Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Color wheels really make the job of the graphic designer or marketing director a little easier when determining a series of branding colors for a company. It is important to have a solid selection of colors that will enhance your marketing pieces and make them all have a cohesive look and feel that becomes your brand. You want these colors to convey a mood or feeling about your product.
You also need to think about all the various places you'll be promoting your product. For example, what if you only have 1 color option, or 2 color option, what colors will you use that keep your brand on point? What if the project calls for several colors, again which ones will be your branded options. Once you establish this list, protect it and make sure that everyone in your company, ad agency and other marketing outlets are sticking to these branded colors.
I usually start with the color that my client is using in their logo. I create a couple of monochromatic options. This way if I am designing just a one or two color piece, I have variations on that one color that will work well with black or white type.
Creating a palette of complimentary colors:
Complimentary colors are any two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. They create a high contrast to each other. Example is blue and orange; green and red. Using a couple of complimentary colors for your branding gives you great colors to make things stand out in your design.
Dual complimentary colors take two colors that are close to each other on the color wheel and pairs them with one or two colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel from them. This is a beautiful way to create a four hue palette for your client.
Once you have established the base of colors you will be working with, then you can play with the saturation of these colors. Looking at the pastel, vibrant, muted, natural, intense or rich variations on these colors and establish which ones work with best with the client logo and mood of the company.
I generally like to establish 6 primary colors for my clients brand. This gives me plenty to work with in designing their pieces and helps to keep things fresh.
When I provide these final colors to the client, I give them the various versions of them. I provide the PMS, CYMK, RGB and HEX codes. This way they are able to use their branded colors across all platforms and have the colors always appear very similar.
Tip... keep a color index or color wheel around your desk. It can provide inspiration for your future projects.