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The anatomy of an effective color palette

Ready to learn what makes an effective color palette? Then first things first!

A color palette is made up of five colors:

  1. Primary Color
  2. Secondary Color
  3. Accent Color
  4. Dark Neutral 
  5. Light Neutral

Let’s make it real:

If your color palette looks like the example above, you’re golden and you can safely close this email and move on with your day. If your color palette looks like the example below, then “Houston, we have a problem!”

Having too many fully saturated colors in your palette is likely to make your designs look “clowney”, “childish” but more importantly, it’s going to make it extremely challenging for YOU to marry your colors together in a balanced way. 

I can’t emphasize this enough: 


And this is what most people’s color palettes are missing. So, if you feel like this applies to you, it’s time to get yourself some neutrals to round out (and ground) your eclectic color palette.

Why are neutrals so important? Because they are like the supporting cast in a movie. They complement and elevate your main brand colors. They give your audience visual relief from your main brand colors and, by contrast, allow your primary colors to stand out that much more.

Your neutral colors can be shades of gray for a cooler vibe or shades of brown/beige for a warmer energy. Your neutrals can also be lighter shades of your primary or secondary colors like in the example below.

If you’d like a more “understated” color palette, you can opt for a two-tone palette or a “collapsed color palette” with only 3 colors. This is the composition of a two-tone palette.

That’s it for today’s color palette class! You now have a better understanding of how to properly curate your color palette. 

Wanna skip the guesswork? We’ve got tons of pre-made color palettes in the Color Shop that are all built using the system you just read about. These color palettes are first come, first served. So grab your favorite palette before someone else calls dibs on it!

Hi there, I'm Nadine

Welcome to the Digital Brand Kit blog. This is where I share my best tips, tricks and hacks to help you elevate your brand game and sharpen your design skills. If you’re an online expert who wants to show up as the best version of yourself, the content on these pages was made with love, just for you. 

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