How To Choose Your Brand Colours (A Simple Guide)

Only my OG followers will know this…

But my branding used to be 80’s themed, back when I first started making Instagram content.

As per usual, I was in one of those nostalgic moods.

Cruising around Grand Theft Auto’s Vice City, with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” playing on full blast.

Because of that, I decided to design my whole brand around that one decade.

In fact, here’s a sneak peek of my very first post on Instagram…

My very first post on Instagram (@mike.walterz)

I’ve since taken the post down, despite many people expressing their love for the theme…

Because honestly, I hated it.

I regretted every post that I made and my dislike for creating content grew more and more.

Now I’m not saying my designs were bad!

They just didn’t feel like… ME.

Despite this, I continued to post on Instagram every day.

Making small adjustments with each post.

After about a month or so, I’d finally establish a brand aesthetic that felt more personal.

And I’m going to tell you how you can do the same.

(Without wasting a month of your life 🙃)

#1 // FIND some inspiration

First things first, you’ll want to take inspiration from people who know what they’re doing.

That’s not to say that you don’t.

But I’m willing to bet that most people reading this article aren’t branding or design experts.

So let’s save time here and take guidance from those that are.

My first recommendation is to check out my ‘Colour Scheme Ideas’ board that I’ve created on Pinterest (below)…

On this board, I’ve collected a large variety of colour palettes that you can start using for your own visual brand.

You could use these colour palettes entirely as they are.

(And I wouldn’t blame you).

However, you may want to take your time in choosing colours that perfectly represent you, your business and also your ideal clients.

Rather than jumping on the palette that looks cool (right now).

As an alternative to using Pinterest, you can also use this Colour Picker Tool which allows you to upload an image and identify the colours from that image.

So feel free to upload the likes of a poster design, Instagram post or photograph and find your colours that way.

NOTE: If you do come across a content creator that has THE branding you want, just know that copying them 100% isn’t going to guarantee that you’ll achieve the same success as them. What may suit them and their brand – may not suit you.

It’s in your best interest to take inspiration from others and not to just copy them outright.

#2 // Pick a primary colour

Once you’ve found your inspiration, you’ll want to choose a strong colour to use as your primary.

This colour doesn’t have to be strong in terms of saturation, but it will have to be easily identifiable as your main brand colour.

For instance, you’ll likely associate Coca Cola with its iconic red or Facebook with its frequent use of blue.

If you’re using one of the colour palettes (from my Pinterest board), you can select one of the bolder colours from that palette.

Here’s an example of how you can use the primary, secondary and neutral colours from a colour palette. Credit: @awsmcolor.

#3 // Pick a secondary colour

This is the colour that is going to compliment your primary colour.

You don’t actually have to have a secondary colour, however, your social media content may look a bit bland if you don’t.

You could just pick a second colour from the colour palettes I’ve provided on Pinterest above.

In fact, I would highly recommend that you do so.

However, if you want to have a play around with your colours then I recommend using either Coolors or Encycolorpedia.

These are free tools that help you to generate a colour scheme either from scratch or in tandem with the colours you have provided.

So if you have a primary colour in mind, you can just paste in the HEX code (i.e. #FFFFFF) and it will suggest some pairings.

Be aware though that there are rules & principles that you should follow.

If you’re not the most artistic person in the world, it’s very easy to choose a combination that results in an eyesore.

Which obviously isn’t good.

If you’d like to know how to pair colours like a pro, you can check out this post from Design Bombs.

For most people, I recommend that your secondary colour be either…

  1. A different shade of your primary choice, or…
  2. The complete opposite colour of your primary.

Examples of opposite colours can be blue and orange, purple and gold or even black and white.

This brings me nicely onto my next point…

#4 // Pick a neutral colour

For most people, your choice of neutral colours could be as simple as black (#000000) and/or white (#FFFFFF).

These two colours offer the biggest contrast which makes text much easier to read.

This is why it’s the go-to for all forms of publications, such as newspapers, blogs and more.

Alternatively, you can use the lightest colour from your chosen colour palette instead of using plain white.

Likewise you can replace black with the darkest colour from your palette – if it’s dark enough.

Provided that there is enough contrast between the neutral colour and the primary/secondary, to make your content legible, it should come out looking pretty good.

Are you a designer of some kind? If so, you may wish to stick to more neutral branding and let the colour of your designs do the talking.

Mike Walters

#5 // ask yourself…

Do these brand colours represent you, your business and/or your ideal clients?

If so, how?

Because I guarantee that for many of you, you will have chosen a colour scheme that just looked cool.

But do these colours give me an immediate insight into who you are, who you help or how you help them?

I realise that you can’t necessarily tell all of that just from a colour but you’d be surprised at how important first impressions can be.

My dark theme comes from my twisted sense of humour, as well as my blunt (black & white) approach to things.

Others may source their inspiration from their national flags, love of comic books or their local surroundings, such as the sandy beach.

Not sure how your colours represent you? Check out this post by Oberlo which explains the psychology behind certain colours.

Conclusion

Coming up with a colour scheme for your brand doesn’t have to be painful, nor does it have to be decided today.

It’s something that you can continue to perfect until you find a scheme that suits you.

You can start by using a colour palette for my Pinterest board or from an image that you’ve found on a website.

Rather than copying the scheme outright, you’ll want to ensure that you add your own personality to it…

Creating a brand that fairly represents you, your business and your ideal clients.

Simple question but… What’s your favourite colour? Let me know in the comments below!

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