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Everything Brands Need to Know About the Metaverse

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Everything Brands Need to Know About the Metaverse


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet and social media helped us connect with our coworkers, friends, and loved ones during times of extreme isolation.

But, our web-based lifestyle wasn’t perfect. While you could see and talk to people, interactions still felt distant and impersonal. And, despite having every delivery app at our fingertips, we still missed going outside, exploring the world, and experiencing life to its fullest.

And, for a small — but growing — group of people, that’s where the metaverse came in.

Although metaverses are nothing new, we started hearing more buzz than ever about futuristic virtual reality worlds that could allegedly supplement or expand on our own. As more people began to dive deeper into online gaming, social media, and purchasing VR headsets and accessories, the opportunities of the metaverse gained even more intrigue.

Then, in late of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg shocked the world when he announced the change of his company’s name from Facebook to Meta, adding that it would represent a new evolution of the company’s offerings.

Soon after, Meta’s first metaverse, Horizon Worlds was opened up to anyone with an Oculus or Meta headset. Almost immediately, fans began to refer to this as “the metaverse.”

But, there’s more to the story of the metaverse, and a lot of things you’ll need to know before even asking yourself, “Is investing in a trendy VR world right for my brand?”

In this post, I’ll walk you through what “the metaverse” really is, how you can access all sorts of virtual worlds, and where the brand potential lies in this emerging space.

Does Meta own the Metaverse?

Because Facebook changed its name to Meta, and has a thriving virtual reality platform, you might think the company owns “the metaverse.” In reality –- and virtual reality –- Meta owns one of many metaverses. While Meta’s VR universe is called Meta Horizon Worlds, and is accessed through the company’s Meta VR headsets (formally titled Oculus), there are many other metaverses that early adopters have been using for years.

What happens in the Metaverse?

To explain what happens in the metaverse, we’ll dive into a few types of metaverses and explain what you or your brand can do in each. But, before we dive deeper, here are some definitions you’ll want to remember (and links to more context, courtesy of the HubSpot Blogs and our partners at The Hustle):

Metaverse Terms to Know

  • NFT: The much-buzzed-about non-fungible token is a finite or unique digital token, such as digital art, avatar clothing, or VR-based objects, that you can purchase ownership of or stake in. Deep in its blockchain-based coding, there’s a certificate saying that you own or have ownership in the item. (And, yes. There’s much more complexity here than a quick definition can explain.)
  • NFT Real-Estate: A non-fungible digital house or piece of land in the metaverse that can be invested in, sold, or even rented out. Buyers get a digital deed or certificate saying they own the real estate.
  • Blockchain: A digital ledger of transactions, certificates, and contracts.
  • Cryptocurrency: Digital money that you can invest in, sell, or use to purchase products online or in a metaverse. Each type of digital coinage has different values. Popular examples include Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin.
  • Open-source: Open to all users for editing and not usually controlled by a brand or single entity. Open-source metaverses can be founded by developers who market and do maintenance on the world, but might not have an obvious company owning them – or customer service when something goes wrong. However, they often allow much more freedom to the users.

Now that you have those quick definitions, let’s take a look at some of the most discussed metaverses out there.

3 Popular Metaverses (And What You Can Do in Each)

While there are many metaverses out there, and we’d love to talk about them all, I’ve focused this post around the three metaverses that are most buzzed about today.

And, because many metaverses have a lot of similar opportunities for brands, I’ll break down brand opportunities (and show you examples of them) in the following section.

Meta Horizon Worlds

Meta’s universe can be accessed by Meta headsets sold by the company (which were previously called Oculus headsets). While this universe can only be accessed by headsets at the moment, Mark Zuckerberg has already discussed trying to expand the experience to contact lenses and even holographic experiences in the far term. Although this metaverse is potentially the most well-known to late adopters and marketers, it is one of the newest major metaverses.

Once you enter Horizon Worlds, you can do almost anything that all earlier metaverses allowed users to do, including:

  • Creating your avatar or virtual likeness.
  • Talking to other people in the Meta Horizons world.
  • Playing games with other Meta Horizons users.
  • Asking a Meta support rep (also in the metaverse) questions.
  • Teleporting to different locations and experiences within the universe.
  • Purchase digital products, such as virtual clothing, from the Horizons Marketplace.
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Two key things that make Horizon Worlds different from other major metaverses we’ll discuss below are:

  1. That it’s centralized, which means it has a known owner who regulates and manages the platform. When you’re in Horizon Worlds, you agree to terms of use and must follow rules or you can be ejected. Meanwhile, other decentralized metaverses have minimal rules, management, and regulations since they usually have initial creators or developers, but no current or obvious owners. In fact, to ensure that users are behaving and learning how to use the Horizon Worlds space, virtual Meta staffers are usually present in each public space:
  2. You can’t buy land or monetize your brand in Horizon Worlds just yet. While Horizon Worlds does offer a general marketplace, there are no other clear ways to generate revenue on the platform. Meanwhile, on other metaverses that we’ll discuss below, one major goal of users is to buy, sell, or monetize virtual real-estate.

