Elevate Your Design With Purple Color Palettes

Posted on January 6, 2023 | Updated on January 6, 2023

The color purple is often associated with luxury, mystery, imagination, spirituality, and power. For instance, purple is woven into historic fabrics found in modern-day Lebanon, as depicted in ancient writings from early 1200 B.C.

Often used in regal attire, the “Tyrian purple” derived from a costly and painstakingly laborious process of extracting snail mucus — purple-dyed clothing only royals and the elite could afford. 

Other people associate purple with the Divine and supernatural powers, while the United States issues the Purple Heart to military service members, representing bravery and courage. In the LGBTQ flag, purple represents the non-binary community and is also a part of the bisexuality flag. 

Designers have thousands of shades to choose from when developing purple color palettes. Lavender, plum, mulberry, pomegranate, royal purple, and lilac are only a few tones that can elevate their designs. 

However, as popular as the color is, professionals must use purple carefully to produce a positive outcome. This guide aims to inform design decisions for incorporating purple color palettes into various constructs. From how to create different purple shades to the color’s psychological effects on consumers, designers can deliver iconic compositions everyone recognizes.

What Colors Make Purple?

Every elementary school kid learned that red and blue make purple. If you look at the traditional color wheel, purple sits between the two primary colors.

However, coming up with purple is a little more in-depth when considering the color spectrum. For instance, purple and violet are parallel on the spectrum, confusing many as to whether they’re one and the same.

While purple is a cross between red and blue, violet appears in the shortest wavelengths of the visible light spectrum — the only electromagnetic wavelength visible to the human eye.

Different countries have varying definitions of purple depending on where you are on the map. In the United States, purple is regarded as having a blue undertone. Elsewhere, people consider reddish variations to be true purple. 

Of course, it’s hard to determine who’s right since purple color palettes range from red-purple to blue-purple, according to how much of each primary shade is mixed in. Naturally, purple with a higher red composition will have a redder tone, whereas a blueish-purple might lean more toward violet.

The Psychology of Purple

Most people wouldn’t choose purple as their favorite color. However, numerous studies have shown that the majority of people have a preference for blue.

Why blue? Because researchers believe that our life experiences influence how we interpret color. Different shades of blue are found in nature, from blueish-teal ocean waves to clear, baby-blue skies. As adults hold onto happy childhood memories spent outdoors, their love for blue deepens.

Conversely, red usually denotes negative emotions, such as anger or danger. In practice, humans have learned to associate red with stop signs, traffic lights, fire alarms, and red pens to correct mistakes. Red isn’t entirely antagonistic, though — it’s also associated with love, romance, strength, and power.

Purple falls somewhere between the two primary colors’ psychological meanings. For instance, its blue undertones can inspire, uplift, and calm the mind, similarly to blue. Some people describe blue as healing or soothing. Studies even suggest that blue light exposure reduces one’s blood pressure and heart rate by increasing circulation throughout the body. 

Others might agree that purple awakens their artistic abilities and intuition, allowing them to find meaning and joy in their lives.

Brands can use purple color palettes to convey a specific emotional reaction from consumers. However, how they utilize purple shades significantly impacts their business’s success.

What Colors Complement Purple Color Palettes?

Purple color palettes have powerful effects on people. Although its shades evoke several positive reactions, sometimes purple can bring about negative feelings like arrogance, fear, and resentment. That’s why it’s essential to balance purple out with complementary colors.

Designers should integrate yellow when using purple color palettes in design. Yellow is situated across from purple on the color wheel, offering vivid contrast.

Other citrus-toned colors might include lime greens and bright oranges, which stand out against purple. Darker shades of purples also go well with browns and neutrals. A light grey or greige background with plum-colored text and images produces an appealing, classic aesthetic. 

Whereas blues and pinks typically go well with purple, red and purple often clash — yet, when done correctly in moderation, the combo can make an unexpectedly bold design statement. 

For example, Hawaiian Airlines’ purple logo — which depicts former Miss Hawaii Pualana — uses a purple gradient effect for her hair, reminiscent of a Hawaiian sunset over a beach. A bright red hibiscus pops against her hair, informing consumers of what to expect on their visit. Among a slew of generic airline logos, Hawaiian Airlines is one of the most effective design picks.

Designing With Purple Color Palettes

According to ColorPsychology.org, correct color usage boosts brand recognition by 80% and visual presentation by 93%. Another 85% of consumers make their buying decisions based on color. 

Generating designs with purple color palettes is tricky, but more than likely will result in a stunning creation. Before deciding on the proper shades, designers must fully understand the scope of purple’s psychological meaning. 

It’s also crucial for them to define their target demographic. Because purple indicates wealth and luxury, it might be ideal for beauty or jewelry brands. One can see how a diamond necklace might suggest prestige.

In marketing, purple color palettes signify top-quality brands, such as the following:

  • Cadbury
  • Hallmark
  • Asprey London — supplier of accessories for royal families
  • New York University
  • Los Angeles Lakers

You might even notice that the L.A. Lakers basketball team logo sets purple text against a yellow background — purple’s complementary color.

If designing for a service-oriented company, marketing with purple color palettes suggests premium customer service and end satisfaction.

Likewise, young adults may connect to purples with reddish tones, interpreting sex appeal and rebellion. Creative professionals — designers, photographers, musicians, psychics, and cosmetic brands — also commonly choose purple.

The Pantone Color of the Year 2022 showcases Very Peri — described as untroubled confidence and budding inquisitiveness that awakens creativity and innovation. Filled with wonder and intrigue, Very Peri encourages people to remain open to all possibilities and transform their perspectives and visions for the future. 

Shutterstock’s 2019 Color Trends survey also found that bright purples induced almost a positive electrical charge in our daily lives — think digital devices, buzzy neon signs, and flashing lights. 

Predominantly Purple Creations

Designers might choose to create designs made entirely or mostly with purple. Although this design option was only sometimes popular, it’s certainly a bold branding move in today’s market. 

To offset the solid purple hues, designers might incorporate black and white for a striking visual. 

Purple as an Accent Color

As previously mentioned, purple pairs well with neutrals, grays and browner shades. As such, designers might use purple color palettes to accentuate their designs.

Text, logos, and purple-tinted photography can elevate a neutral design and create the proper messaging. 

Pastel Purple Shades

Pastel purple color palettes work well in invitations, business cards, and stationary. A couple planning a wedding for the spring might want to send out lavender-tone invitations — reminiscent of blooming flowers.

Meanwhile, lighter purples also look great with black-and-white photography or simple typography. 

Eye-Catching Designs With Purple Color Palettes

Creating designs using purple color palettes will make the finished product stand out. Whether it serves as the primary hue or complimentary color, purple shades bring out an air of drama for a visually stunning design that captivates audiences. 

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