What is color theory and how to choose your brand's color palette in 5 steps?

What is color theory and how to choose your brand's color palette in 5 steps?

Colors are your allies. Turn them into a powerful tool by using them wisely so that they can enhance the identity of your brand and give the ideal tone to the message you want to convey.

It is not just about mixing colors to make them look pretty, we must take into account the emotional and psychological weight that colors cause in people. A color palette that does not communicate the essence of your brand will give the wrong message.

Surely you are wondering how you should go about choosing the right palette with such a huge spectrum of colors. Well, for that we must start by explaining in broad strokes the basic aspects of color theory.

Today I will guide you in a very simple way to discover yours. We will go step by step so you can find that perfect color match. Let us begin!

What is color theory?

Color theory is a set of basic rules in mixing colors to achieve the desired effect when combining them. It is extremely useful because it helps create better communication while harmonizing and empathizing with the brand's values ​​with your target audience. 

Before we start talking about color combinations it is important that you know the basics of color theory. To do this, you must know the color wheel. It is a circular representation of all the colors of the visual spectrum, organized in such a way that opposite colors face each other and complementary colors are close to each other. 

It is a very useful tool that represents the traditional coloring model with primary, secondary and tertiary colors and has been designed to help us choose colors, looking for contrast or harmony.

Primary colors: Every color wheel starts from the basic primary colors. Thanks to 

these three primary colors we will be able to obtain the other 12 colors. Its colors are red, blue and yellow.

They are easily identified as colors that cannot be created by combining other colors. Instead, you can create all the other colors by combining the primaries. 

Secondary colours: Thanks to the primary colors, we obtain the secondary colors. Secondary colors are the result of mixing the primary colors in the same proportion. In this chromatic circle with the mixture of the primary colors we are going to get the colors green, orange and purple.

Tertiary colors: They are the result of mixing a primary color with a secondary one. For example, if we mix the primary color red with the secondary color purple, we get the tertiary color maroon.

Now that you know how this tool is formed and the types of colors, let's delve into color theory, so you can see how the color wheel helps you choose a harmonious color combination.

What you should know about the science behind color?

We call colorimetry or color science the discipline that studies the perception of color in a measurable way. Some of the characteristics used to measure light are intensity or hue. 

A more artistic way of looking at it would be that of the XNUMXth century German poet and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who said that colors are actions and passions of light. This German playwright was the first to put a psychological spin on the subject. Goethe studied the changes that color produces in the mind and behavior of people. His main claim was that color also depends on perception, which involves sight and the brain. An absolute revolution for the time!

Creating a color strategy is the ultimate step in appropriating color theory. But before taking that step, it is important to understand the three fundamental aspects of the theory. Colors have properties, and tone, hue, and lightness are the three most important. Thanks to these properties, brighter, lighter, softer and darker colors can be created.

Hue is basically a synonym for what we really mean by the word "color" eg yellow is a hue. From a tone, or a color in its pure state, nuances can be created. These are achieved by adding white to the tone. Finally, lightness is the other form of hue variation. From a color in its pure state, more or less luminous tones can be obtained by adding black.

These three properties are then responsible for describing and standardizing a color. Each element of a color palette has tone, hue, and lightness.

What is the impact of the use of color in marketing?

Color theory is an extremely useful compendium of arguments for the application of color in marketing.

Yes, marketing is one of the main beneficiaries of this theory, since it has taken enormous advantage of the studies and has used them to make companies more assertive in the application of color to products, packaging, advertising, websites, points of sale and many other communication elements. Color is currently one of the main allies of marketing to influence purchasing decisions and to achieve a consistent increase in sales.

In other words, the color theory serves to not leave loose ends in the choice of the same with respect to marketing actions. Everything that includes a color must have a meaning supported by said theory. 

The colors that we use for the packaging of a product must be chosen with the principles of color theory. The colors of the points of sale or advertisements must be chosen under the premises of color theory. Why? Because it is proven that these colors affect the feelings and behavior of people.

