How To: Pick a Color Scheme for a Business Postcard
When it comes to business, even color is an instrument at the service of your ideas.

Design Master

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If you have ever worked to promote a business using marketing literature, you probably know that coming up with a neat, professional, and interesting color combination is not exactly simple. Colors interact in all sorts of ways, and making the wrong choice can leave others with the wrong impression.

A successful campaign depends on a very delicate balance of elements. Since color plays such a huge role in the promotion a business, I’ll explore some methods to bring a great color scheme to your marketing campaign.

According to color psychology, each color conveys a specific feeling/mood and a precise message. Getting to know the psychological connotations behind colors will help you get in touch with your audience more efficiently.

Red is usually associated with action, passion, and excitement. Green is not only associated with growth and development, but also with nature and prosperity. Blue has a calming effect and inspires a sense of reliability or spirituality.

Yellow is often connected with energy, happiness, and positivity. Purple is austere and formal, while gray is considered neutral and modern. Black is usually associated with luxury and elegance, and white is the color of cleanliness, purity, and wholeness.

How to Pick a Color Scheme 1

Investigating color theory to create a color scheme will take your task a step further. Color theory is a complex subject, but its rules are based on definite formulas and principles. Some commonly used color theory schemes are:

  • Monochromatic – Uses variation in saturation and lightness of a single color.
  • Complementary – Uses two opposite colors on the color wheel (for example, yellow and purple).
  • Analogous – Uses colors that are adjacent on the color wheel, such as blue and green.
  • Triadic – Uses three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel (red, blue, and yellow).
  • Tetradic – Uses two complementary pairs; for example, yellow, purple, blue, and orange.
  • Split complementary – Uses a color and two adjacent colors to its complementary on the color wheel; for example, yellow, orange, and blue.

How To Pick a Color Scheme 2

Color picking applications are one of the quickest ways to compose a good-looking color scheme. They usually adopt color theory formulas, but even if their palette generation is automatic, you can modify schemes and individual values easily.

There are a bunch of great tools for creating palettes, both online and offline, such as Kuler, ColRD, Color Scheme Designer, Color Wizard, ColourSchemer (Mac only). Some of these color scheme creators have their own communities, where you can go for inspiration and can download palettes created by other users for free.

There are also several mobile applications to pick colors from a given scene and to organize them into personalized palettes. A few examples include Colorimeter, mColorWheel, Palettes.

How to Pick a Color Scheme 3

If you are making a postcard, you will likely have pictures you want to use. If every other approach seems too complicated, you can always start with your images. Either open the image in an image editor of your choice and manually select colors from it with the help of the eyedropper tool, or try online color pickers (see #3).

The online color apps I mentioned earlier often include an option to create a palette from a photo, which will compose a color scheme from any given photo automatically. Try Pictaculous, Color Palette Generator, Image to Color Palette. All you have to do is upload the image and the application will do the rest.

How to Pick a Color Scheme 4

Theories and generators can be helpful if you need some place to start, but in the end, your vision is what really matters. Go ahead and make changes and try different combinations until you find something you’re 100 percent happy with.

How to Pick a Color Scheme 5

Picking the right color scheme for your promotional postcard depends on many factors, but the main aspects you need to consider when creating a color palette are the message you want your postcard to communicate and the audience you want to approach. When it comes to business, even color is an instrument at the service of your ideas.

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
Kristi and the team order print jobs from every major printer to test quality, value, customer service, and more. See their reviews here:


  1. This was really helpful, thanks so much!

  2. black and grey is elegant???

    • Kristi Maddox (

      Surprisingly, different shades of blacks and greys can look very seamless and fluid, allowing the viewer to look over the piece without much distraction. However, if combined with too many other bright colors, or other conflicting elements, the piece gives off another emotion or can even be over bearing.