The Sandbox

The Sandbox is one of the oldest decentralized gaming metaverses. Created by gamers around the globe, the platform has gained interest from VR and NFT investors. Once you enter this metaverse, your character can buy and build on land with crypto called MANA. From there, you can sell your land, rent it out, meet people, make connections, and even get paid and buy more land via Sandbox jobs – like architect or landlord. Sandbox, which reminds me of an extreme LEGO universe, is pretty easy to access and create an account on when visiting its website.

Because of its age and credibility in the VR world space, Sandbox is home to many affluent early adopters who already own real estate there, including major gaming companies like Attari and the rapper Snoop Dogg. Additionally, because land plots and the number of SAND tokes that will be created in the game are considered “finite,” the price of the real estate and tokens in this metaverse have skyrocketed in recent years.

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Decentraland

One of the most popular metaverses that early adopters have explored and invested in is Decentraland. Created in Argentina by developers Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano, has been notable for its vast cities and millions of dollars in virtual land and NFT real estate. In fact, a simple Google search reveals that there are already a number of virtual real-estate agencies that specialize in selling NFT land in Decentraland and other metaverses.

As its title would hint, Decentraland is also decentralized, meaning that it has no specific owner or manager and anyone can create in this virtual open platform. Unlike Horizon Worlds, it can only be accessed by personal computers.

A lot of information to consider and unsure where to start? Below is a comparison chart to help. 

Metaverse Comparison Chart

Name

Meta Horizon Worlds

Decetraland

Sandbox

Years Active

Last than 1 year

5 years

10 years

Estimated Number Users

300K reported users (unknown daily users)

300K reported users (18,000 reported daily users)

1 million reported users (16,000 reported landowners)

Owner

Meta

Decentralized (no known owner)

Decentralized (no known owner)

Availability

US and Canada for 18+ users only

Unknown but likely global

Unknown but likely global

Equipment Needed to Access

A Meta or Oculus VR headset

Various VR Headsets or a personal computer

Various VR Headsets or a personal computer

Cost to Access

Accessed with an Oculus or Meta headset (prices vary)

Free to access, but users need a digital wallet with tokens called MANA and LAND to access most experiences.

Free to access, but users  need a digital wallet with tokens called SAND to access most experiences.

How to Get Around

Teleportation

You must purchase a virtual car or teleportation device

You must purchase a virtual car or teleportation device

Gaming Opportunities

Various free team and individual games

Users can play and create games that other users can play.

Users can play and create games that other users can play.

Social interactions with other users

Yes

Yes

Yes

NFT Art/Product Shopping

Not yet.

Yes

Yes

NFT Real Estate

Not yet.

Yes

Yes

Virtual Events

Yes

Yes

Yes

Virtual customer service available?

Yes

No

No

Crypto-currency and USD conversion (as of March 2022)

You can’t make purchases in Horizon Worlds.

MANA (1 MANA = $2.69 USD)

SAND (1 SAND = $3.14 USD)

Price of Land

You cannot purchase real estate in Horizon Worlds.

By the end of 2021, 1 plot of land cost over 4,000 MANA or $15,000 USD 

By the end of 2021, 1 plot of land cost more than 3,150 SAND or $9900 USD

5 Early Opportunities for Brands in the Metaverse [+Examples]

While each virtual world has slightly different experiences, environments, and audience targets associated with it, many of them host a handful of opportunities for brands that want to embrace emerging marketing strategies. Here are just a few ways brands can leverage some of the metaverses that exist today:

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1. Inbound Sales and Networking

Today, many marketers and sales reps alike find ourselves messaging, zooming, and emailing prospects to tell them about our product or service. And, rarely, we might go to a networking event or meeting where we talk to prospects face to face.

Now, imagine doing all of this – but digitally with avatars. In almost all metaverses, you can explore a place and talk to other users for free. This means that if you sell or market a B2C product, you could casually discuss the product in conversation, as you would with anyone else you’re networking with, and then tell users where they can learn more. While you still might not be able to send them to a branded experience, virtual shop, or have them click a link to your website just yet, you can still spread the word to multiple people on a more personal level than an email without leaving your seat.

If you work in the VR or metaverse space, you could also leverage sales in a more extreme way by selling NFT items, like art, real estate, or virtual cars. While it seems many virtual salespeople don’t record transactions and post them for the world to see, here’s a video of someone buying a car from a dealership salesman in a metaverse.