What are color palettes?

We are going to delve into the possibilities that we have, according to color theory, to create a color palette for a brand identity, with the help of the chromatic circle.

Although it may seem like an easy task, creating a color palette has a certain level of complexity. Therefore, below I detail 3 of the most recurrent ways that can help you create a color palette.

Monochrome palette or formula

A monochrome palette uses only one color and plays with opacity to get the different hues. They are uniform color palettes with little variation, but very balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Analogous colors or harmonic formula

The analogous color palette is obtained when we combine colors that are adjacent on the color wheel, that is, neighboring colors. Analogous colors work very well together because they have similar source colors. Like monochrome colors, analogous colors are very balanced, but analogous colors do have a little more contrast between colors.

Complementary colors or complementary formula

The complementary color palette is made up of colors that are on opposite sides of the circle. According to color theory, if we choose colors in this way, we guarantee a lot of contrast between them, but at the same time we ensure that the combination is chromatically harmonious and balanced. Complementary colors have higher contrast, so they often produce a more vibrant color palette.

Triad colors or triad formula

The triad color palette consists of choosing three equidistant unilateral colors on the color wheel. Here we should study and validate that the chosen colors have harmony and work well together. Just in case.

Are there colors and color palettes that are used in specific industries?

A simple image can confuse readers. The same goes for colors. If the infographic is about a horror movie, choose dark colors and shadows. If you're talking about ships, then select a blue tint and play around with the tint, tone, and shadow. If it's a business infographic, don't use bright, fun colors like yellow or orange. Instead, choose more serious colors that suit your brand. I leave you here some options of stalls by category. 

blue lollipops

The color ranges in cold and blue tones are usually associated with technological services or related to health or medicine.

Autumn Color Palette

The autumn ranges focus on orange, green and brown tones. They are perfect for themes related to nature and the environment.

How to choose your color palette in 5 steps?

Color is more than just a visual phenomenon, it creates expectations and feelings, so a good choice can achieve a perfect connection with a future consumer and make them feel attracted to your services or products.

For this, it is essential to rely on the psychology of color, which will help you find the color range that is emotionally closest to your brand, your clients and your target audience.

Now that you know the basic theory behind color, it's time to start applying your skills to selecting a beautiful color palette of your own! I will limit myself to 5 simple steps that will perfect your brand and resonate with your audience. 

Take your time to select a color palette where each one coexists correctly with the other. This is teamwork, as one color cannot do all the work. 

        1 . Start with a color you like: Every time you design something, start with a color and build the scheme from there. If you try more than one, you will have a harder time finding harmony between your colors. The idea is to pair the main one with other colors to create harmonies and give diversity to the brand's communication.

  1. Matches the overall tone of the Infographic

When designing an infographic you have a specific purpose in mind. You might want to convey a message, provide valuable information to the reader, or simply entertain them. The fundamental thing to create your color palette is to think about what your goal is, and what the infographic is going to be about.

  1. Choose colors that work well together

Colors are like fonts. Some of them work very well together, while others just don't, which is why it's important to understand and visualize the color wheel. This chart shows the various hues and their tones, tints, and shades, and how they relate to each other.

  1. Choose 2 or 3 colors

Many times, it is best to keep things simple. A common mistake is to select 5 or 6 colors for the designs. Instead, choose just 2 or 3 – one should be clear and strong and the foundation of the design, and the second and third should complement the first, easily identifiable as a call to action or to highlight something important.

  1. Consider your color context

Color context refers to the way we perceive colors when they contrast with others. That is to say that for example a color can appear softer or brighter depending on the color that contrasts behind its own. 

There are no recipes to make good color combinations, theoretical knowledge is not directly proportional to practical application; but it is also true that knowing the properties of colors helps to avoid making mistakes in handling colors when designing. 

Do you need help with this or any other issue with your business? Follow me on @grlbuzz or write to me at: 


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