professional. You can also use the 60-30-10 rule when creating your brand color scheme.
11 Free Online Tools That Will Help You to Create Your Brand Color Schemes
If you still feel like you need some help for choosing right colors for your brand, then there are many free online tools available that can help you. Use these tools to create beautiful and tasteful color schemes either from your chosen image or following suggestions of these tools. You can even use already finished color schemes that are created by professional designers. Therefore, if you know the basics of color theory, you can always create beautiful designs and color combinations. All you need to do is to write down the HEX and RGB codes of the colors you chose and use them for your own brand design. Have fun!
- Color Calculator – a free and convenient tool that helps you literary calculate your color schemes. Great tool for creating color schemes using the principles I described before.
- Colors – get suggestions for beautiful color schemes with a click of a spacebar.
- Color Adobe – create color schemes from your image or browse thousands of color combinations. This tool lets you create and save various color schemes, each of which consists of a set of five colors.
- Color Sphere – Google Chrome plugin that helps you to build up a color scheme from one chosen shade. If you’re unsure what color scheme you should choose, Color Sphere provides a selection of themes from a drop-down menu. It helps you harmonize colors, find HEX codes and simulate color-blindness.
- TinEye Color Extraction – a great tool for creating a color scheme based on your chosen image. You will get a color palette for all the colors identified in your image, including color codes.
- Get inspiration from color palettes created by professional designers. Just find the color scheme you like in the website Colour Lovers, copy the codes (hex and RGB) and use it for your designs.
- ColorZilla – a tool that helps you to get color codes from any point in your Internet browser and use it in your design projects. Open any web page, analyze it and inspect a palette of its colors.
- TinEye Multicolr – if you need to get free images for a specific color combination, search 20 million Creative Commons images from Flickr by color.
- Color Blindness – this tool will help you assign a certain color to the main hue. It comprises 1640 different color names. Try it out.
- Rapid Tables and Hex Colorrrs – tools for converting color codes from HEX to RGB or CMYK and vice versa.
If you want to learn more about good design principles, read my book “The Visual Design Principles for Advertisers & Marketers: Increase Your Marketing Results With Visuals That Sell.” The idea of this book is not just telling you theoretical principles about using colors, creating compositional balance and pairing typefaces correctly, but to show you how you can apply these principles in the real world to improve your marketing results. You will be educated enough to understand when the design created really helps you to communicate your marketing message and when it doesn’t.