If you’re wondering, “Where could I go to ensure I’m talking to the right people?”, one opportunity is attending virtual events, which I’ll discuss next.

2. Virtual Events

While virtual events are still being developed for general businesses on Horizon Worlds, Decentraland, Sandbox, and other virtual worlds host many landowners that are will to rent out their virtual space for events or virtual parties. Similarly, some companies and entrepreneurs have also built their own lands with the goal of using them for events like NFT art shows, conferences, or meetups.

If you can afford to run, host, or even sponsor part of an event, you can gain crypto revenue or awareness from users who are interested in the topic, while also gaining awareness for your product or service.

For example, here’s a video of a TikTok user who attended an Afro Tech conference in a metaverse.

While INBOUND and HubSpot haven’t hosted a conference in a metaverse just yet, we too are embracing the possibility of virtual events by building out a similar platform for INBOUND 2022‘s hybrid attendees. If you’d like to get a virtual conference experience without committing to a metaverses digital currency or platform, consider registering for our event.

If you don’t have the budget for creating virtual events just yet, you can still consider attending, buying a ticket for one, or even speaking at one. While there, you can use it as a networking opportunity to get to know others in your industry or potential prospects who might even buy your product outside of VR.

3. Influencer and Community Marketing

In any metaverse, you could potentially talk to a handful of people at once, while casually mentioning your product or even wearing NFT clothes with your logo. You could also pay people who are familiar with their metaverse or selling in the metaverse to continue to spread the word about your brand or services for you.

But, influencer and community marketing might not just stop there. If you find that your metaverse has an audience of users that are interested in your product, service, or industry, you can work to bring them together – even if you can’t afford or figure out how to schedule a virtual event.

For example, you could host a meetup on your brand’s virtual land or in a free-to-access metaverse space for those who want to chat about topics rated to your industry or product. And, while you’re there, you could just open the door to casual conversation. Or, you could all join a fun game and bond, then get to know each other in a less active space.

Not only will you network, show credibility, and spread the word about your product, but you’ll build a group of people that are interested in your industry, similar topics, or your brand.

4. Owning Branded Locations, Games, Avatar Fashion, and/or Shops

In many metaverses, including Decentraland and the Sandbox, brands with a solid budget can buy and brand real estate, such as art galleries or stores where you can purchase NFT products. While Meta Horizon Worlds doesn’t allow this opportunity yet, it will no doubt be an expanded feature eventually, but might be more structured than decentralized worlds that have no owners or rules.

One example that a brand that embraced the metaverse, VR, and NFTs to drive both awareness and crypto revenue was Gucci who sponsored a “Gucci Garden” on the platform Roblox. When entering the Gucci Garden, a VR avatar could walk up to a wall of Gucci products, select clothing, accessories, or bags they wanted to buy, and purchase them as an NFT.

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Although Roblox falls more into a gaming category rather than a full metaverse, something similar could be done in Decentraland, Sandbox, or even Horizon Worlds (if brands gain more advertorial opportunities in the future.)

Another more experiential example is the prospect of Welmart stores in Meta Horizon Worlds. In 2021, Walmart released a demonstration of how they envisioned a metaverse store that helps people in VR order physical Walmart products that would then be shipped to their actual home addresses:

Although Horizon Worlds is just exploring how to monetize experiences for businesses, Decentraland and Sandbox, among other metaverses, have had digital shops (primarily for buying NFTs), car and teleportation device dealerships, art galleries, and paid brand experience locations for years.

5. Advertising on or Sponsoring Metaverse Content

While this might be more challenging and a tad riskier in decentralized metaverses, brands can provide money to creators, events, games, experiences, shops, and galleries to get their products, logos, or NFTs featured or mentioned.

One way to get started could be by researching NFT land owners with a history of advertising, which can be done on the web, as well as in VR. One business I came across while doing research for this piece was NFT Plazas. The brand claims to own NFT real-estate and plazas where many avatars spend time and will project ads, QR codes, or special digital experiences on their buildings or plaza signs.

Here’s a reel that highlights some of its work in Decentraland:

While this is a great way to spread the word about your brand if you don’t have the means to build your own virtual land, you’ll ideally want to make sure you know who the creators are in the real, non-virtual world, ensure you trust them, look out for scams, and use easy-to-understand paper trails or contracts whenever you can.

Remember, when you’re in a decentralized world, there won’t always be a customer service rep or legal entity to reach out to if you provide coinage to avatars that can’t be found later.

Should you invest in the metaverse?

Today, metaverse audiences are still growing, there’s still a learning curve for users, and some brands and audiences won’t be able to afford virtual world investments in the near future.

