As a brand designer, I love to name the colours in my brand colour palettes but the importance of doing so never really hit me until I considered how much we lack in our vocabulary of colour names.
If your colour vocabulary is lacking and you're struggling to pinpoint your perfect brand colour, I’ve pulled together a list of popular colour names as a handy guide.
You'll also find helpful notes on colour psychology and some colour pairing suggestions to help you when choosing the right colours for your brand.
Understanding Colour Names
Colour names are not absolute. It’s important to remember that how we see and recognise a colour will depend on both our experience of that colour and the quality of the light we are viewing it in.
The more we are exposed to different colours the more we are able to recognise them by name: A makeup artist, for instance, might have an in-depth vocabulary for reds and pink but lack the words to describe colours less prominent in makeup - green and blue.
Blue Colour Names & Shades
The Ancient Greek’s did not have a specific word for the colour blue. The word for blue kyaneos was also used to describe dark green, violet, black or brown.
You might be surprised to know that some cultures don’t have a word for the colour blue. In both Thai and Vietnamese, the word for green describes the colour of the sky.
Blue is the most widely accepted colour across the spectrum and has come up time and again as the world’s favourite colour.
Here are some Blue colour names to consider for your brand:
- Ice Blue
- Powder Blue
- Soft Cyan
- Tiffany Blue
- French Navy
- Lapis Blue
- Air Force Blue
- Oxford Blue
- Cerulean Blue
- Azure Blue
- Moroccan Blue
- Midnight Blue
- Arctic Blue
- Sky Blue
- Royal Blue
Blue Colour Psychology
Blue represents calm, clarity, logic, serenity, reflection, but can convey a sense of sadness and coolness. Blue represents honesty & integrity. It is known as the colour of communication which is why you’ll see companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter using it.
Green Colour Names & Shades
- Kelly Green
- Bottle Green
- Sea Glass
Green Colour Psychology
Green is the colour of nature, growth and health. Green also symbolises luck (think a 4 leaf clover) and renewal. But it can also make you green with envy and signify jealousy.
Steeped in the natural world, green can create a sense of balance, calm and harmony. It has the soothing ability to gentle rebalance our energy.
Red Colour Names & Shades
- True Red
- Pillar Box
Red Colour Psychology
Red is a strong vibrant colour, the colour of passion and energy but overused it can evoke feelings of anger. Red can create a sense of action, excitement and motivation. Red also evokes sensual energy and feelings of desire.
Red is also one of the first colours our eye sees on the colour spectrum, so if you are looking to stand out in person and online, wear red.
Pink Colour Names & Shades
- Baker-Miller Pink
- Millenial Pink
- Schocking Pink
- Neon Pink
- Barbie Pink
- Baby Pink
- Hot Pink
- Soft Rose
- Candy Floss
Pink Colour Psychology
Pink is a calming colour, it represents compassion, love and nurturing. Pink represents femininity and softer energy. Darker tones of pink can be fun and playful.
Evidence shows that there is less conflict in pink surroundings. Too much Pink can physically weaken you, in fact, one particular pink colour - Baker-Miller Pink (also known as drunk-tank pink) has been used for its ability to calm violent and aggressive prisoners.
Purple Colour Names & Shades
- Royal Purple
- Cadbury Purple
Purple Colour Psychology
The colour Purple inspires imagination, spirituality, mystery and magic. It also has strong ties to Royalty, wealth and luxury.
Violet, having the highest frequency on the colour wave spectrum is often associated with connecting us to our higher, spiritual nature.
Orange Colour Names & Shades
- Burnt Orange
Orange Colour Psychology
Orange signifies vibrant energy and is the colour of optimism. A mix of both red and yellow, taking on the energetic traits of red and the happiness of yellow. Orange can signify enthusiasm, rejuvenation and vitality.
Be careful though, overused orange can feel cheap, over-bearing and insincere.
Yellow Colour Names & Shades
- Sunshine Yellow
- Neon Yellow
- Old Gold
Yellow Colour Psychology
Yellow is bright and attention-grabbing, it can conjure both feelings of happiness and alarm (danger signs). Yellow can be cheerful but it is difficult to read, over-used it can create visual fatigue.
Surround people with too much yellow and the over-stimulation can leave a feeling of annoyance or aggression. As a primary colour, it can feel child-like.
White Colour Names & Shades
- Ice White
- Soft White
- Warm White
- Apple blossom
- Milk White
- Cloud White
White Colour Psychology
White represents purity and wholeness, innocence and peace. White represents cleanliness but can also appear sterile. White can also provide a blank slate, symbolising new beginnings.
White is often adopted as a holy colour. It can be illuminating and help us to focus but too much white can be blinding.
Brown Colour Names & Shades
- Cafe au Lait
- Light Taupe
Brown Colour Psychology
Brown, like green, is another colour steeped in the natural world. Earthy tones reminiscent of the solid ground beneath us evoke feelings of grounding, stability, strength, security and reliability.
Adversely the colour brown can feel serious, isolating and sad. It can drag our energy down and feel empty and stark, many more popular brown hues draw warmth and energy from red or orange.
Brown evokes a sense of honesty, stability and maturity but can at times come across as dull. In its down-to-earth simplicity, it can evoke a sense of sophistication.
Grey Colour Names & Shades
- Lizard Grey
Grey Colour Psychology
Grey represents neutrality and balance. It is solid and stable evoking a sense of calm but at its extreme can be dull and dreary - think grey winter skies. Grey can signal wisdom and intelligence and can even feel futuristic but can also come across cool and depressing.
Grey tends not to overpower other colours and is a popular choice for website backdrops - In fact, when designing a website you will generally work with a light and mid-grey neutral palette to compliment your main website colours.
Black Colour Names & Swatches
- Paynes Grey
- Pitch Black
Black Colour Psychology
Black absorbs all light in the colour spectrum, it is the colour of strength, power, formality, mystery and sophistication. It has been adopted as a colour of luxury and seduction. On the flip side, black can feel depressing and negative.
Black can also feel secretive and withholding. Pure black #000000 can be heavy on the eyes and black backgrounds can make it hard to read text. Often designs requiring black will use the darkest shade of the main colour rather than pure black.
Choosing the right brand colours
When it comes to choosing your brand colours, it's important to choose colours that work well together.
It's all very well choosing your colours based on colour psychology but you should also take into account your mission and vision, your business and industry, your competitors and most importantly, your customers.
If you're searching for colour palette inspiration try https://www.pinterest.com/bemoreyouonline/brand-colour-palettes-brand-colour-schemes/