Guest Post Author Bio
Debbie Morgan from Bold Web Design is a writer that loves adding a witty analogy to any concept. With experience in the design and marketing industry, she’s seen her fair share of designing dos and don’ts but loves to bring color to her explanations of these helpful concepts.
When you think about colors, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It might be the clothes you wear, the different colored cars you see down the street, the color of your furniture or even the credit card you choose.
Color is all around us and it’s impossible to avoid. Not only do we consciously choose these colors but we also subconsciously choose them every single day. It’s not just about the color you pick, but why you pick that color.
Why did you renovate your master bathroom and paint the walls green? It might just be because the color green is calming and brings you a feeling of relief after a long day.
This is also why highway signs are in green! It’s meant to prevent fatigue after looking at the road for long periods of times like on road trips. Green can also be associated with health. We see this in the form of financial health, environmental health, and personal health.
The theory behind colors is not only difficult because it’s so ingrained in our culture, but it’s also monumental for design in projects. Good thing there are resources out there! Bold Web Design created a handy Color Palette tool of the Fortune 500 that shows the different colors these companies used – a resource for inspiration and education.
The color wheel can be a useful device to strategically pick colors if you’re finding yourself stuck in the world of colors. That’s not even including shades! The options are truly endless. However, with the color wheel, you are able to see visually which colors pair well with each other.
Take a look at orange and blue. If you’re looking for a high contrast color combination, look for two colors across from each other on the color wheel. Not only are they far away from each other, but this also mixes warm and cool-toned colors together. This being said, you can pick colors opposite from each other on the color wheel and make them both warm or cool colors.
Another common color combination is mixing three colors that are next-door neighbors on the color wheel. Take red, orange, and yellow for example. Very similar in color also very complementary.
While not an intense contrast, some may think this is a bit overwhelming. Imagine if someone wore a blue, green, and yellow outfit. It may be a bit of a shocking outfit for a first date. Is your brand looking to shock or subtly impress?
When discussing colors, it may be easiest to think about colors in regards to emotions. In grade school, we’re taught colors in regards to items like the sun, grass, sky, flowers, and other items in nature. The sun is portrayed with a smiley face on it; a flower is described as having passion, especially red ones like roses.
This is further introduced in other cultural norms like seeing our Dad give our Mom roses on Valentine’s day or seeing people react positively to a sunny day.
These colors can be used and translated into projects and brand images as well. Does your brand represent passion and boldness? You may want to pick a shade of red. Color isn’t the only way to stand out though. A lack of color can also be a sheer sign you’re going against the grain of others. Black, white and other neutrals shouldn’t be disregarded as their power is just as strong.
From first glance, you might think that Conagra is a trip advisor company, and that might be their branding tactic. These bright colors, especially blue and green are commonly seen next to water. It may be surprising to find out that this company is in Chicago, but with the food packaging industry, it’s hard to differentiate yourself.
Both the blues and greens in this color palette are monochromatic, meaning there are two shades for each of these colors. Orange is a complementary color of blue – a perfect contrast to the other cool tones.
If I could describe this color palette, I’d definitely call it jamming. Smucker’s is widely known for their jams and other sweet products that have a bit of personality.
It only seems fitting that their color palette would include a variety of highly contrasting colors. And these colors aren’t subtle shades, either, bringing in the classic ring that Smucker’s has within the food industry.
Did someone say Sprite? This color palette may be very similar to one’s favorite bubbly beverage, but it’s also a monochromatic color combination. Having three different shades of green and a closely related yellow, this is not high contrast. Generally, green represents health and natural elements, values that SpartanNash may want to translate to their customers.
If you aren’t aware of the infamous McDonald’s yellow, you may be living under a rock. This color is shown on the “golden arches” that are visible miles away, and a signature of the McDonald’s brand. This palette is a great example of a triadic color combination mixed with an analogous color combination. Yellow, orange and red represent the three colors that work well together and then purple, green, and orange form a three color balance around the color wheel.
When you think of Pepsico, you probably think of the color blue. Considering this, it may not be surprising that there are three different blues in their color palette. It also isn’t surprising that such a large company would pick colors like orange and green. As orange represents warmth and optimism and cheer – qualities they want their consumers to think of when thinking of their brand. Green in this palette most likely portraying a sense of freshness, a quality you would associate with a cold drink.
I think it’s safe to admit that Dr. Pepper isn’t known for its cute colors, but Keurig Dr. Pepper did a great job at complementing these colors with bright offsets. With brown as the stable color, the colors red, blue, and green form a triadic color combination creating a nice balance of color. To offset the dark brown, the other bright colors help to keep the brand fun and relevant.
When looking at these colors, it’s hard not to use the word fun. This makes sense, as we commonly think of snacking in relation to events that we enjoy. Take the Super Bowl or any football game. If you Pinterest searched “football game”, I’m sure the results would yield a plethora of recipes with Doritos, cheese dip, and beer. This palette represents that. Having every color in the color wheel, this palette truly has a snack for everyone.
At the end of the day, your project or brand’s color palette doesn’t define your brand but it should translate your brand image and message. The goal is to show what’s already there but the challenge is that there are many different combinations that could fulfill this goal.
Color palettes take time and evolve slowly. Start with the basics – the color wheel and color palette tools. Then venture to shades and tones. Remember it’s an ever changing process and when in doubt, follow your gut.