But, it’s important to remember that the metaverse is getting both the same hype and skepticism as social media did when MySpace and Facebook began to launch. In a world where technology is quickly evolving and improving, what’s not accessible to all today will be used by most people in the future.

If you’re an enterprise brand that can afford to take risks and explore emerging virtual worlds, it might be worth considering some of the marketing strategies above, or even creating a task force to determine if the metaverse is a worthy investment for you.

For other brands, it might be a while before you really need to start considering metaverse opportunities. But, that doesn’t mean you should wipe it from your emerging trend radar completely. In the coming year, a few things could really change the game for brands in the VR space, including:

  • New Meta Horizon Worlds Features. Everytime Meta has launched or purchased a platform, its next major step has been figuring out how to monetize the content and build brand tools for it. Horizon Worlds could be no different. And, because Meta platforms have been a trusted source for ad revenue and brands for years, expect to see brands flocking here when and if monetization tools are launched.
  • Metaverse competition: Like social media platforms, there are also new metaverses popping up all the time, and their creators (even if we don’t know them) all want them to be superior to pull in more users. This could create metaverse competition and these worlds could see new features aimed to pull in more users and more monetization opportunities for all sorts of brands. Similarly, large companies that specialize in VR might opt out of using decentralized worlds and might follow-suit of Meta by developing their own worlds.
  • More accessible technology: Currently, VR users must have an incredibly strong internet connection and a computer, while Horizon Worlds users must have an Oculus or Meta headset (starting at $300). While most people around the globe can access the internet, millions still struggle to access high speeds that would allow for VR. But, as VR gains more interest and we see the launch of technology like 5G and Web3 in many global regions, these experiences could require less machinery and lower finances to access.

Ultimately, the metaverse is vast, complex, and growing. And although we’ll do our best to keep you up to date, you’ll need to do some digging and understand your persona to know if investing time, money, or crypto in it is right for your brand.

To keep up with the latest emerging trends and tips, subscribe to daily emails from the HubSpot Blog for industry-specific advice, or The Hustle for general news and trends.

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MARKETING

A Complete Guide to Color Wheels & Color Schemes

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A Complete Guide to Color Wheels & Color Schemes

While text-based content is always important when seeking answers to a question, creating visuals such as infographics, charts, graphs, animated GIFs, and other shareable images can do wonders for catching your readers’ attention and enhancing your article or report. Knowing color theory and design can help you make content stand out.

I know what you might be thinking: “I don’t know how to design awesome visuals. I’m not creative.” Neither am I, yet I found a strength in data visualization at HubSpot, where I’ve spent most of my days creating infographics and other visuals for blog posts.

Download Now: 150+ Content Creation Templates [Free Kit]

Consider this your introductory course to color theory, types of color schemes, and the use of palettes. We’ll be covering the following topics:

What is color theory?

Color theory is the basis for the primary rules and guidelines that surround color and its use in creating aesthetically pleasing visuals. By understanding color theory basics, you can begin to parse the logical structure of color for yourself to create and use color palettes more strategically. The result means evoking a particular emotion, vibe, or aesthetic.

While there are many tools out there to help even the most inartistic of us to create compelling visuals, graphic design tasks require a little more background knowledge on design principles.

Take selecting the right color combination, for instance. It’s something that might seem easy at first but when you’re staring down a color wheel, you’re going to wish you had some information on what you’re looking at. In fact, brands of all sizes use color psychology to learn how color influences decision-making and affects design.

Understanding how colors work together, the impact they can have on mood and emotion, and how they change the look and feel of your website is critical to help you stand out from the crowd — for the right reasons.

From effective CTAs to sales conversions and marketing efforts, the right color choice can highlight specific sections of your website, make it easier for users to navigate, or give them a sense of familiarity from the first moment they click through.

But it’s not enough to simply select colors and hope for the best — from color theory to moods and schemes, finding the right HTML color codes, and identifying web-accessible colors for products and websites, the more you know about using color, the better your chances are for success.

Read on for our designer’s guide to color theory, color wheels, and color schemes for your site.

Color Theory 101

Let’s first go back to high school art class to discuss the basics of color.

Remember hearing about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors? They’re pretty important if you want to understand, well, everything else about color.

Circular color theory model with labels for primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors

Primary Colors

Primary colors are those you can’t create by combining two or more other colors together. They’re a lot like prime numbers, which can’t be created by multiplying two other numbers together.

There are three primary colors:

Think of primary colors as your parent colors, anchoring your design in a general color scheme. Any one or combination of these colors can give your brand guardrails when you move to explore other shades, tones, and tints (we’ll talk about those in just a minute).

