Skip to main content

art & design

Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Lesson 5 of 9

Choosing Colors For Your Brand

Danielle McWaters

Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Danielle McWaters

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

5. Choosing Colors For Your Brand

Lesson Info

Choosing Colors For Your Brand

So let's talk about color. So again, these are all really, you could spend hours and hours, I could spend hours talking about color. But I wanna again, just kind of give you the basics and give you some guidelines to use as you're selecting colors for your brand. So try to think of it as, you've got a primary color, you have a secondary color, and an accent color. It's like your flair. Okay? So, when you're selecting your colors, kind of analyze them. Ask yourself these questions, as in like, why did you select them? You know, they could be really beautiful colors and they're maybe your favorite colors. But are they actually supporting your brand essences. So again, these are the things that are gonna keep you in line. So, and also, do they support key aspects of your strategy? so, how do you think, you know, you really may like them. And maybe you think that they're gonna, you know, work well internally. But you also have to think about, okay, so but what happens when we get it out th...

ere? Research your colors. So colors actually have a lot of emotions that they evoke in people. And you can look all of this stuff up. But, you know, I mean, blue is used a lot. And it's because it's like people's favorite color. And it's really calming. And there's like, there's a lot of emotional connotations that go with those, like with that color. So, that exists for all of the colors. So, you know, say if I were to, maybe I'm doing, I have a, I don't know, medical research company. And the stuff that we do is like pretty serious stuff. I may not use purple and yellow and some really bright energetic colors if it's not really aligning with my essences of I really wanna be a strong authoritative voice in this industry. So try to think about is it appropriate? But also, and also think about where your product or service is gonna be. So there's a lot of cultural contexts that you have to think about. Like if you're selling your product only here. Or if you're selling it in Europe. Or Asia. Or, there's a lot of things that you should think about. So make sure to take the time and do the research on those colors that you're selecting for your brand. And also, again, how is it affecting the perception and differentiation of your brand? So particularly in consumer package goods, if you go to a store, and you're going down the aisle, and maybe you're buying soap for your, dishwasher soap or hand soap. I mean, there's all the ones there. And if you just take your time and look through the labels and the colors, some use color to actually differentiate their product line. Some use one solid color to make that, their product label pop. So think about how does it fit for your brand? But also actually how is it working for you to continue to strengthen your competitive advantage? And again, like I said, make sure it's just appropriate for your business or for your industry. And then, lastly, I like to focus on three to five colors. It depends what you're doing, but I think it's a really great starting point. And as you grow your brand, and particularly if you have a product and you launch with maybe three products. And then you know that your product line is gonna continue to grow or there's gonna be maybe sub-categories, it's really important to, color's actually a really great way to continue to grow your product line while still feeling on brand. So also, I use this 60, 30, 10 rule. Which basically means that for your primary color you should use that 60% on whatever it is that you're doing. So whether it's a, whether it's you're website or your business cards, or your marketing collateral, whatever it is, that primary color should basically take up 60% of what you're designing. And 30% for your secondary color. And 10% for your accent color. So accent color I like to kind of think of as like either a foil or a metallic or maybe a neon. It's like, like I said, its kind of like your flair. So it's fun to think about what opportunities could I use this little bit of accent color to again, create recognition for your brand. But also, kind of just create some flair. So another thing on color is consistency. And this is hard. So, it, and particularly when you're talking about print versus web. So there are, you're striving to essentially make your color palette look consistent through everything that you do. Again that's just reinforcing this element of consistency and cohesiveness across your brand. So typically what I like to do when I'm developing color palettes with my clients is we'll pick pan tone colors. And, pan tone colors are basically a very specific set of colors. There's pan tone books out there that you guys can purchase. And it basically has all these array of colors that are very, very specific. And they created basically a universal system that people use in branding so that, if I have for instance, my candle company, and I'm printing it here. And I'm also gonna have a special batch of my labels run in Europe, I can say, I'm gonna use this pan tone, like my brand pan tone color is this. You need to use the same thing. And that basically ensures that the quality that I'm getting here will actually match the quality that I get in Europe. So, they're basically using the same exact color system that I'm using here. So with pan tone colors, there's also CMYK and RGB breakdowns. So CMYK is cyan, magenta, yellow, black. And that's for printing. So, pan tone colors are great for consistency. But sometimes can be expensive. So, particularly when it comes to printing. And again, that's because it's a very specific color. It's not a CMYK processed color. So, basically if you're thinking about it in terms of like plates, if you're printing something, that pan tone color's gonna go on its own separate plate. So that's why you're basically paying for that plate. So when you don't have the budget to always print pan tone colors, which, if you're a newer small business, you won't. It's thinking about the best opportunities to spend the money on when you can use those colors. But, there are CMYK and RGB breakdowns of those specific pan tone colors. So that you can get as close as possible to that original pan tone color when you're printing with CMYK. And then RGB is for web. It's for screen. There's also hex colors. So again, pan tone has RGB breakdowns. And hex breakdowns. So that when you're building your website you have the ability to, again, create color consistency on web. So, going back to the case study example, we have three pan tone colors that we selected for our company. And again, I picked these colors because one, I felt like they were with my organic essence. So I'm calling on the green from the farm. Kind of this rose petalish color from some of the flowers that we're using in our ingredients. And I liked this kind of beige neutral color 'cause it felt very in the Earthy tones palette. So that way, again, all of my colors reinforce this organic brand essence. So, color. So, and again, you kind of saw these throughout my mood board. But now I'm giving them specific pan tone colors so I know I'm creating consistency across the board. Yeah. I have a quick question. I noticed that these brand colors tie very well into the stuff that was under your mood board. Is there a tool to pull the most used generalized colors into some essential colors? So, some things that you can do are, like if you bring an image into Illustrator or Photoshop you can actually use the color sampling tool. So if you're like, oh, I really like this kind of peachy hue that's in this picture, I can sample it. The biggest thing to do is then go into your color palette and see what the CMYK and RGB breakdown is. And then I would actually go back from there and go back to your pan tone book. That way you make sure that you have all versions available to you. But that's a good way to kind of select the color palettes based on your mood board.

Class Description


What does it take to create a successful brand? A strong, clear message and visual consistency is what builds trust, and this course will help you define this. Danielle runs her own successful design studio, specializing in branding. 

She’ll guide you through the process of branding your business from start to finish, including how to:

  • Establish a point of view through tone, messaging and voice 
  • Define your vision, core values and how you position yourself in the market 
  • Create a visual style guide that provides a reference for color, typography, and image styling
This class will teach you how to effectively articulate and communicate your brand to your audience visually, creating cohesion through every touch-point. From how you talk about yourself, to what typeface you use, creating cohesion and clarity builds trust. Position your brand to stand out from the crowd!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brand Questionnaire

Branding 101 - Companion

Branding 101 - Resources

Style Guide Templates

Style Guide Example - Slow Candle Co

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


- Emma -

Just finished watching the course. Absolutely loved it! I have no experience in branding at all and this course has given me so much information that will help me a lot. I am so excited to get started and creating my brand style sheet. Thank you so much Danielle you were brilliant! Constructive criticism: If would be better if you knew the information rather than reading off the screen in front of you. Paraphrasing would help, too. But very good job nonetheless!

Vivian Bustamante

Great information with handy resources to use after and apply into our own project. The concepts explained made it more clear and I loved the quotes Danielle used to explain this words we heard a lot when talking about branding, the mission, vision, etc. These weren't clear to me up until this point. Thanks so much!


This was so comprehensive and the resources are wonderful! I couldn't recommend this course enough. I loved the deep dive into the colors, type, and all visual aspects of a brand.