How to Create a Distinct Color Palette for Your Brand

Color is one of the most noticeable, tangible components of a brand. 

It plays a large role in how a brand is perceived, it helps with recognizability and memorability, and it has the potential to attract the right kind of customers, clients and blog readers.

But coming up with a color palette is often a challenge for many creative entrepreneurs when they’re developing their brand. They don’t know which colors to choose, how many colors they need to include, how to use the colors together, and how to make their color palette distinct from others in their industry. 

Do these struggles sound familiar? If so, I have some great news for you. 

Coming up with a distinct color palette doesn’t require any special skills. 

All you need is a basic understanding of color psychology, a little creativity, and these 4 steps!

The Psychology of Color

Color is a powerful communication tool and is often used by designers to encourage action, influence mood, and tap into emotions. 

It’s a tool that gets your audience to see what you want them to see, feel what you want them to feel, and do what you want them to do. 

In fact, research has confirmed that 60% of people will decide whether or not they’re attracted to a message based on color alone. How you use color also affects the visibility of your brand and reinforces brand recognition by up to 80%. 

If you want to create a color palette that attracts your ideal audience and accurately represents your brand, you have to have a basic understanding of color psychology.

So before you dive into the steps below, take a look at these common color associations. (You’re probably already subconsciously aware of many of these!)

Common Color Associations

Yellow is a go-to color for positivity, happiness, and warmth. This color is attention-grabbing (which explains why taxis are yellow) and it can also represent caution (think yield-signs and traffic lights). Men usually perceive yellow as a very lighthearted and childish color, so you don’t see it very often in expensive product advertising for car manufacturers or men’s clothing stores. Yellow is also viewed as being spontaneous and unstable. Some common associations with yellow include caution, cheerfulness, cowardice, curiosity, happiness, joy, playfulness, positivity, sunshine, and warmth.

Blue is perceived as trustworthy, loyal, dependable, and serene. It’s a popular color with financial institutions (IBM, Citibank, Bank of America, Chase) and social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) due to its message of stability and trust. Blue is also a popular color for promoting products related to cleanliness (water purification filters, detergents), air and sky (airlines, air conditioners), and water and sea (cruise lines, bottled water). This color is usually avoided in restaurant logos and food packaging because it’s said to suppress appetite. Studies have also shown that blue is the preferred color of men. Some common associations with blue include authority, calmness, confidence, dignity, loyalty, success, security, serenity, and trustworthiness.

Purple is closely associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and extravagance. It’s a very rare color in nature, and many relate it to creativity and mystery. It is also said to stir up feelings of nostalgia. Some common associations with purple include fantasy, mystery, nobility, royalty, and sophistication. .

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, freshness, serenity, and healing. It also has a strong emotional correspondence to safety and balance. Darker greens are closely related to money, banking, and wealth, while lighter greens have a calming effect. Some common associations with green include freshness, harmony, health, eco-friendliness, healing, inexperience, money, and nature.

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it’s often associated with energy, war, danger, and power but also passion, desire, and love. It’s an emotionally intense color, has very high visibility, and is often used to grab viewers’ attention (think red tag clearance sales and “buy now” buttons). Red has also been known to raise people’s blood pressure and stimulate appetite, so it’s frequently used by food industry brands like Nabisco, Kellogg’s, Frito Lay, Heinz, McDonald’s, and Chick-fil-A. Some common associations with red include action, adventure, aggression, blood, danger, drive, energy, excitement, love, passion, and vigor.

Orange is less intense than red but still packs a lot of punch; it’s energetic and warm. Like yellow, orange is also associated with joy, sunshine, and playfulness. You often find it used in logos to stimulate emotions or even appetites. Some common associations with orange include creativity, enthusiasm, lightheartedness, affordability, and youth.

Pink is a feminine color that conjures feelings of innocence and delicateness. However, bright and vibrant shades of pink often evoke a bold and modern appeal. Overall, pink is known for its friendly and light-hearted. Common associations with pink include gratitude, romance, gentleness, innocence, softness, and appreciation.

Brown indicates nature and utility and is often used in logos related to construction and law due to its simplicity, warmth, and neutrality. Common associations with brown include depth, earthiness, roughness, richness, simplicity, seriousness, subtlety, and utility.

Black represents power, elegance, and authority. It’s often associated with intelligence, but it’s also associated with evil and grieving. It’s a serious color that evokes strong emotions.

Common associations with black include authority, class, distinction, formality, mystery, secrecy, seriousness, elegance, and tradition.


Tones, tints, and shades also have an effect on how we perceive color. 

Tones are created by adding black and white to pure colors. You often hear people saying that a color needs to be “toned down,” meaning it’s too intense and they want to drop the level of intensity. Adding different amounts of black and white to a color subdues the intensity.

How to Create a Distinct Color Palette for Your Brand | Elle & Company

Tints of color are created by mixing a pure color with white. They convey a lighter, more peaceful, and less energetic feel and are also considered more feminine.

How to Create a Distinct Color Palette for Your Brand | Elle & Company

Shades of color are created by mixing a pure color with black. They communicate a more mysterious, dark feel, and they’re often considered more masculine. 

How to Create a Distinct Color Palette for Your Brand | Elle & Company

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