When designing or even painting with primary colors, don’t feel restricted to just the three primary colors listed above. Orange isn’t a primary color, for example, but brands can certainly use orange as their dominant color (as we at HubSpot know this quite well).

Knowing which primary colors create orange is your ticket to identifying colors that might go well with orange — given the right shade, tone, or tint. This brings us to our next type of color …

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are the colors that are formed by combining any two of the three primary colors listed above. Check out the color theory model above — see how each secondary color is supported by two of the three primary colors?

There are three secondary colors: orange, purple, and green. You can create each one using two of the three primary colors. Here are the general rules of secondary color creation:

  • Red + Yellow = Orange
  • Blue + Red = Purple
  • Yellow + Blue = Green

Keep in mind that the color mixtures above only work if you use the purest form of each primary color. This pure form is known as a color’s hue, and you’ll see how these hues compare to the variants underneath each color in the color wheel below.

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are created when you mix a primary color with a secondary color.

From here, color gets a little more complicated, and if you want to learn how the experts choose color in their design, you’ve got to first understand all the other components of color.

The most important component of tertiary colors is that not every primary color can match with a secondary color to create a tertiary color. For example, red can’t mix in harmony with green, and blue can’t mix in harmony with orange — both mixtures would result in a slightly brown color (unless of course, that’s what you’re looking for).

Instead, tertiary colors are created when a primary color mixes with a secondary color that comes next to it on the color wheel below. There are six tertiary colors that fit this requirement:

  • Red + Purple = Red-Purple (magenta)
  • Red + Orange = Red-Orange (vermillion)
  • Blue + Purple = Blue-Purple (violet)
  • Blue + Green = Blue-Green (teal)
  • Yellow + Orange = Yellow-Orange (amber)
  • Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green (chartreuse)

The Color Theory Wheel

Okay, great. So now you know what the “main” colors are, but you and I both know that choosing color combinations, especially on a computer, involves a much wider range than 12 basic colors.

This is the impetus behind the color wheel, a circle graph that charts each primary, secondary, and tertiary color — as well as their respective hues, tints, tones, and shades. Visualizing colors in this way helps you choose color schemes by showing you how each color relates to the color that comes next to it on a rainbow color scale. (As you probably know, the colors of a rainbow, in order, are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.)

Color theory wheel with labels for each color's hue, tint, tone, and shade

When choosing colors for a color scheme, the color wheel gives you opportunities to create brighter, lighter, softer, and darker colors by mixing white, black, and gray with the original colors. These mixes create the color variants described below:

Hue

Hue is pretty much synonymous with what we actually mean when we said the word “color.” All of the primary and secondary colors, for instance, are “hues.”

Hues are important to remember when combining two primary colors to create a secondary color. If you don’t use the hues of the two primary colors you’re mixing together, you won’t generate the hue of the secondary color. This is because a hue has the fewest other colors inside it. By mixing two primary colors that carry other tints, tones, and shades inside them, you’re technically adding more than two colors to the mixture — making your final color dependent on the compatibility of more than two colors.

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If you were to mix the hues of red and blue together, for instance, you’d get purple, right? But mix a tint of red with the hue of blue, and you’ll get a slightly tinted purple in return.

Shade

You may recognize the term “shade” because it’s used quite often to refer to light and dark versions of the same hue. But actually, a shade is technically the color that you get when you add black to any given hue. The various “shades” just refer to how much black you’re adding.

Tint

A tint is the opposite of a shade, but people don’t often distinguish between a color’s shade and a color’s tint. You get a different tint when you add white to a color. So, a color can have a range of both shades and tints.

Tone (or Saturation)

You can also add both white and black to a color to create a tone. Tone and saturation essentially mean the same thing, but most people will use saturation if they’re talking about colors being created for digital images. Tone will be used more often for painting.

With the basics covered, let’s dive into something a little more complicated — like additive and subtractive color theory.

Additive & Subtractive Color Theory

If you’ve ever played around with color on any computer program, you’ve probably seen a module that listed RGB or CMYK colors with some numbers next to the letters.

Ever wondered what those letters mean?

CMYK

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black). Those also happen to be the colors listed on your ink cartridges for your printer. That’s no coincidence.

CMYK is the subtractive color model. It’s called that because you have to subtract colors to get to white. That means the opposite is true — the more colors you add, the closer you get to black. Confusing, right?

Subtractive color diagram with CMYK in the center

Think about printing on a piece of paper. When you first put a sheet in the printer, you’re typically printing on a white piece of paper. By adding color, you’re blocking the white wavelengths from getting through.

Then, let’s say you were to put that printed piece of paper back into the printer, and print something on it again. You’ll notice the areas that have been printed on twice will have colors closer to black.

