The brand I'm creating will be used on a youtube channel and on a dedicated website. Lets say that the brand has a 3 colors palette, green purple orange.
The main color is green, it is used for the logotype and thus it makes sense to use the color purple as its background. Purple will then be used on all backgrounds. But by doing so I'm afraid that it will be the secondary color that will be perceived by the audience as the brand's main color, for the simple reason that it will cover much more surface.

So what should the proper guidelines be ?
Should the logotype be in white on green background and green be used for most backgrounds, while purple and orange are used on minor elements ?
Or should the logotype be in green on white background, with backgrounds being either green or purple and orange for buttons ?

enter image description here enter image description here

Which book teaches the guidelines I'm seeking ?

Real life examples:
The RedBull brand has a red logotype but because the product is blue and silver we can hardly remember which is the main color of the brand. Coca-Cola on the other hand has a white logotype on red background. We remember red as the brand's color because white is not a color so its works as a negative/hollow.

I'm basing this reflexion on the fact that it is advised for brands to have a single color so has to strengthen their positioning.

I've added real life examples of green purple orange to prove the validity of this color scheme, although it's not the topic.

enter image description here

  • 4
    This is a much broader question than you may realize. Books on color theory will help (especially to avoid picking horrible combinations like green, purple, orange.) I doubt there's any book that can specifically tell you what to do with specific colors in specific instances. I think reaching websites of big brands would help - Burger King, McDonalds, Cheerios, Pepsi, Amazon, Coke, Kraft - I think you'll be surprised how few use full backgrounds and when they do, it's often a tint of any color. (FYI RedBull's website has essentially no color at all and relies on images for color.)
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 18:44
  • 5
    Please. Do not use the colors as a background. That looks like a webpage 30 years old. Only use some hints of color here and there.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 19:14
  • 2
    I don't think design problems are as universal as to write a book relating how to solve specific design issues based upon the specific artwork factors. But I could be wrong. As I see it, design is often not a mere procedure to follow and requires human interpretation of elements at the moment of inception - as opposed to "do what the book says to do". And triad or not, that color combo in the question is terrible. But if you feel it's "perfect' m'kay then. :) Different strokes I guess.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 21:25
  • 4
    Ultimately, I think you're looking to apply "scientific formulas" to design where "artistic intuition" is required. For example... your color combo may be a scientific triad... but artistic intuition should tell you there's no contrast in those three colors, they are all the same value and do not work well when stacked or under anything dark. And the poo-brown orange for buttons is exceptionally uninviting (and also does not work under black).
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 21:29
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    @WaterBearer You’ve added examples of three very different colours. The examples from nature are not relevant, because they’re not graphic design – they’re meant to attract insects, not humans. The Fanta, Rosemary and Railsconf logos work reasonably well because they use a dark purple combined with light green and bright orange used as accent colours on smaller units. Your scheme is dark purple, dark green and dark orange-brown all used as base colours on full-screen units. Very different colours, very different usage. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


It might not answer your question, because I do not have a specific title of a book to provide.

Just a couple of practical notes.

  1. Having a brand color does not necessarily mean that you need to only use that color, especially not in the background.

  2. It does not mean you can not use some other colors, specially achromatic colors: white, gray, and black.

You quoted some brands. Let's see what those brands do with the colors we relate to them on their websites.

Here it is RedBull, which we could assume its main color is red, because it is in the name itself, but if we see the F1 car, the main color is blue.* Let me address that later.

And Coca-cola, which we all relate to also red, although the product is normally black.

Do we see red as a background on the website? Nop. The websites are white. Both have only hints of red on a button and some details here and there.

enter image description here

Fanta is normally a product associated with children, so, it is possible that the usage of color is different.

I could assume that the main color of Fanta is orange. It is a soda that we relate to orange flavor and color. It is also on the logo.

enter image description here

Oops, some of those images have not orange. Does that mean that blue is the main color?

Those 3 designs are image-oriented. They do not try to explain in text anything about the products. In Fanta's case, the images are more like an ad that you could find in a local small store.

Talking about orange: Nickelodeon! Let's see how much orange they throw at the kids:

enter image description here

Exactly the doses of... one button.

  • Red bull and nick are using complementary colors as backgrounds. One for the F1 car and can, and the other on the website.

  1. The main purpose of a website, in theory, is to convey information to the reader, so the reader should be able to actually read.

  2. You can use shades of color. Do not think you need to use the same values of the logo.

Regarding some comments you made:

I'm afraid my question has more to do with design than color theory.

artistic intuition is nothing else than undefined scientific formula

Which sounds a bit contradictory. Color theory is what we have as some basis of "formula" But if you really explore it, it has so many variants that can not be used as a direct formula. And You are asking for a formula but discarding color theory? Probably not, but it sounded like it.

Design approach:

Clearly define, first of all, on the logo, which is the main color. Use it on clear things. Probably as a background on a banner with the slogan on it, on the action buttons on the webpage.

There are MANY ways to convey the main branding elements.

  • Position

  • Size

  • Amount

  • Hierarchy

  • Repetivnes

  • Contrast

  • Context

So, instead of only thinking on "Ammount of color in background" see if you can use some other ways to affirm your branding colors.

enter image description here

One main aspect of a scientific method is experimentation. Although I am abusing the word scientific here, the word you should explore is experimentation.

Is the amount of background color, confusing the viewer on the importance of the main color? or by contrast, it is "elevating" it?

enter image description here


One additional note about recognized brands.

The small usage of the color on the current websites does not mean they did not use a lot of red on other occasions, or that they are not using it in some other advertising. I am using them as an excuse to debunk that only the usage of them as a background is the only way to do it.

Also, brands have growth cycles. The usage of your colors might depend also on how recognizable already is.

  • 1
    Nice answer +1;)
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 15:40
  • Thank you for your attempt. I asked for a book because big brands are not safe examples in my opinion. Big brands make big mistakes. I mentioned the one RedBull did. Fanta's logo has been blue since 1998 but there was only one flavour and it was orange. Now they have x favours with different colours each but kept the same name. They could differentiate from competitors by the bottle shape like Orangina did. Coke did the same as Fanta, they added flavours, changed the colors but kept the name, so now people are confused at to what Coke really is. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 20:25
  • So with all those colors per brand, I would not bet on the outcome if customers were asked in a survey what color is each brand. I think at best they would be confused, at worst they could give secondary colors that happen to be the main color of competitors. Also, corporate websites rarely see any real customers because it is not where products are bought. Actual products and ads would be safer in my opinion. It's true thought that white grey and black are mostly used on pages. Exception with Nintendo and Barbies aimed at kids. I come from a market with very long sale pages with sections. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 20:32
  • More than just the background area, think of the brand colors as "consistent".
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 21:09

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