Why do I need a colour palette?

Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design | Blog Post

Colour can be daunting. No, really.

It’s one of those weird things - one of the small things that are easy to stumble on. And I think because under a guise of simplicity lies a big scary world of hidden meaning and consequence.

So let’s clear that up. Move on from the doom and gloom!

As kids we’re taught the names of colours. As we grow we learn about the tiers of primary and secondary colours and maybe even get a glance at a colour wheel. 

Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design | Blog | Colour
Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design | Blog | Colour

We form ideas about what colours we like and what we don’t. Whether our wardrobe is a rainbow or muted greys and blacks [sahhh Melbourne], colour says a lot about us. Our opinions are of course based on appreciation and personal style, but when it comes to business, the choice behind colours bears much more weight.


Colour is more than something you like

Colours help communicate with your audience. Colours can share a message and your vibe, without words at all. The right colours relate to your customers, and can help to attract and repel those you engage with. Certain colours also help place you in the market. It's not good enough to assign a colour to a brand just because you like it. It needs to connect with you brand and more importantly, to your audience. It needs to align and appeal to them, and draw the right attention.

Fun exercise!

- Think of a scale ranging from fluoro yellow to navy blue.

- What are some words that you can associate with the yellow? And the navy..?

- If a logo was made from either of those colours, who do you think their target market might be?

- What might they be communicating about their brand?


Colours have meanings

I have a thing for psychology. I love thinking about thinking … and running ideas around in circles. So when I can tie my loves - design and psychology - together, I’m one happy lass.

The psychology of colour is based on the mental and emotional effects colours have on people in all facets of life. There are some very subjective pieces to colour psychology as well as some more accepted and proven elements. There will also be variations in interpretation, meaning, and perception between different cultures.


In a nutshell, colours carry meaning and can help convey attributes of your brand without word or image. This graph explains beautifully the attributes of each colour and show examples of brands that fit within each part of the spectrum.


How we show colour

This is how we show a colour palette when creating logos or branding.


Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design | Blog | Colour


Rules for a successful colour palette

- Keep it simple. Always.

- Pick no more than 3 colours. 

- Include black and white as additional colours. 

- Select colours that work together - as a whole but also 1:1.

- Remember that you can work with tones of your select colour.

- Consider your competition and avoid their colour palette like the plague.

- Invest time in gathering inspiration and coming up with ideas.

- Test and change to find a harmonious palette that represents the message you're wanting to communicate.


So, why do I need a colour palette?

As minimalistic trends have grown in popularity, there’s been a big shift towards utilising colours as a way of supplementing the removal of other design elements. With often-simple interfaces, this emphasis on colour acts not only to guide the viewer’s attention to important elements, but also to make a design feel more memorable. 

A colour palette is crucial for businesses because it assists people viewing your brand understand who you are, what you do and who you want to deal with. It goes further in developing the identity of your brand in a way that's deeper and more personal than words or images alone. It's also the best way to help people remember you.