7 Subtle Color Palettes

Five dark pink paint swatches on a light pink background

Vibrant colors and high contrast don’t work for every visual brand.

Whether you’re aiming for a sophisticated, gentle, or mature brand personality, or you’re just a little color-phobic, there’s still plenty of subtle color palettes that are interesting and engaging.

A color palette with three shades of gray, a soft blue, and white

Soft and simple

Pairing a range of grays and white with a soft pastel color is a great way to have a color accent people can start to associate with your business, while keeping the palette gentle and mostly neutral.

A color palette with black, two grays, and two shades of soft yellow


Pairing black and a soft shade of yellow (or any color you like) with lighter shades of the two adds depth and contrast without feeling overwhelming.

A color palette with navy, two shades of gray, and two shades of brown

Masculine Neutrals

A dark navy can replace the standard black, and pairing it with cool grays and rich brown creates a neutral palette with warm and cool notes.

A color palette with black, two grays, white, and a seafoam green

Pop of Color

Here’s a secret: any color looks good paired with black, white, a dark gray, and a light gray. This is a great option for the design-illiterate who need to make a professional color palette on the fly.

A color palette with five shades of dusty pink

Muted Monochrome

Choose a medium-toned muted color, and create the rest of the palette by adding shades (created by adding black) and tints (created by adding white) of your original color.

A color palette with cool and warm browns, a dusty mauve, and a light warm gray

warm earth

Mix various shades of warm and muted neutrals to create a cozy earthy palette.

A color palette with black, forest green, navy, warm gray, and light gray

dark and handsome

Deep, rich colors paired together create a nice tonal effect. Though black, navy, chocolate, and forest green may feel overpowering individually, together they balance each other out and create a nice sophisticated and masculine palette.

A brand board for a virtual assistant with brand personality, logo, fonts, color palette, and photos

Want me to create a custom color palette (and logo and font pairings and photo style) for your business? Check out my Noteworthy Visual Brand Starter Kit.



I'm Sierra Kellermeyer, brand designer.

I work with passion-driven small business owners who feel their visual marketing is disconnected from their core identity and ideals. I get to know them, their business, and their services, and design them a Noteworthy Visual Brand that effortlessly attracts their ideal clients.