It may sound like a small decision, but choosing the color palette for your brand is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when establishing your business. Graphic design color palettes can make a huge difference to how users perceive your brand. When you choose appropriate colors, it feels “right.” However, if you select the “wrong” colors, users may feel confused or uncomfortable. They may even form a negative impression of your brand without knowing anything about you.
2021 Graphic Design Color Trends
A good place to start is with graphic design trends. If you’re choosing something that’s popular in 2021, you’ll present your brand as modern and entice users without them even being consciously aware of why they feel attracted to your brand.
Rich Colors on a Pale Background
To express the sense of hope and positivity we all need this year, designers are choosing rich tones as the main color with a similar tone in a paler shade for the background. Particularly popular in this trend are pink, orange, red, coral, and magenta.
In a similar vein, designers are opting for colors that evoke harmony. The best way to create this is to use a range of shades of the same tone to create a gradient. An alternative would be to use colors that appear next to each other on the color wheel.
To combat the sense of boredom users may be feeling at the same time as presenting a brand as being different from the rest, some businesses are opting for unexpected color palettes. Take advantage of this trend to be as experimental as you like.
Black and White
You cannot fail to stand out if your color palette is made up of no colors! Black and white is looking to be a big trend for 2021, building on the muted color palettes of last year. Black and white takes one of the top 2020 color palette trends to another level for added impact. This trend encompasses grayscale as well as pure black and white with no shades in between.
Ultimate Gray and Illuminating
Pantone usually chooses one color of the year. In 2021, however, the company has opted for two: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a vibrant yellow). Together, these colors express practicality and optimism, strength and positivity. It’s exactly what we need this year. Consider using these shades for your own color palette along with a third color or use slightly different shades. Either way will allow you to customize the trend and make it your own.
Best Color Combinations for Logos and Websites
Some of the above trends don’t tell you exactly what colors to use. For that, you need to look at graphic design colors that go together.
Bright Red or Orange with Black
Bright red or orange help you stand out, whereas black allows the design to pop. If you choose red, make sure it is a bright red rather than a dull red, though. Otherwise, you may come across as gloomy.
Orange with Turquoise
We already saw that unexpected color combinations are a top trend this year, but what exact tones work? One option is orange and turquoise — they’re two colors you wouldn’t normally associate with each other, but they can complement each other well when you choose the right shades. Other choices include violet and orange, lilac and yellow, or black and teal.
Yellow, Orange, Red
Fiery colors like yellow, orange, and red placed together are powerful. The warmth is inviting and the boldness enticing.
Green and Blue with Off-white
Combining green with blue is soothing and ties in with the analogous colors trend. Sometimes it’s a good idea to include a third tone for more visual interest. Off-white or gray are top choices.
Ice Blue with Gold
A color palette featuring ice blue and gold allows you to stand out, but it’s still gentle on the eyes. Allow the blue to dominate your design and add just a touch of gold.
Blue and Beige
A calming combination is blue with beige. If you like this idea, make sure you don’t go too pale with the blue, as your color palette will end up looking washed out.
Purple and Yellow
Friendly, warm, and modern, purple and yellow are ideal for expressing that your brand is fun but also trustworthy.
Navy Blue with Pale Pink
For a stark contrast that still feels gentle, opt for a combination of something like navy and pale pink. The color palette is both warm and cool; plus, it works for a variety of situations.
If you want to express that your brand is all about natural or healthy products, organic tones are the way to go. To give your color palette a contemporary edge, switch things up from the more traditional soft brown with green and pair brown with a dash of red, purple, or orange.
The Worst Color Combinations
Equally important is to avoid the worst color combinations for graphic design.
Red and Blue without the White
If you’re going down the patriotic route, make sure you use all three colors. Just red and blue is overwhelming, but adding in the white can prevent your color palette from being overly bold.
Yellow and Green
Combining two bright colors like yellow and green can quickly tire the eyes. It’s also difficult to read any superimposed text on these colors.
Green and Red
Consumers often associate green and red with Christmas. Unless your niche is something related to the holiday season, you’d better steer clear of this color combination.
Purple and Green
Two more colors that are overpowering when put together are purple and green. Plus, if you’re targeting Millennials or Gen Z consumers, there’s a risk that this color palette will remind them of Barney the dinosaur.
Online Color Palette Resources
For additional support choosing a color palette for graphic design, you may like to check out some online resources. There is a large number to choose from, all of which offer something slightly different.
For advice from a community of graphic designers, turn to COLOURlovers. Users share a variety of color palettes as well as patterns and standalone colors to consider. You can also read about color trends in web design and contribute your own thoughts.
The Pigment tool from ShapeFactory is simple but highly effective. You choose from a rainbow of colors and the tool shows you which tones work well together. You can adjust both pigment and lighting to arrive at a color palette you love. The tool even tells you the HTML color codes of the tones, which you can click to copy.
Every day, Color Hunt uploads a new color palette to give you inspiration. You can check how many people liked each palette for a better idea of what is likely to be popular.
If you’re already using Adobe software for graphic design, it’s worthwhile adding Adobe Color to the mix. You can find recommended color palettes and experiment with creating your own. You can then download color palettes to use through Adobe Creative Cloud.
For information about the meanings of colors, turn to Color Matters. It’s packed with resources on topics ranging from symbolism to design and marketing. If you have a query related to color, you can find the answer here.
Support Choosing Colors for Graphic Design
Unless you have a background in design, the likelihood is you’ll struggle to arrive at the best color palette for your brand on your own, even if you do use the above resources. A better option is to ask a graphic design virtual assistant to select a color palette for you.
The graphic design virtual assistants at MYVA360 understand color rules in graphic design. They will find the right option for your brand according to what is best for your niche, based on industry research. Then, they will use this color palette for all your design needs, helping you to maintain a consistent brand image in all your marketing. Schedule a consultation to receive a special 10-percent discount on your graphic design VA.