Perfecting your campaign colors (Part 2)


If you’re a living, breathing human – you’ve seen a color wheel. (Even if the last time you actually paid attention to one was when you were helping your first-grader with their art homework).

This means you’ve probably heard of the three primary colors being red, blue and yellow. You’ve probably also picked up that secondary colors are purple, orange and green. If you didn’t know – well, now you do. Understanding color dominance and blending is essential to understanding the arrangement of colors on the color wheel – which means it is essential to building out your campaign color palette.

Primary colors are the pure colors of red, yellow and blue

Secondary colors are a mixture of two primary colors to create orange, green and purple

Tertiary colors are a mixture of a primary color and an adjacent secondary color



Now that we know how to categorize colors, we can learn how to take advantage of the relationships they share with one another. There are six, basic relationships that colors can develop between each other. When you choose your campaign and branding colors, relying on any of these six relationships will help you to determine what the best secondary color or colors will be for your campaign to either highlight or contrast with your hero color:

Monochromatic color use is great if you’re boring and just like one color. Never fear if this sounds like you – you can go ahead and stick with different shades and tints of your hero color and still use a monochromatic scheme. Note: a monochromatic color is also incredible branding if you’re famous enough to be known by one color. Think: Coca-Cola and their red-and-white ads, Starbucks and their green logo, etc. They all started with complex logos and branding and worked their way backwards as their brands became more identifiable.

Complementary colors are best if you want to stick with the basics of color theory, choosing the opposite color on the wheel will give you a nice complementary color to work with.

Triad colors are the picture of perfection – most brands rely on a triad of colors to maximize the effectiveness of their message because they can use a variety of colors to conjure whatever emotion they need to count on at that time. Regardless of how happy your brand is, tapping into emotions is the heart of what you are doing – and branding your campaign with more color options will allow you to tap into a wider variety of emotions at any given moment.

Analogous colors are another great way to stick to one color theme – if you’re running a campaign to promote recycling, for example, and want to stick with shades similar to green – while also providing more colors to work with brightening your designs.

Split colors are my personal favorite. The reasons and justifications for using a split complementary color scheme are the same as the triad color scheme, but using complementaries of your hero color is something that can help your triad color scheme stand out from John Doe’s color scheme. This is especially useful in a political campaign – where everybody and their brother uses red, blue, green or yellow. (You know I’m right.) Be a little crazy – stand out from the crowd! Pick a bold primary color just like everybody else, but spice up your campaign and make it stand out by selecting two colors that are adjacent to the complimentary of your hero color for your extra frills.

Tetradic colors are two sets of complimentary colors – which is a great alternative to bring more life into your two-color brand. This is another way to stick with the two colors you want to use – usually red and blue in a political campaign – but to add a little extra flair to help your designs stand out from the crowd.



Choosing you supporting colors will depend on your hero color. Once your hero color is defined, you want to decide what color combination from step #6 to use – and then it is as easy as plugging your hero color into a generator to find the perfect complementary match.

Let me repeat this step because it is one of the most important: use a generator to find the perfect match for your supporting colors.

Once again, two great resources for finding color complements, shades and everything in between are: and

Now, consider all of the steps above and choose your supporting colors – and record what you choose. Create your own style guide with the 6-digit hexadecimal codes, the RGB and CMYK colors. Write it all down in a word document or have your designer create you a style guide – whatever you do, keep track of this information so that your brand, your campaign and your image stays consistent.

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