I find it easier to think about CMYK in terms of its corresponding numbers. CMYK works on a scale of 0 to 100. If C=100, M=100, Y=100, and K=100, you end up with black. But, if all four colors equal 0, you end up with true white.

RGB

RGB color models, on the other hand, are designed for electronic displays, including computers.

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue, and is based on the additive color model of light waves. This means, the more color you add, the closer you get to white. For computers, RGB is created using scales from 0 to 255. So, black would be R=0, G=0, and B=0. White would be R=255, G=255, and B=255.

Additive color model with RGB in the center

When you’re creating color on a computer, your color module will usually list both RGB and CMYK numbers. In practice, you can use either one to find colors, and the other color model will adjust accordingly.

However, many web programs will only give you the RGB values or a HEX code (the code assigned to color for CSS and HTML). So, if you’re designing digital images or for web design, RGB is probably your best bet for choosing colors.

You can always convert the design to CMYK and make adjustments should you ever need it for printed materials.

The Meaning of Color

Along with varying visual impact, different colors also carry different emotional symbolism.

  • Red — typically associated with power, passion, or energy, and can help encourage action on your site
  • Orange — joy and enthusiasm, making it a good choice for positive messaging
  • Yellow — happiness and intellect, but be wary of overuse
  • Green — often connected to growth or ambition, green can help give the sense that your brand is on the rise
  • Blue — tranquility and confidence, depending on the shade — lighter shades provide a sense of peace, darker colors are more confident
  • Purple — luxury or creativity, especially when used deliberately and sparingly on your site
  • Black — power and mystery, and using this color can help create necessary negative space
  • White — safety and innocence, making it a great choice to help streamline your site

Worth noting? Different audiences may perceive colors differently. The meanings listed above are common for North American audiences, but if your brand moves into other parts of the world, it’s a good idea to research how users will perceive particular colors. For example, while red typically symbolizes passion or power in the United States, it’s considered a color of mourning in South Africa.

While it’s possible to create your website using a combination of every color under the rainbow, chances are the final product won’t look great. Thankfully, color experts and designers have identified seven common color schemes to help jumpstart your creative process.

Let’s examine each type of color scheme in more detail.

1. Monochromatic

Monochromatic color schemes use a single color with varying shades and tints to produce a consistent look and feel. Although it lacks color contrast, it often ends up looking very clean and polished. It also allows you to easily change the darkness and lightness of your colors.

Color wheel with two monochromatic colors plotted along the red hue

Monochromatic color schemes are often used for charts and graphs when creating high contrast isn’t necessary.

Check out all the monochromatic colors that fall under the red hue, a primary color.

Red color scheme example with red hue, tint, tone, and shade

2. Analogous

Analogous color schemes are formed by pairing one main color with the two colors directly next to it on the color wheel. You can also add two additional colors (which are found next to the two outside colors) if you want to use a five-color scheme instead of just three colors.

Color wheel with five analogous colors plotted between blue and yellow

Analogous structures do not create themes with high contrasting colors, so they’re typically used to create a softer, less contrasting design. For example, you could use an analogous structure to create a color scheme with autumn or spring colors.

This color scheme is great for creating warmer (red, oranges, and yellows) or cooler (purples, blues, and greens) color palettes like the one below.

Types of color schemes: Analogous color scheme pallette

Analogous schemes are often used to design images rather than infographics or bar charts as all of the elements blend together nicely.

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3. Complementary

You may have guessed it, but a complementary color scheme is based on the use of two colors directly across from each other on the color wheel and relevant tints of those colors.

color wheel showing complementary colors on opposite sides of the wheel

The complementary color scheme provides the greatest amount of color contrast. Because of this, you should be careful about how you use the complementary colors in a scheme.

It’s best to use one color predominantly and use the second color as accents in your design. The complementary color scheme is also great for charts and graphs. High contrast helps you highlight important points and takeaways.

complementary color sceme example with oranges and blues

4. Split Complementary

A split complementary scheme includes one dominant color and the two colors directly adjacent to the dominant color’s complement. This creates a more nuanced color palette than a complementary color scheme while still retaining the benefits of contrasting colors.

color wheel with split complementary color scheme values plotted

The split complementary color scheme can be difficult to balance because unlike analogous or monochromatic color schemes, the colors used all provide contrast (similar to the complementary scheme).

The positive and negative aspect of the split complementary color model is that you can use any two colors in the scheme and get great contrast … but that also means it can also be tricky to find the right balance between the colors. As a result, you may end up playing around with this one a bit more to find the right combination of contrast.

split complementary color scheme example with pale blue, peach, blue, and red

5. Triadic

Triadic color schemes offer high contrasting color schemes while retaining the same tone. Triadic color schemes are created by choosing three colors that are equally placed in lines around the color wheel.

