Choosing your color palette is one of the most important steps in establishing a visual brand identity, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Although it’s tempting to choose colors simply because you like the look of them or because they are used by a competitor, your brand identity will be much more powerful and impactful with just a bit of consideration that is unique to your brand. The first consideration is color psychology – you should have in mind is the meaning behind the colors you are selecting, and the purpose they will serve in representing your brand. Another important factor is color harmony – the consideration of how the colors relate to each other within the color wheel and the harmony that they create when used together.

Color Psychology

It’s important to recognize that we all psychologically associate certain colors with certain thoughts, feelings, and industries. Also, it is very important to consider that people will have different associations and interpretations of colors depending on their culture and where they live.



Blue is easy on our eyes and is proven to have a relaxing effect on our psyche. Blue is associated with security, trust and reliability and is therefore often used in banking, security and software.




Green symbolizes nature and the natural world. Due to its strong associations with nature, green is often thought to represent health, wellness, stability, and harmony. It is best used in farming and agriculture, environmental, wellness, and non-profit organizations.




Orange exudes confidence, vibrance, fiery, and excitement. It is best used in sporting, outdoors and construction.

Syracuse Orange Logo    WNBA Logo     Home Depot Logo Harley Davidson Logo


Purple is a rich, sophisticated, and elegant yet mysterious color. Purple is widely used in a variety of industries in order to exude luxury and pride.

Crown Royal Logo  Cadbury logo  Hallmark Logo  NYU Logo



Red is associated with excitement, passion, action, and power. It is most effective when used in food, retail, and entertainment branding.

Coca-Cola Logo    Target Logo  Youtube Logo  Netflix Logo


Color Harmony

Once you have settled on a primary brand color, you can start building your palette to include secondary and accent colors to be used within your products and branding. The most common types of color harmony are complementary, monochromatic, analogous, triadic, split-complementary, tetradic (rectangle), and square. Adobe has created a great online tool available for free that generates these palettes very quickly, based on your primary brand color.



The most common and straightforward method of selecting a harmonious balance. This is achieved simply by choosing the hue that is directly opposite to your chosen color on a color wheel. This method is great for achieving contrast and attracting attention. However, complementary colors do not work well for text as the value (relative lightness or darkness) is the same, making it difficult for our eyes to differentiate.


Another commonly used and simple method is monochrome. This uses different values of the same hue, and will always work well when applied to any color. This is more suitable for text, as our eyes are able to differentiate between the different values.



Analogous color schemes use colors that are adjacent to each other within the color wheel. They work well with most colors and create harmonious and comfortable designs.



A triadic color harmony uses three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. These color schemes tend to be very vibrant, and it is important to ensure that your main color is most dominant. For example, the bright cyan hue below could overpower our signature brand pink color. Use these colors sparingly to maintain a consistent hierarchy.

Split Complementary

This is a variation of the complementary color scheme that uses the two hues adjacent to the direct complementary color. This reduces the amount of tension and vibrancy, making it more adaptable for a broader range of colors. Split complementary is often a safe option, as it provides more choice by adding an alternate similar hue to your palette.

Tetradic (Rectangle)

A less commonly used scheme is the tetradic or rectangle harmony. It combines two pairs of complementary colors, but once again is most effective when one color is dominant.



Similar to the tetradic scheme, but with four colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.



Remember that these are not hard and fast rules, you can take creative control and make adjustments as you see fit for your own brand! Best practices are guidelines in place to help get you started and in the right direction, but there is always room for uniqueness in order to help you stand out.