It would be nice if every time you needed something designed, you had a designer on tap. Every time you needed some social media graphics, or some handouts designed, or some presentation slides made pretty, but alas, sometimes you just gotta D.I.Y. it!
So here’s a top tip, or rather a big mistake to avoid: Don’t use every colour under the sun (or every color under the sun, for our American friend’s) in your designs.
Because here’s the problem…whether your customers are designers or not, our minds are trained in such a way where the majority of us just know what looks right and what doesn’t, and so when your colour palette goes way off brand – subconsciously or not – everybody knows it.
On the flip side if you stick with a colour palette, your brand is tied together, everything seems deliberate, and subconsciously you tell your potential customers to take your brand seriously.
So here’s a rule for you that will never fail…
RULE: Find out exactly what colours you are allowed to use when you design anything for yourself, and stick to these colours only.
Knowing your brand colours
Depending on what kind of software you are using it may ask for the ‘colour code’ in different formats. The standard for online graphics is a ‘Hex Code’, which is a # followed by 6 characters. If you need a different colour code such as RGB, CMYK or Pantone, you can use this website to do the conversion: www.rgb.to
ACTION: Now for each of the following, we want you to write down the Hex Code for your brand colours, this will form your brand colour pallet, and will let you know which colours you can use.
Primary: This is the main colour you want people to associate with your brand. For us, it is the atomic orange which is #ff9900. This is an important colour to get right, as different colours do have different meanings. For most companies, you’ll know already what your primary colour is (e.g. Red, Blue, Purple), but it is important to know your exact shade by knowing your hex code too.
Secondary: You may also have a secondary colour that complements the primary colour well and breaks up the primary colour when needed. You may have noticed we often use a blue colour to do this, which is #0b98d3. Choose a colour that isn’t going to clash, but work with your primary colour to complement your overall brand.
Text: It is also a good idea to know what colour your text should be in two scenarios – on a white background and on your primary/secondary colours. When using text on our primary and secondary colours we tend to stick to white text (#ffffff), which we would recommend too if your colours aren’t too bright. On a white background, rather than going for a solid black, sometimes a dark grey looks a little nicer. For example this text you are reading is actually not fully black but rather #707070
How to highlight something
Probably the biggest mistakes we see D.I.Y. designers do when designing something occurs when they want to make something “stand out,” and rather than sticking to the colour palette they’ll turn the text an off-brand colour (usually bright red or green). This diminishes your brand credibility. So, instead of doing this we want you to try something else – ensure everything on the canvas is in your primary colour apart from this main Most Wanted Action, put this in your secondary colour instead, increase the size of the font too if you want to make more of an impact. You can also PUT IT IN CAPS, or bold, or have it outlined in some way. But please, just stay away from bright garish colours and symbols – that means no big red stars!
Isn’t this restrictive?
We aren’t saying these colours are the only colours that you should ever see in your marketing, however if you are DIYing something, we would definitely recommend sticking to these rules. An experienced designer will be able to incorporate more colours, and shades of colours into a design and make it look good, but that’s the expertise you are paying them for! 🙂
Any questions about brand colours and how to use them appropriately then leave them below…