Skip to content

How to pick a brand colour palette

Three brains colour palette

Share This Post

Why read this? : We share our recent experience of putting together our brand colour palette. Learn why colour is such an important part of your brand identity. And learn why and how we chose the colours behind Three-Brains. Read this for ideas on how to create your own brand colour palette. 

As we started to build the Three-Brains brand identity, one of the first design areas we looked at was the brand colour palette.

As per our colour in marketing guide, colour plays an important role in defining your brand.

First, your brand colour palette helps your target audience recognise your brand. Consistent use of the same colours creates mental associations between those colours and your brand. 

Three brains colour palette

Then there are the psychological associations people have with certain colours.

You can use these psychological associations as a shortcut to help link your brand to what those colours stand for. 

You’ll see in the image above the final brand colour palette we settled on.

It’s not confidential. Anyone with access to the eyedropper tool in a graphic design tool like Photoshop or Illustrator could work out these colours. Your brand colour palette is always very public. 

Colour psychology - an applied use of colour in marketing

Our colour in marketing guide shares examples of other brand colours we worked out this way. See also our colour in design article, which has more on how important your brand colour palette is. 

For this article, we wanted to share how we got to this brand colour palette. What our thinking was. If you ever need to create your own brand colour palette, the thought process might help spark some ideas.

It’s a mix of creative judgement and what we wanted the Three-Brains brand to stand for.

Getting started with your brand colour palette

We had no preconceived ideas about what the brand colour palette would be. For a completely new brand, it helps to start with an open mind. 

So we started on, a great website to get inspiration about colour. It lets you experiment with colour choices and see what colours work together. (Note, it uses the Hex colour system). 

Our first couple of clicks generated a few ‘meh’ responses. That was until our first colour Japanese Violet (#503156) appeared.

Japanese Violet

This colour appealed for a couple of reasons.

First, purple is a combination of Blue and Red. When we’ve done insight profiling, those are the 2 strongest colours in our team. So, there was a mental connection. Our red and blue insight profile strengths meant a purple colour felt relevant. 

Purple also has associations with authority and sophistication. Something about those associations felt right to us. They fitted what we wanted the brand to stand for. Its purpose and values

Our brand identity should link to the expertise we have in marketing, creative and e-Commerce. And we wanted the way we did things to be smart and thoughtful. Purple helps convey those values

And it’s also the colour of red wine. Something else, we like the association with. 

We thought this colour would help our target audience form strong associations between the brand and those values. That’s why we picked this colour first. Why we use it in our designs, on our website and in our marketing communications. 

And then finally, there’s that name “Japanese Violet”. Japan is a huge inspiration for creativity and design. There’s just something very cool about Japan. So Japanese Violet was a good start.

We’ve used this as our highlight colour through all the content on creative as it felt like a good fit.

Air Superiority Blue

Next we wanted some complementary colours to go with the purple. This took us towards Blue and Red. Complementary colours are colours which “go” together. They sit naturally together and don’t clash. 

We wanted something from the lighter end of blue to give some contrast to the dark Japanese Violet. A few more Coolors clicks brought us to Air Superiority Blue (#6EA4BF).

So, starting with a ‘luxury’ colour, and then a blue that’s ‘superior’. That’s a sign, right?

Blue is also associated with trust, calm and serenity. It also has strong associations with wisdom and intelligence. Given the brand is called Three-Brains, we definitely felt we needed a blue colour for the association with these values.

There’s also a nice richness to this shade of blue which works well in designs. It also works well with light and dark fonts, so we’ve used it a lot in backgrounds.

It’s our highlight colour in all the marketing articles which are more theory-driven than the other sections.

Ruby Red

This gave us 2 ‘cool’ colours. But, we knew on certain parts of the site, we’d want something warmer. A colour which was more action-oriented. Something more attention-grabbing.

We didn’t want to stray too far from the premium feel of Japanese Violet but wanted something with more vibrancy and impact.

Ruby Red (#A31621) felt like a good choice. Ruby makes us think of ‘port’, so again with the red wine connection. It also makes us think of the song “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones, and “Ruby” by the Kaiser Chiefs. And once we’d thought of those songs, we couldn’t get either out of our heads for days afterwards.

You’ll find red on most of the buttons, links and other calls to action on our website. It’s a colour which demands attention and stands out from the other colours we use. 

Ruby Red is the highlight colour we’ve used in the e-commerce section of the site. It feels right for a section that’s all about action. Because e-Commerce is where we focus the most on action. 

Because red colours generally signify strength and power. Values associated with being dynamic, decisive and making progress. And that means action. 

Silver Sand / Snow

We added Silver Sand (#BCD8C1) and Snow (#FCF7F8) to give us some lighter colour options as our first 3 choices were on the rich and heavy side.

To be honest, we’ve not put them to great use yet.

The Silver Sand feels like a nice contemporary colour. The hint of green makes it feel quite fresh. And it seems to work surprisingly well next to the Ruby Red.

We wouldn’t normally pair Green and Red, or Green with its cooler cousins in Blue and Purple. But the fit seems to work here. Plus, the name feels very Australian given its beachy associations.

And as for Snow, that was just for us to get slightly away from really strong white. You’ll find it as the background colour on our website pages. 

It’s not a colour we associate with Australia per se. But it’s a good contrast colour for all those dark colours. We’re still on the fence about using it, but you’ll see it crop up here and there.

So, our colour choice has the following associations :-

  • Luxury (and red wine). 
  • Wisdom.
  • Action.
  • Contemporary.

Those feel like they might be a good start for creating the personality section of our brand identity.

But we’ll save that story for another day. 

We’ve covered quite a lot in this article and we wouldn’t want to leave you feeling off-colour. 

Check out our how to use colour in marketing guide for more on this topic. Or get in touch if you need help picking out your own brand colours. 

Young child holding a blue paint tube and squeezing it out

Photo credit

Kid squeezing paint tube : Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash

Share this content

4 thoughts on “How to pick a brand colour palette”

    1. Interesting question, thanks!

      Like most marketing questions, there isn’t really an answer that applies to every company / brand situation. So, our best answer would be, “It depends”.

      Very few brands we know of track or measure the impact of their colour palette specifically. The need to reassess colours would most likely be triggered by some higher-level brand identity measure. e.g. if a brand health tracking study suggests a brand is becoming unfashionable, irrelevant or isn’t standing out, the brand might explore updating colours as one option to deal with that.

      However, the generally accepted practice if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Repeated use of the same colour reinforces the customer’s mental association between the brand and that colour. So what the brand might gain by changing colour in terms of more relevance, it loses in terms of those historic brand associations. Big global brands like say Coke, MacDonalds and Disney don’t change their core colours and that’s because customers have such strong associations with their brand colours.

      There may be a few categories where colour plays a different role and more variety in colours is acceptable (e.g. fashion) and brands might also do a colour change for a tactical promotion (e.g. you see a lot of black and orange around Halloween promotions) but the norm would be to stick with the same colours unless something is obviously not working.

      Outside that, if a brand reviews longer-term strategy (say 3-5 years ahead) and keeping the brand relevant is a priority, that might prompt a brand to reassess the impact of its colour palette.

      Hope that helps answer your question. Did you have a specific company or brand in mind whose colours might not be working? Happy to hear your thoughts on this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest blog posts

Subscribe to get Three-Brains updates