What is Colour Theory for Brand Design

How to select your brand colours?

Colour selection is infinitely subjective, but branding isn’t about choosing red or blue for your logo because it’s your favourite colour. Actually, it’s about reflecting everything that you’ve hopefully worked through in defining your brand value (check out our Brand Values worksheet if you haven’t).

When we started building out Kuriet’s brand personality we thought about all the things we wanted our clients to associate us with. In particular, the things that we believe in passionately: being creative marketers and bringing back the joy of storytelling that was being taken over by never-ending marketing data analytics - often meaningless at best and made up at worst!

Colour theory psychology and emotion

For Kuriet, we wanted a colour that represents the joy and fun behind our north-star of creativity and storytelling, so we selected yellow as our primary colour. As a primary colour itself it often represents happiness, sunlight and creativity.

A quick side-note: those of you who've watched our video on Top Tips to find your Brand Name will remember our hot tip 🔥 about using primary colours in your brand palette.

Back to our choice of yellow for Kuriet. In connection with our name originating from the anglicised Japanese word for creative, kurieto, yellow in Japan also represents courage. 

So this colour has a strong meaning for our brand as we want people to have the courage to be creative with their marketing which we enable by shedding light and making simple the complexity of the campaign and performance analytics.

The colour wheel in a nutshell and how to use it

So what is colour theory? In a nutshell it helps designers select useful colour combinations from the colour wheel. GFCLearnFree.org has a great short video explaining the basics. Touching very lightly on the science behind colour theory, there are four main colour schemes that are often used to create harmonious colour palettes.


Analogous colour scheme
Analogous colour scheme: these beige, peach, pink and red colours are adjacent to other on the colour wheel

Analogous colour scheme is where one main colour is paired with two other colours directly next to it on the colour wheel. This scheme is always easy on the eye and often used to create softer colour palettes either cooler or warmer hues.

Complimentary colour scheme
Complimentary colour scheme: orange and blue are opposite each other on the colour wheel

Complimentary colour schemes are based on two colours that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. This scheme allows for much greater contrast, but be careful not to overuse the contrast. In this scheme, one colour usually acts as the primary colour, while the second is used as an accent.

Monochromatic colour scheme
Monochromatic colour scheme: varying shades and tints of purple

Monochromatic colour schemes are based on a single hue (aka colour) at different shades (aka darkness, when black is added to the colour) and tints (aka lightness, when white is added to the colour). This scheme is often used to create more subdued colour palettes where you don’t need any strong highlights of colour-pops.

Triadic colour scheme
Triadic colour scheme: the shades of pinkish-red, blue and green form a triadic palette

Triadic colour schemes use three colours spaced like an equilateral triangle around the colour wheel. This is a high-contrast colour scheme that is great in charts where you want to be able to easily differentiate between the different pieces of information or data.

However, like the complimentary colour scheme, it can get visually-heavy if you use all 3 colours in equal balance. So always try to select one as the primary colour to use the most of and be a little more sparing with the use of the second and third colours.

If you want to try out any of these colour schemes Adobe Colour has a great colour wheel app to test out these schemes and a few more!

Kuriet's analogous colour scheme
Kuriet's colour palette uses an analogous scheme

As we wanted a cheerful palette we went with an analogous colour scheme to include other similar warm colours to yellow. We’ve been pretty bold in our selection of warm colours using a brighter yellow as our secondary colour and an orange as our “highlight” colour. Similar to yellow, orange in Eastern philosophy represents the creative energy centre as the second chakra in the Ayurvedic system.

Too much of all of these colours easily becomes visually crass, so we’ve had to be judicious about the way we apply them together. Check out our website, and you can judge how well we've done this!

On a final note, one of my favourite reference books for colour is “The Designer’s Dictionary of Colour” by Sean Adams which isn’t overwhelming in its presentation of colour theory and has given me tons of inspiration for lots of projects. So I'd recommend it if you're stuck on what colours to select for your brand.

As always, we're here to listen and help, so if you would like a hand with selecting your brand palette reach out to us through our complimentary consultation session.

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