How to Choose a Color Palette for Eye-Catching Design

December 9, 2019

Athar Majeed

Are you looking for the right colors for your website or brand?

Technically speaking, are you looking for the right COLOR SCHEME?

At this stage, most designers randomly pick the colors that look best together. Some choose the colors that look attractive to them.

It is okay if you are doing it for your home or personal space.

But this personal approach may not work with your branding. Creating a color scheme for branding is a strategic approach that factors into many things. You need to ponder over your target audience, the emotional impact of the colors and how colors work together. A thoughtfully created color palette attracts your audience if done right. 

Therefore, the brand colors should NOT be chosen randomly or according to your personal preferences.

Here I have outlined important things to keep in mind while choosing the color scheme for your website or brand.

1. Understand the Emotional Impact of Colors:

The colors have the ability to trigger various human emotions.

To understand this phenomenon, think about a popular carbonated drink, Coca Cola. Its fire engine RED will strike your mind. Can you imagine coke in other colors like yellow or orange? The color has almost become a synonym of Coke. And the selection of this color wasn't fluke or accidental. It was chosen to meet some critical purposes. First of all, the striking red of Coke makes it stand from the competitors on the shelves. Secondly, the color stirs emotions like boldness, passion, excitement, and love. These are the emotions Coke wants its customers to relate with its drink. 

Let’s talk about another famous color yellow. It stands for happiness, optimism, and vibrancy. When it is used with red, it stimulates the customers' appetite. No wonder why this color combination is ruling the branding of Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald's. 

This color emotional guide helps you understand the color impact of some colors.

  • Red: It represents passion, energy, excitement, vibrancy, and urgency. The color is used by Coke, Red Robin, Heinz, K Mart, and Target. In marketing, it is used to increase heart rate; stimulate appetite and target impulsive shoppers.
  • Yellow: It is the color of happiness, warmth, optimism, and youthfulness. It is used by brands like Nikon, National Geographic, Best Buy, and IKEA. 
  • Black: stands for luxury, sophistication, and elegance. No wonder it is the branding color of Rolls Royce, L'OREAL and Chanel.
  • Blue: represents security, trust, stability, and peace. The popular brands that use this color are American Express, GE, Dell, Oral-B, Facebook, and Ford.
  • Orange: evokes warmth, excitement, and enthusiasm. It is used by Fanta, Crush, STARZ, and Payless. The color prompts people to take action.
  • Green: is the color of nature, eco-friendliness, wealth and health, making it a branding color for Animal Planet, Tropicana, BP, and STARBUCKS.
  • Pink: is the color of feminine, romance and fertility. It is often used in the products meant for girls and women. Victoria's Secret and Barbie are a popular example.
  • Purple: The color purple stands for wealth, wisdom, and success. It is the branding colors of Cadbury, Syfy, FedEx, Roku, Benq, Yahoo!, and Hallmark.

Read Also: Color Theory for UX Design: A Brief Guide for Designers

2. Think About Your Target Audience:

The previous point has educated you on the emotional impact of the colors.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The second thing to keep in mind is your target audience while determining the color scheme of your website.

The target audience is defined as the buyers who are likely to buy your products.

The first thing to consider in this context is the gender of your target audience, such as using pink and purple on clothing for girls and women. The colors that represent masculinity are navy, crimson, gray, black, taupe, brown and tan. For example, Axe uses the combination of black, gray and turquoise shades for its line of men’s grooming products.

The next thing to ponder over is the age of your audience. Color preferences change with age. If you organize the outdoor trips, the best color choice can be red, blue, yellow and green as these colors convey excitement and speed. However, these flashy color scheme may not work for older adults as yellow, for example, may make them angry and anxious. You need to prefer whites and blues in this case.

Kids prefer colors like blue, pink and red. Purple is preferred more by girls than boys.

3. Understand the Cultural Perception of Colors:

According to a report published in the Guardian, the Bassa people in Liberia notice only the combination of red, yellow, and orange as well as the combination of a purple-blue-green color. 

Red evokes passion and love in the USA, but in India, it stands for purity.

In some nations, pink and peach colors are not considered a feminine color. Bright colors may look cheap to some people but are admired in other nations where natural dyes are preferred over chemical dyes or where these colors are associated with the traditions. In China, red symbolizes luck, while in Nigeria and Germany it stands for a bad omen.

Take another color—yellow that is associated with courage in Japan but it becomes a slang of timidity in South America. Some Latin American cultures view it as the color of death and mourning. In Germany, it is the color of envy. However, the culture of the Middle East considered yellow as a sacred and royal color.

The point is here to understand the perception of your target market with particular colors. Determine how your target audience will interpret the colors of your brand.

4. Learn How to Arrange Them:

You must have learned about the colors and their psychological impact. If you are like most readers out there, you must have a rough image of the color for your brand.

For example, you have a blue in mind for your financial services. That is your primary color to be used in your branding elements like logo or signs.

The next step is to choose the colors that work best with blue. After all, you won’t like to splash blue on your entire website or pamphlet. You need to balance your blue with other colors to make it visible and aesthetically pleasing.

Here comes a good old rule—60/30/10.

It means that your primary color occupies 60% of a website or pamphlet, while accent colors take 30% and background colors take 10%.

Generally, the primary color (60%) is used for backgrounds, text areas, and color blocking. The secondary color (30%) is used for sidebars, headlines and text call outs. The accent color (10%) is the boldest color being used in buttons, links, and CTAs.

The primary color of Facebook is blue which is used across their platform (on banners and some buttons) along with grey and white. The red of Coca Cola can be found on their banners, footers, and some buttons while the logo is in white. Hubspot has used its brand color “Orange” on its call to action buttons with a white background. 

Make sure your color scheme looks contrastive, visible and aesthetically pleasing.

Bottom Line:

It is important to choose the right colors as well as their harmonizing colors to creating a relevant color scheme for your target audience.

Although the process is time-consuming, it shouldn't be confusing and complicated. Just focus on your audience, color combination and the strategic placement of the scheme over your website and other products.


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