Make your brand sing: understanding colour harmony

Close your eyes and think about some of your favorite music. Hear the different voices of your favorite band blend together perfectly. For me, Barenaked Ladies are fantastic. Amazing harmony. Together, they are more than the sum of their parts, their collective sound resonates deeper than any one artist could achieve alone. 

Now imagine you heard some voices that didn’t match perfectly together. You may not understand that C and F# are not were not compatible in music theory, you’d just know they didn’t sound quite right together. You may crinkle your nose or press skip on Spotify.

To avoid people skipping your brand when they come across it, you want to choose brand colours that are in harmony with each other. 

Sing it from the Mountain

Getting your brand to look polished takes more than Canva and Pinterest. Even though Canva has made creating more accessible, knowledge of design principles (aka the Design Mountain) is needed to achieve great design. In music, different notes go together based on music harmony rules and in design, different colours go together based on colour harmony rules. 

“In colour theory, colour harmony refers to the property that certain aesthetically pleasing colour combinations have. These combinations create pleasing contrasts and consonances that are said to be harmonious.” – Wikipedia 

Understanding colour harmony can help you move your brand one step closer to looking professional and polished. Having a harmonous colour palette helps you create a brand that is cohesive and attractive. 

Music for your Eyes

We know that when picking colours for a brand, the first priority should be an accurate match between the feelings you want people to feel in the colours that portray those feelings. The second priority should be colour harmony. When you put your different brand colours together in different combinations, does it sing to you or does it fall flat? 

Believe it or not, we all started learning about colour harmony when we were also learning Row, Row, Row Your Boat. In elementary school, we learned about the colour wheel and complementary colors. Remember? 

Picture a colour wheel and draw a line between colors on opposite sides. These are complementary colours.

Complimentary colours are one example of colour harmony rules but there are many more such as: 

Analogous harmony rules use colours that are next to each other on the color wheel. 

Monochromatic harmony rules are shades of the same colour on the colour wheel.

Triadic harmony rules use colours that are equally spaced on the colour wheel.

As you start to explore brand colour combinations that obey these rules, you’ll sing their praises and so will your customers. 

Strike a Brand Chord

A typical musical chord is 3 notes. A typical brand palette is 3-5 colours. Using too many colours, or too many notes, disrupts the harmony and the result is not pleasing. 

The goal is to find 3-5 colours that look good next to each other, can be placed on top of each other and when used together, are appealing. 

Musical chords are built by putting named notes together. Professional colour palettes are built from feelings, contexts and colour harmony. 

There’s also a level of accessibility to consider. For people who have vision issues, sometimes the contrast between brand colours is not acceptable. As we all prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, making sure our brand colours meet accessible guidelines is one way we can do our part. 

This level of thought and detail about colour comes from graphic designers who have years of experience and training but may not be present in business owners who are experts in their industry, their business advisors or friends. 

Consider hiring an expert to help you compose your perfect colour palette and make your brand sing. Book your free discovery call with me to get started.