Messy paint palette in artist's studio

I am so excited.  I started the rebranding process of my stationery shop last week.  This has been a process that I’ve been planning for months, but finally got around to kicking it off.

Mostly, I found it hard to decide how to rebrand the shop.  Should I focus on a new logo, web design, colors or everything.

I finally decided that I am keeping a similar logo, but our color palette need to be updated to correspond the launch of our web shop on Shopify.

The good news is that now that I’ve been running the business for over seven years, I have a better idea of the look and feel I want customers to get when they visit.  I am thinking of a playful and relaxed feel to reflect our creative designs and easy to use format.

But choosing the best color palette to brand my business has been hard.  It’s not easy selecting colors that communicate the emotions of your shop to customers.

You have to select a color palette that express what your products are about, attract the right customers and look good on a screen and mobile device.  Yeah, it’s a bit more complicated than it looks.  And it’s an extremely important process.

Choosing the right colors is just as important as picking a great website theme.  When we started our online shop, I chose the color red as our base color.  Why?  Sadly, I have no idea.

Everyone at the time was going with pink.  And although I probably knew that pink was the ultimate best choice for my brand, I wanted to be different.  And red was different.  I’ll admit it was a more wine/burgundy red.  But, it was still red.

Red is not exactly the best choice for a business that creates sweet children’s paper goods and designs.  It is associated with energy, war and danger – although some will associate it with love and passion.

Although I do have a passion for what I do, I’m not sure communicating it through the color red was the best choice.  A bit far from the relaxed small town children’s boutiques that I was trying to model after.

When I finally researched the meaning of the color pink, I discovered that it represented the feminine, tenderness and friendship that I wanted our brand to capture.  It also is used to identify products geared to women and younger kids.  No wonder everyone was choosing it to represent their brands.

So, gone with the red and in with the new.  It’s definitely time to make a branding change in my shop.  And this process will start with selecting a new color palette.

Although choosing the best color palette to brand your business can be tricky to do without a professional, it is possible to pick something on your own that will work for your business with a little bit of guidance.

There are lots of ways you can learn more about the power of color and the best ways it can build your business.  Here are some ideas on how to get started.

Write down words that describe your business

Brainstorming is one of the best ways to get started on any large business task.  You want to get all of the ideas out there as possible without any limitations on thoughts.  This is no different when it comes to picking colors for your brand.

Working in a group (even sitting around the table with your kids works) or by yourself if you prefer, create a list of all of the words that you want used to describe your business.  They might be strong, energetic, passionate.  Or maybe pretty, sophisticated and kind.

Whatever the describing words are, write them down on a list to look at.  You’ll use these words to choose colors associated with them later on.

Become familiar to what colors represent

Each color represents something different.  For example, blue represents calm and trustworthiness.  Black symbolizes prestige and sophistication.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did and choose your colors blindly. Before selecting the colors that best showcase your brand, check out this amazing color guide from Black Bear Design to see what feelings each color connects too.

After reviewing each color choice and their word associations, look over the list of describing words for your business.  Do any of them match?  If so, those are the colors you want to consider starting with when designing your business look.

If you have trouble finding a match, think about which of those describing words represent the feel you want for your business.  That also might be a good starting place.

Use a photo that inspires you

After you have an idea what color you might start with, now you can explore finding the right hue or shade of that color.  You also need to mix that color with one or two other colors so they complement each other and make a bolder statement.

One way to find colors that might work is to use an inspiration photo.  Select a photo that represents the look and feel of your business.

I seem always drawn to relaxing photos from the beach when I think of Katarina’s Paperie.  It is supposed to be a place where moms can relax, listen to the ocean waves and choose stationery pretties that their kids will enjoy.

So, when looking for new colors for our brand I focused on the colors in these relaxing beach photos.  My customers might not be able to actually hear the waves crashing when they stop by, but I want the same relaxing feel communicated to them.

Don’t have your own photo collection to browse, you can try a free stock photo site for inspiration.  To find a color in the photo to use, upload the photo into Adobe Color CC.  You can move the circles over the color section that you would like to use.  Click on it and the colors from the photo will be recreated into your own personal color palette.

Browse local small businesses or online shops

Color is important to setting the right look and feel of your business.  But sometimes when starting a business, you aren’t sure what the look and feel should be yet.  That’s okay.  It can take time to truly get to know your business.

For inspiration, go on a small business browse in your community or even online.  Check out other businesses in similar genres and see what they are doing that’s working.  Do you like the colors they use and how they use them?  Do you like the feeling those colors communicate?  Would you buy from them?

Make notes about what you find from other local shops.  Remember, you aren’t trying to copy any one.  This is just for inspiration and to understand better the connection between color and branding.

Inside of a colorful tent looking upwards with the text overlay "How to choose the best colors to brand your business"

Try a color selection tool

If you’re still stumped on selecting the right colors, try using a color selection tool.  There are lots of fun and free color tools on the web to help you create the best color palette.

My two favorites are Color Hunt and Adobe Color CC.  On Color Hunt, you will need to write down the color code to use in your design (or give to your designer).  The color code is the number/letter combination that comes after the #.  It looks like #XXXXXX and has a combination of numbers and letters.

This code is magic when it comes to communicating color in your business brand.  You can use it to replicate the color throughout all of the designs you make for your business.  From the font color on a blog post Pinterest graphic to your business card logo.

If you use Adobe Color CC to find a colors, you can save your color palette and reopen in a design program.  From there you can also get the color code (or even the RGB values, but I don’t want to confuse you) to use in your design.

Make multiple color palettes

Did you finally fall in love with a perfect color palette?  I know it’s wonderful to think your color journey is complete.  Finding colors for your brand can be hard work.

I recommend, though, coming up with a few more choices before completely settling.  You’ll want to compare a couple different color palettes and make sure that the ones you selected really speak to your business.  Create several different color palettes and try them out on your logo and website.  This gives you an easy way to compare and make a final decision.

Create a discussion group

Before choosing the color mix that you like best, bring a few more viewpoints into the discussion.  You can create a discussion group of trusted peers, business mentors or even family.  Let them look at the options and give some feedback.  You might gain valuable insight on which direction to go.

Want to take your process more public?  Consider posting your logo with the different color palettes on social media for some more public feedback.  Or you could send the options out to your mailing list and see what your raving fans think.  The people who shop (or will be going to shop) from you might be your best gauge for where to take your shop next.

Final Thoughts…

Colors represent so many things about your business – how you want it to look, feel and represent your products.  It can be a really difficult process to choose the best colors to showcase all of those things.

If you are having trouble choosing the right color mix, consider hiring a professional designer or at least seeking outside help.  The color selection process can get personal, so you want to be positive you are making the right decision.

For Katarina’s Paperie, we settled on a light teal and darker pink for our new branding.  These colors were introduced in our new logo, website, Shopify and Etsy shop.

When implementing your color selection, remember that you’ll need to change them in all of their locations – from social media to your online shops.  This will guarantee consistency of branding for your entire business.

Starting to get some color combination ideas?  Feel free to share some color ideas below for feedback.  I’d love to help!