Well, it’s been a few weeks, but I’m back with a new installment of the Design to Dollars newsletter — and this week, we’re talking about color palettes.
Approaching any design project with no established brand style guide can be overwhelming.
What color palette do you use? How many colors feel right? What’s too many, or not enough?
Now, depending on the designer’s aesthetic, it can vary — a very minimalist designer will say 1-2 colors at most, but others could say 5-6. It’s just different strokes for different folks.
The advice I’m giving you today is the rules I follow when approaching any new color palette — whether that’s for a new brand, or simply establishing a guide for a new website design.
Universally, I like to follow these simple guidelines for color palettes of all projects: 2-4 Primary Colors, 1-3 Secondary Colors.
This creates a full color palette of between 3-7 colors total.
So what are Primary and Secondary colors exactly?
When I’m talking about Primary colors, I’m actually not referring to Red, Blue, and Yellow — traditionally known as the primary colors in the color wheel.
What I mean by Primary is your main brand colors — the most important colors that make up the identity of your project.
I always aim to choose between 2-4 main colors, as this helps create different varying levels of hierarchy, backgrounds, and options while still maintaining a good balance of color.
It is best practice to aim for colors that are cohesive and gel — like complimentary or analogous colors, when referring to the color wheel.
Choosing colors at random, with no relation to each other, can make your design project go from balanced and pleasing, to distracting and confusing.
Keep in mind: you can always expand on your Primary colors with shades and tints of those hues. These are darker or lighter versions of each, not meant to be a new color but just variations of your main palette. This can help create new opportunities in your design with added flexibility and options. Use this site to enter your HEX codes and it will generate those tints and shades for you.
Now, moving on to Secondary colors, this is where I introduce a set of neutral colors to the palette. This helps create additional options for things like text color, neutral backgrounds, and similar.
Without these Secondary colors, you have a color palette just full of color — but these additional Secondary, neutral colors are the balancing effect that round out the design.
Secondary colors usually consist of variations of blacks, whites, and grays.
Color Palette Example
Let’s take a look at the AWD brand color palette for example:
On the left, you’ll see the 4 Primary brand colors for AWD, and on the right are the 2 Secondary brand colors.
The Primary colors are made up of complimentary colors (blue and orange), with a few varying blues for flexibility with headings, backgrounds, and contrast for accessibility.
The Secondary colors are a dark gray, for body copy mostly, and a very light neutral color for backgrounds.
You can see it all in action on my website: https://adamwrightdesign.com
You can also see what a poorly planned color palette looks like in action: https://www.pennyjuice.com/
Color palettes play such an important role in design — not just aesthetically, but in the way it evokes emotion, feelings and action.
Don’t just throw your color palettes together on a whim, as it could be the difference maker in a potential customer. I’d be glad to help you create a strong brand color palette that you can use for all projects for your business — just shoot me an email.
See you next time,