Don’t Go Wild with Your Brand Color Palette

Has your brand outgrown its color palette? Are you trying to connect with a new audience? Has your company’s strategy changed, or maybe your business expanded past its original geography? Answering “yes” to any of these questions could mean that it is time for a color makeover. Consider the following strategies to approach your brand’s color identity with a strong start:

Establish Consistency

Think of iconic brands like Caterpillar, Barbie, and Target. Now imagine the colors that represent those brands. You might have recalled the cab yellow for Caterpillar, the hot pink for Barbie, and the vibrant red for Target. This type of association isn’t achieved overnight. Years of consistency in advertising and other mediums establish unbeatable brand recognition. What does this mean for your business? You need to be committed to your color palette for the long haul. Marry your company to one or two colors that embody your brand, making positive subconscious associations stronger.

Define Use

A good rule of thumb is to stay in the two to three dominant color ranges. If there are too many colors in your brand standards, the added complexity will detract from your brand’s recognition. When you keep your primary colors to a minimum, there’s more room for accent colors—four to five accent colors are ideal for design flexibility. A short list of primaries and a larger palette of accent colors allows for variety while maintaining consistency.


If you have an arsenal full of accent colors, set clear guidelines around when and how those colors should be used. Uber, a company that primarily uses black and white in its visual identity, incorporates Safety Blue to highlight safety features and communicate care and support during the user’s interaction with the brand. Additionally, Uber’s branding deploys Uber Green more prominently in their Uber Eats service. Going a step further to identify when to use secondary colors and how much to use will yield more clarity around the brand’s appearance.

Opt for Timelessness

Don’t fall for the latest color trends. Flashy new color trends may tempt you to update your company’s marketing, but that will only reduce your hard-earned brand recognition, and worse, your new colors will age poorly. Remember back when Millennial Pink was all the rage? Selecting a more conventional pallet will serve your company for years to come. The colors in your brand should endure and resonate with current and future generations.

Pair with Personality

An abundance of research exists on color psychology. Many of our connections to color are deeply meaningful. Green is often associated with nature. Red, love. Yellow, joy. Your company’s colors should match your company’s personality. When two things come together—your brand’s personalities and the colors in the design—those elements are amplified and made even stronger


Consider Perception

In the US, we automatically associate finances with green—but the US is the only nation in the world that uses green for all its bills. In Ireland, green represents luck—in China, luck is characterized by red. Consider your target audience’s culture to pinpoint the color with the best perception.