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How To Choose A Brand Color Palette

Nov. 17, 2023 | Lindsey Hart

Web Designer work on project in front of laptop

What Is A Brand Palette?

Your branding palette is the set of colors that express your brand’s personality to the world. Color plays a huge role in creating a brand that is identifiable, seeing even licensed Pantone swatches like Tiffany Blue or Minion Yellow that were crafted specifically to capture those iconic colors. Even a glance at these swatches and you immediately associate that with the brand, and that level of recognition just speaks to the one anchoring brand color. 

Thinking further into palettes, companies like McDonald’s, with their use of red and gold, immediately trigger brand recognition, even if the colors are seen in another industry entirely. John Deere goes so far as to trademark the combined use of green and yellow on machinery. This is how much influence a brand palette can have, making your business immediately recognizable without even having to use your logo.

These are obviously examples of larger companies with global influence, however, the idea of owning an iconic color palette is still applicable to your brand, no matter the size of your business. Even on a local level, you can likely think of a restaurant or other entity that does a lot of advertising tied to a color that you know immediately what the brand is before looking at the logo. Having a strong color palette is vital to creating brand recognition at scale, and we’re here to help you figure out where to start. Beyond that, it sets an overall feel for your brand to inspire energy, put the viewer at ease, or whatever other emotion you may want to evoke and tie to your brand experience.

Identify The Feeling You Want Your Brand To Evoke

Looking at different colors evokes different feelings, we’ve all heard this in our high school English classes. Was the blue drape a symbol for languid sadness or was it just blue? The answer can be a little of both. Color psychology is a very interesting field of study, it tells us that color can elicit a subconscious emotional response in the viewer, which can be used to your advantage.

What Anchor Color Is Right For Your Brand?

Depending on your industry, different emotions might be more desirable to inspire. High energy, workout company? Try orange. Trustworthy, financial institution? Consider blue. The more you think about it, the more you start to notice consistent color use within many brands in a given marketspace. This is because that color is likely eliciting the desired emotion. Think of the healthcare space, many organizations opt to use blue for its trustworthy, calming effect.

Choosing an anchor color in your palette makes defining the rest much easier. Your anchor color acts as the primary color in the palette that the rest of the colors can be informed by. Like, when thinking again of a brand like John Deere, where they do have 2 dominant brand colors, the green is ultimately what they’re known best for, and the yellow works to support it.


Below is a list of commonly associated colors and feelings, though there is a lot of room for interpretation in these definitions. Think of these as a general jumping-off point:

  • Red – Power, Excitement, Love, Speed, Anger, Lust
  • Orange – Energy, Excitement, Friendly
  • Yellow – Happiness, Competent, Positive
  • Green –  Health, Money, Environmentally-Friendly, Loyal
  • Blue – Corporate, Reliable, Competent, Sophisticated, Trustworthy, Health
  • Purple – Luxury, Power, Unique

The above colors are the common core of the rainbow and they have so many variations in hue, tonality, and beyond, but this generalized list can give you a good place to start. Of course, there are many more neutral colors as well, variations of browns and greys that can act as the primary color as well, however, it is slightly less common.

Consider Which Scheme Is Right For Your Brand

Now that you have an idea of what color is right for you, your color scheme can similarly have a psychological effect and give you a tool belt so to speak for your designer. A color scheme is a set of colors that have a relational quality to one another. There are many schemes and they can get quite complicated once you start looking at the more advanced schemes in color theory. We’re going to look to start with the basic ones:



This color scheme uses a single color that is in various tints, shades, and tones to create a range of color that all use the base hue from your anchor. This color scheme tends to feel very clean and professional. While some think it may be monotonous, you can achieve some really great things with it if it is utilized properly. If you really like your anchor color and are finding it difficult to find other accents to bring in, you might not need to.



This scheme uses the neighboring color(s) on the color wheel, so if we were to use red, the other colors in your scheme would be orange and purple, or just one of them. Analogous schemes have a harmonious feel that flows really naturally since you’re largely working all within a similar color family that still has a good deal of contrast.



This is created by using your anchor’s opposite color on the wheel; so if we were using blue, we would use orange as the complementary color. Christmas colors are complementary, which is part of the reason why they are so vibrant and pop when placed next to each other. If you are in need of CTA’s that jump off the page or a more energetic vibe for your brand, then a complementary color scheme may be right for you. 



Create an isosceles triangle on the wheel with one point on your anchor color and use the other two points to select the supporting colors. This most commonly is seen in a primary scheme using red, blue, and yellow. This scheme helps to create balance and stability in the branding, created on strong foundations, yet it still has a lot of visual variance which can give it an energetic feel as well.

Have Fun With It

Choosing your colors isn’t an exact science; while we can use schemes and psychology to fuel our decisions, ultimately, it’s your choice to choose what makes the most sense for you. Maybe you like the complementary scheme, but you don’t like the way orange is working with blue as much as you like the yellow. Go with your gut (or your designer’s). Who knows, the scheme you tweaked may now be an advanced split complementary without even knowing it. There’s a certain rhythm that comes with working with color so you just have to find the one that rings true to your brand.