Color wheel with three triadic colors plotted between purple, green, and orange

Triad color schemes are useful for creating high contrast between each color in a design, but they can also seem overpowering if all of your colors are chosen on the same point in a line around the color wheel.

To subdue some of your colors in a triadic scheme, you can choose one dominant color and use the others sparingly, or simply subdue the other two colors by choosing a softer tint.

The triadic color scheme looks great in graphics like bar or pie charts because it offers the contrast you need to create comparisons.

Color scheme example with purple, green, and orange triadic colors

6. Square

The square color scheme uses four colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel to create a square or diamond shape. While this evenly-spaced color scheme provides substantial contrast to your design, it’s a good idea to select one dominant color rather than trying to balance all four.

Square color scheme

Image Source

Square color schemes are great for creating interest across your web designs. Not sure where to start? Pick your favorite color and work from there to see if this scheme suits your brand or website. It’s also a good idea to try square schemes against both black and white backgrounds to find the best fit.

Types of color schemes: Capital Square Color PaletteImage Source

7. Rectangle

Also called the tetradic color scheme, the rectangle approach is similar to its square counterpart but offers a more subtle approach to color selection.

Rectangle color Schme

Image Source

As you can see in the diagram above, while the blue and red shades are quite bold, the green and orange on the other side of the rectangle are more muted, in turn helping the bolder shades stand out.

tetradic Color Palette

Image Source

No matter which color scheme you choose, keep in mind what your graphic needs. If you need to create contrast, then choose a color scheme that gives you that. On the other hand, if you just need to find the best “versions” of certain colors, then play around with the monochromatic color scheme to find the perfect shades and tints.

Remember, if you build a color scheme with five colors, that doesn’t mean you have to use all five. Sometimes just choosing two colors from a color scheme looks much better than cramming all five colors together in one graphic.

Examples of Color Schemes

Now that you are familiar with color scheme types, let’s take a look at some in the wild.

1. Canva

Type: Monochromatic

example of color scheme: MonochromeImage Source

The use of blues and purples really make this monochromatic blueberry-inspired template stand out. Each shade builds on the next and provides ample contrast despite remaining within the same color family.

2. Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Type: Triadic

example of color scheme: TriadicImage Source

As we mentioned earlier, nature is a great way to get inspiration for your color palette. Why? Because mother nature already has it figured out. Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism took advantage of these triadic shades to showcase the region’s natural beauty.

3. Daye

Type: Analogous

example of color scheme: Analogous

Image Source

Eco-friendly Women’s health company Your Daye uses a blend of pastels and earthy tones for its analogous color scheme. The effect is soothing and pleasing to the eye.

1. Leverage natural inspiration.

Once your site operations are solid, it’s time to start selecting colors.

Not sure what looks good? Take a look outside. Nature is the best example of colors that complement each other — from the green stems and bright blooms of flowering plants to azure skies and white clouds, you can’t go wrong pulling context from natural colors and combinations.

2. Set a mood for your color scheme.

With a few color choices in mind, consider the mood you want your color scheme to set. If passion and energy are your priorities, lean more toward red or brighter yellows. If you’re looking to create a feeling of peace or tranquility, trend toward lighter blues and greens.

It’s also worth thinking negatively. This is because negative space — in either black or white — can help keep your design from feeling too cluttered with color.

3. Consider color context.

It’s also worth considering how colors are perceived in contrast.

In the image below, the middle of each of the circles is the same size, shape, and color. The only thing that changes is the background color.

Yet, the middle circles appear softer or brighter depending on the contrasting color behind it. You may even notice movement or depth changes just based on one color change.

Color Context with backgrounds

This is because the way in which we use two colors together changes how we perceive it. So, when you’re choosing colors for your graphic designs, think about how much contrast you want throughout the design.

For instance, if you were creating a simple bar chart, would you want a dark background with dark bars? Probably not. You’d most likely want to create a contrast between your bars and the background itself since you want your viewers to focus on the bars, not the background.

4. Refer to your color wheel.

Next, consider your color wheel and the schemes mentioned above. Select a few different color combinations using schemes such as monochrome, complementary, and triad to see what stands out.

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Here, the goal isn’t to find exactly the right colors on the first try and create the perfect design, but rather to get a sense of which scheme naturally resonates with your personal perception and the look of your site.

You may also find that schemes you select that look good in theory don’t work with your site design. This is part of the process — trial and error will help you find the color palette that both highlights your content and improves the user experience.

5. Draft multiple designs.

Draft and apply multiple color designs to your website and see which one(s) stand out. Then, take a step back, wait a few days and check again to see if your favorites have changed.

