Choosing the colors is one of the most important parts of the branding process. This step is also one of my favorite – it's the moment when you breathe life to the brand or project you are working on and everything comes together in a magical way.
Where to start
In her book How to Style Your Brand Fiona Humberstone introduces the seasons as a guideline for color selection. I love the concept and I think, it is a very good way to pick the right colors for your brand. Today I would like to introduce you to my two very handy methods to pick colors – I call them The Perfect Wardrobe Method and The Dream Home Method.
THE PERFECT WARDROBE METHOD
This approach is perfect for smaller projects or products – it's simple and easy.
If you are working on your own branding, think of the clothes you are likely to wear. For example, I love patterns, but I rarely wear them. Same with stripes. I love pastels, but I prefer to wear bold bright colors. Also, I have tons of black clothes for the colder seasons, but my favorite piece of clothing is a bright yellow summer top with an open back I’ve had for ages.
Next, think of your dream client. What does she like to wear? How does her wardrobe look like? You should love your brand colors, but you’re not doing all of this for yourself, you’re doing it for her, your favorite customer. So find the middle ground and work from there.
THE DREAM HOME METHOD
This is the advanced version of The Perfect Wardrobe Method. I use this one for branding and for larger projects. You start by imagining her wardrobe and you expand your vision to encompass her dream home and life.
Don’t just imagine the clothing your dream customer loves to wear, think of her whole visual world. What is the style of her home? Is it modern, rustic, DIY, sporty, a mix of many styles? Which colors dominate? Where does she prefer to go to vacation? Tropical beach paradise or a secluded hut in the mountains? Both places have very different vibe and color properties. Again, find the common ground between your dream home and your customer’s.
TIP: The best way to imagine a visual world is to create a moodboard.
Make a moodboard
This is the best reason to browse Pinterest for hours that I know of. Mood boards are super fun and easy to make. You can create one directly in Pinterest by pinning images and colors you find suitable for your project. Just take a look at my Boho Minimalism board and the Araminta board. There I've pinned images that have the same vibe, similar colors and communicate a specific message. So, go ahead, make a secret board and start pinning!
Another way to create a moodboard is to use Photoshop or Illustrator or any other graphic app. Just pick nine images, which match the look and feel of your brand or project, and place them in a document in your graphic app of choice.
How to choose your colors
So, you’ve learned the magical properties of colors, you’ve created your moodboard, and now it’s time to pick your colors. But first I want you to go back a step, and look at the images on your board. As much as you love them, ask yourself these three questions
- What feelings do these images evoke?
- Who am I talking to exactly? Who is my dream customer for this project?
- Are these the feelings I want my business to sparkle in the soul of my dream customer?
When you’ve answered these questions, look at your moodboard and adjust it if necessary. Once everything looks and feels amazing, grab a color picker and start picking colors! If you’re working directly in Pinterest, use the ColorZilla picker for Chrome.
How many colors do you need?
There is no right answer, really. If you can make five or more different colors work for you, then go for it! No matter how many colors you pick for your brand, you'll need to stick to them. You can create two palettes if you want to — one with your main signature colors and another with neutral ones for backgrounds and side bars.
Personally, I prefer a complementary palettes with six colors. It usually looks like this:
Note that I have one very dark color, usually for body text, one or two very light shades for backgrounds and the rest are the character giving colors, as I call them.
Commit to your color palette
When you've picked all your colors and created your color palette, you will need to apply it everywhere. But first, you need to test it and make adjustments, if necessary. Sometimes when you start applying the chosen colors, you see that some of them do not work as well as you've hoped - a background might look too dark, or a headline too subdued. Just go back to the palette and adjust the shades slightly, so the colors can work their magic for you.
When you've tested everything, go on and change your blog templates, social media profiles, and stationery. Then, tell the world all about it! I love reading about the process behind a color choice, so go ahead and share your story in the comments — how have you chosen your brand colors? Tell us the love story :)
Need a little bit of inspiration?
Now, I'd love to hear from you
How have you chosen your color palette? Do you have a method you can share with us? How do you know if your colors are exactly right for your brand and that they’ll will touch the souls of your tribe?