Maximising your colour palette can be one of the quickest and simplest changes to make without losing existing brand equity that has been built up. It also makes it easier to introduce new colours as you have a clear colour strategy.

The need for new colours can include the addition of sub-brands, expansion of products or services, a seasonal lift, or, to create greater distinction against competitors.

As your brand goes hand-in-hand with your business strategy your colour palette is a powerful tool that delivers plenty of visual impact. When businesses take stock and review their overall messaging and product / service offerings to stay relevant to audiences, the visual brand should communicate any updates made to fully drive the message across.

Understanding your colour palette is essential when managing how and when your colours are used. It protects your brand equity against dilution and reduced impact as an unclear colour palette can easily confuse your audience.


How to understand and control your colour palette for maximum effect

When managing colour palettes, we think in terms of three colour groups: a core, accent and neutral palette. Whether all three are required and how many you have in each depends on where and how brands operate. For example, if you produce reports with data charts, you will need more colours in your toolkit than if you have a single service line that applies to one coherent audience.

The use and combination of these three colour groups will deliver an effective system to manage the production of all your collateral:


Core palettes

Often – but not restricted to – this palette comes from the colours in your logo. They are the colours most frequently associated with your brand, anything from a single colour to two or three. Think of Netflix and you’ll think immediately of red – not just their logo, but the dominant colour that runs through their interface.

The teal in the Thompson Taraz logo is the dominant colour across their collateral. With two service groups and the type of communications they produce, keeping a tight, limited palette of colours works best

The teal in the Thompson Taraz logo is the dominant colour across their collateral. With two service groups and the type of communications they produce, keeping a tight, limited palette of colours works best


Accent palettes

Accent palettes add a lot of flexibility and are especially useful for brands that are research-based, as well as those with a wide range of products or services as colour can be used to separate them.

An accent palette makes each piece of communication feel fresh yet part of a family, and on a practical level, aids understanding and helps your audience quickly find relevant information.

If you’re changing your products or services, review the colours in your brand toolkit. Would colour-coding help your clients to better understand the choices available and make decisions?

AVCA has a broad palette for flexibility that adds vibrancy when appropriate, such as for training, or muted with pops of colour for their thought leadership reports and data analysis. Colours are split into family groups to make it both easy to control and harmonious

AVCA has a broad palette for flexibility that adds vibrancy when appropriate, such as for training, or muted with pops of colour for their thought leadership reports and data analysis. Colours are split into family groups to make it both easy to control and harmonious

Mobilise use colour to separate their two different service areas; technology, with software products that can be customised; and consultancy services. The colour signal changes of section in presentations and helps navigate to relevant area on the website

Mobilise use colour to separate their two different service areas; technology, with software products that can be customised; and consultancy services. The colour signal changes of section in presentations and helps navigate to relevant area on the website


Neutral palettes

For me, neutrals are the workhorse of a brand’s palette. The ones that aren’t really noticed yet just as important as the core palette. They are useful for everything from text to backgrounds, showing off your core palette. For some brands, such as Apple, neutrals are the core palette, adding sophistication and letting the products shine.

Swedish Chamber of Commerce – a palette of greys creates a calm, minimalist feel for the website

Swedish Chamber of Commerce – a palette of greys creates a calm, minimalist feel for the website


Remember your brand guidelines

Keeping your brand guidelines up-to-date helps everyone in your team, both internal and external, stay on track for coherent and recognisable marketing.


The key to success

The key is repeated and consistent usage – with research showing that colour is easy for us to remember, especially compared to words and shapes. This means applying colour in the right way can become an extremely valuable part of your brand’s toolkit. For any questions or a colour review, please get in touch!