Here’s why: While many designers go in with a vision of what they want to see and what looks good, the finished product often differs on digital screens that physical color wheels — what seemed like a perfect complement or an ideal color pop may end up looking drab or dated.

Don’t be afraid to draft, review, draft again and throw out what doesn’t work — color, like website creation, is a constantly-evolving art form.

How to Use Color Palettes

While color schemes provide a framework for working with different colors, you’ll still need to use a color palette — the colors you will select to use for your project. If you’re stumped about what colors to use, consider using a palette generator to get your creativity flowing.

Here are some best practices to make the most out of your color palette:

1. Work in grayscale.

This may sound counter-intuitive but starting with black and white can help you see exactly how much contrast exists in your design. Before getting started with color, it’s important to lay out all the elements like text, CTAs, illustrations, photos, and any other design features. The way your design looks in grayscale will determine how well it looks in color. Without enough light and dark contrast, your design will be hard to view, leaving your audience with a less than satisfactory user experience. Low contrast designs also make them inaccessible for those with a vision impairment.

2. Use the 60-30-10 rule.

Often used in home design, the 60-30-10 rule is also useful for website or app design.<

  • 60%: primary or main color
  • 30%: secondary colors
  • 10%: accent colors

While you’re certainly not limited to using just three colors, this framework will provide balance and ensure your colors work together seamlessly.

3. Experiment with your palette.

Once you’ve made your color selection, experiment to discover which work better together. Consider how copy or type looks on top of your designated main color (60% is typically used as the background color).

Try not to use your main colors for buttons since you’re already using it everywhere else. Consider one of your accent colors instead.

4. Get feedback or conduct A/B testing.

So you’ve finished your draft. Now it’s time to test it. Before sending your design to market, you’ll want to test how users interact with it. What may look good to you, may be difficult to read for others. Some things to consider when asking for feedback:

  • Are the CTAs generating attention?
  • Are the colors you chose distracting?
  • Is there enough color contrast?
  • Is the copy legible?

Getting another set of eyes on your design will help you spot errors or inconsistencies you may have missed in the creation process. Take their feedback in stride and make adjustments where needed.

Put simply? Practice makes perfect. The more you play with color and practice design, the better you get. No one creates their masterpiece the first time around.

Color Tools

There’s been a lot of theory and practical information for actually understanding which colors go best together and why. But when it comes down to the actual task of choosing colors while you’re designing, it’s always a great idea to have tools to help you actually do the work quickly and easily.

Luckily, there are a number of tools to help you find and choose colors for your designs.

Adobe Color

One of my favorite color tools to use while I’m designing anything — whether it’s an infographic or just a pie chart — is Adobe Color (previously Adobe Kuler).

This free online tool allows you to quickly build color schemes based on the color structures that were explained earlier in this post. Once you’ve chosen the colors in the scheme you’d like, you can copy and paste the HEX or RGB codes into whatever program you’re using.

It also features hundreds of premade color schemes for you to explore and use in your own designs. If you’re an Adobe user, you can easily save your themes to your account.

Color wheel on dashboard of Adobe Color

Illustrator Color Guide

I spend a lot of time in Adobe Illustrator, and one of my most-used features is the color guide. The color guide allows you to choose one color, and it will automatically generate a five-color scheme for you. It will also give you a range of tints and shades for each color in the scheme.

If you switch your main color, the color guide will switch the corresponding colors in that scheme. So if you’ve chosen a complementary color scheme with the main color of blue, once you switch your main color to red, the complementary color will also switch from orange to green.

Like Adobe Color, the color guide has a number of preset modes to choose the kind of color scheme you want. This helps you pick the right color scheme style within the program you’re already using.

After you’ve created the color scheme that you want, you can save that scheme in the “Color Themes” module for you to use throughout your project or in the future.

Color options on Illustrator Color Guide tool

Preset Color Guides

If you’re not an Adobe user, you’ve probably used Microsoft Office products at least once. All of the Office products have preset colors that you can use and play around with to create color schemes. PowerPoint also has a number of color scheme presets that you can use to draw inspiration for your designs.

Where the color schemes are located in PowerPoint will depend on which version you use, but once you find the color “themes” of your document, you can open up the preferences and locate the RGB and HEX codes for the colors used.

You can then copy and paste those codes to be used in whatever program you’re using to do your design work.

Color swatches and meters in PowerPoint

Finding the Right Color Scheme

There’s a lot of theory in this post, I know. But when it comes to choosing colors, understanding the theory behind color can do wonders for how you actually use color. This can make creating branded visuals easy, especially when using design templates where you can customize colors.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

 

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