Creating an effective and strategic brand colour palette for your small business

The what, why and how-to’s of creating a colour palette for your business that looks good and tells the right story. And some ready-to-use ones you can steal for your branding!
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Whether you’re a neutral-loving minimalist or a bold-and-bright maximalist, choosing a colour palette for your business can feel overwhelming.

There’s the permanence of it: I’m scared of committing to a small collection of colours. There’s the personal preference: But I love purple so my brand colours have to include it. And there’s the psychology of it too: Why are all organic or plant-based businesses so *green*?

So you do the research, you gather heaps of inspiration swatches on Pinterest and then you … feel stuck.

I get that. That’s why I wanted to teach you some basics so that you feel confident creating a colour palette for your business that looks and feels good — and tells the right story!

Here are some key components to consider when choosing a colour palette for your business.

Tone

First, think about the overall tone of your business and how you want people to feel when interacting with you and your content.

Your brand tone is a piece of your strategy puzzle and to help you define it you can consider

  • What your vision for your business is: what kind of future you want to be a part of creating with the work that you do
  • What your benefits are: what people experience, feel and get when working with you and what makes how you do things different to your peers

Aim for around 4 words that describe the tone of your business.

Use case

Consider where you’ll be using these colours. Do you have a website? Will you be creating Instagram and Pinterest graphic templates? Do you have client documents you’ll need to style? Do you create packaging for physical products or files and slides for digital products?

Make a list of all the touchpoints your business will have so you can determine where your brand colours will be used and how big of a palette you’ll need.

Your people

Who do you want to work with? What does a fab client look like to you?

Don’t know? Why don’t you take my Get More Fab Clients workshop!

I don’t take a ‘dream client profile’ approach and prefer to understand what they value and what emotional benefits they’re looking for. You can watch it here.

Once you know who they are and what they value, you can gather images you feel represent them. Head over to Pinterest, snoop through who they follow and engage with often on social media. What do their colour stories say? How do they make you feel? How are they using colour to enrich their brand experience?

Balance, harmony and contrast

A good colour palette has balance, harmony and contrast, even if it’s monochromatic.

You’ll need to think about legibility of text and logos on backgrounds, photo overlays, and generally how the colours work together.

I’ve created a blog post with 4 palettes I’m loving right now and how they look in a real-life application of the brand (and why it works). Take a look.

Obviously there are loads of rules that guide colour composition, and to be frank, you don’t need to know them (I feel like you’d have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t anyways!). We start learning them when we’re taught how to mix paints as small children and, if you study something creative like I did (Fine Art degree, anyone?) you’d probably go quite in depth.

But taking a look at a colour wheel to brush up wouldn’t hurt so here you go.

Colour wheel primary, secondary and tertiary colour combinations
Colour combinations for on a colour wheel for analogous, complimentary, triadic, split complimentary, square, rectangle, double complimentary, monochromatic

Create a palette

Alright, let’s start putting a colour story together.

Here’s a list of the colours you should absolutely include:

Primary bold

Your main brand colour

Primary neutral

Your main background colour

Primary accent

Your ‘pay attention to me’ colour

Secondary neutral

Your secondary background colour

Button

Your CTA and web-button colour

Copy

Your dark colour used for small headings and paragraph copy

Seasonal colours

You can also include seasonal colours if you require a broader palette (maybe you have packaging you need to have designed or you love including patterns in your brand touchpoints). These can be updated and switched up seasonally and you have the option to include trending colours to your lineup — you can think of them as supplementary to your primary palette. They should still all work together but you have a bit more freedom to change things up more regularly.

Don’t use these colours for your logo, photos or any brand assets you want to keep consistent, please!

Ready to use colour palettes

Or steal one of these palettes!

Still a bit too overwhelming to create your own palette? I got you, boo!

Grab one of these ready-to-go colour stories and start applying it instantly to your brand assets and marketing materials. And you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with a carefully considered and well balanced colour palette today!

If  you use one, I’d love for you to snap a picture and tag me on your Instagram story @lorin.galloway.

If you’re ready for more than a DIY colour palette, I’d love to work with you on your visual branding. You can read all the details here or jump straight to scheduling a call here.

Psst. Want to see colour palettes I'm crushing on right now, along with how I'd use them in a brand experience?

You can find them here.

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Download free ready to use colour palettes

Download your free colour palettes with copy/paste-able HEX, RGB and CMYK values and keywords for each palettes to help you choose the best one for your small business.
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Creating an effective and strategic brand colour palette for your small business
Creating an effective and strategic brand colour palette for your small business
Creating an effective and strategic brand colour palette for your small business
Creating an effective and strategic brand colour palette for your small business

Hi, I’m the author, Lorin

I love supporting you bring confidence, clarity and growth to a business already filled with so much meaning and love.

If you’re filled with ambition and purpose and looking for branding and business support that helps you achieve your vision, you’re in the right place.

I’m a brand and website designer with an approach centred on intimacy, so you’ll see that word a lot here.

I’m also a red wine enthusiast, amateur vegetable gardener, mom to an adventurous 5 year old, whippet lover with a thing for ginger cats and Cape Town local who loves the ocean.

Read more about me ⟶
Lorin Galloway branding and websites for small businesses with heartLorin Galloway strategist and designer for small business owners