Smart Nonprofit Branding with a Color Palette

Think of the red in Coca Cola, or the orange in Home Depot, or the blue in Facebook. These colors represent the brand of those organizations as much as the logos and names themselves. Choosing, and more importantly using, a standard set of colors helps reinforce the brand your nonprofit and help tell the story of who you are without using words.

Working with a purchased color palette

If you purchased a style guide, like we recommend, then your standard colors have already been chosen for you. Your job then becomes to make sure you use one or multiple colors from your guide in every piece of collateral that you produce, whether it’s on the web or in print. The combinations can vary, and it may take a bit of experimentation to figure out which combinations work best in each medium, but keeping the consistency and repetition of your colors as a through line will help develop a strong brand for your nonprofit.

Technical details of working with standard colors

Working with standard colors requires a bit of technical knowledge about how colors are defined in software applications and online. There are two main ways that colors are defined: a hex code and an RGB array. A hex code is a set of six numbers and letters that define everything about the color, usually looking something like this #ff6d4a ( this is our standard Tiny Opera House orange ). They can also be defined by an RGB array, which are numbers that indicate the proportions of red, green, and blue present in a color. They typically look like this R 255 G 109 B 74 ( this is the RGB for Tiny Opera House orange ). To work with a standard color, you’ll need to know either the hex or RGB code and enter that code into office apps on your computer and in online tools for your website and email. The style guide will define the colors, but if you forget or need a reminder, you can use the magical medicine dropper tool available in most graphic programs. It looks like this, well like a medicine dropper or an eye dropper. To find the color code for any color on your computer screen, open a graphics tool ( Paint in Microsoft Office works, as well as Preview on iWork, or you can use the online photo editor reference below ), find the tool that looks like a medicine dropper, and click on any color in an image. It will sample that color, and then you can click on the color swatch ( or sometimes on ‘edit color’ ) to find the hex and RGB code for that color. Then you can load that color into whatever collateral piece you’re working on. Easy, right?

Augmenting your color palette

Sometimes you need a slightly different variation of your standard colors. Maybe a standard color is too dark to be used the way you’d like, or maybe your color palette is only soft colors and you need something strong as an accent color. For this, you can use an online color scheme generator to find new colors that work with the ones you have already. Use the hex code for one of your main colors and load it into the color scheme generator, and it will give you a ton of new options that will blend with the colors you already have. You can even use this as a way to build a complete color palette from a single color.

Resources

fiverr.com – online marketplace to connect with designers and a variety of other freelancers for project-based work

Upwork.com – an alternative to fiverr

Logojoy – A website that uses an algorithm to create a logo based on a few user inputs