Most successful brands have a core group of colors that they use in every communication and marketing extension of their business. Consider this core color group your brand’s trusted group of friends that are “always in” – The cool color crowd. Typically you have only 1-3 colors in your “core palette.”
Let’s imagine we are designing for a modern health brand (note we made this company up just to use as an example for this post) and we want a core group of colors to be deep teals.
Now just because your brand has a core group of colors, doesn’t mean it’s a tight clique where it can’t be seen with other colors. This is where we introduce secondary color palettes to the mix, consider these your brand color “acquaintances”. Your brand might be seen pretty often with these but they aren’t necessarily the trusted “Core Group”. In fact, they help support the primary group by giving them a little more variety and background support as needed.
Adding to the Core Group referenced in #1, here is an example of supporting colors that would complement the core group of colors.
But wait, there’s always a rebel in school or that one really cool kid that just never hung out with the same people at the same time. This is the tertiary color palette for your brand, the rebel cool kid that just is too hot to handle all the time. We reserve these colors for the special applications of your brand like “calls to action” on your website or perhaps reserve only for a single marketing channel like social media to make that a unique experience for your customers and prospects.
Consider creating a one-time use color palette that is reserved for a certain campaign you run only once a year…
No matter the colors you choose for your brand, just know that you are never limited to ONLY using your core brand colors. Explore and play as your brand grows and as you communicate across new channels.
Let’s take a look at how our made-up brand “Modern Health” would use the core, support, and tertiary colors in a simple social post.
Core Colors. Your core colors are your brand’s best friends, and use them on EVERY piece of communication where your brand is present.
Support Colors. Your brand has secondary colors that complement and do not distract from the core group. These colors are more subtle and can add a nice background or color support to your brand.
Tertiary Colors. The rebels! These colors have limited use and your brand uses these special colors to express a unique experience across certain marketing channels (like calls to action on your website only) or are reserved for specialty campaigns.