A Guide To Choosing Black For Your Brand’s Colour Palette

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Selecting a black for your company’s branding is not always as black and white as it may seem! Did you think that there is just one single black hue? #000000, right? The truth of the matter is that there are MANY options when using black in your branding and design– and the one you choose can make a big difference in people’s perception of your brand.

Believe it or not, black is a complex hue. Just like any colour, there are cool blacks, warmer blacks, and various other black tones with unique aspects. 

Working with black as a design choice for your business’s marketing materials requires an understanding of the many different black colour options and how they influence your potential customers.

Learn more about the true nature of the colour black and how to create a pleasing aesthetic for every aspect of your branding.

Why you should never use pure black (#000000) for typography.

In the most basic terms, black isn’t really a colour – it is the absence of light. It is known as the darkest pigment because it doesn’t reflect any natural light, resulting in a void hue. Essentially, we perceive an object as being the colour black when it absorbs all wavelengths of visible light without reflecting any of the other colours that our eyes can detect.

Pure black, also known as standard or real black, is represented differently depending on its application. For example, in web design, pure black is expressed as hex code #00000. However, in print, the same colour is achieved by selecting 0% cyan, 0% magenta, 0% yellow, 100% key (CMYK). People often resort to using this black simply because it’s is so commonly known, easy to remember and they are often not aware of the many other available black shades out there.

#000000 black can lack depth and significance, often resulting in a flat colour that your potential customers may ignore – which is often not the goal of effective branding. #000000 can be particularly difficult for content with a lot of text as it can cause eye strain due to the extremity of the colour, particularly when paired with pure white.

For these same reason in order to make reading online easier on the eyes, you’ll often find news sites like New York Times (#121212), Forbes (#333333), and CNN (#0c0c0c) avoid the use of #00000 and use different blacks as shown below.

However, there are circumstances when #000000 can be useful.

You must consider multiple factors, such as design, cost, and application, when choosing the right black. #000000 is generally the best option when incorporating small details that still need to pack a punch, as using rich black for finer parts of your branding can result in loss of detail. For example, when printing on very fine print like small text, #000000 is a good choice. This can be for business cards or package labels for example when font size is super small like 8pts or less. Pure black creates a clean look without the “fuzziness” that can come from using a rich black colour.

With that being said, there is so much potential with your black than just pure black, from rich, deep black to coffee and jet black. Subtle differences in your colour palette can make your brand stand out as unique, warm and welcoming. These blacks are what we call Rich Black.

What is Rich Black?

Rich black, on the other hand, is a mixture of the other hues: cyan, magenta, and yellow. Because rich black subtly combines other colours, the finished product is a black with more dimension and personality. The subtle difference is visually noticeable, the user is affected and you can even feel the difference.

For example, in Supernova Site’s branding we use a dark violet (#120945)  that creates a saturated and interstellar kind of look. This was intended to align with the brand’s personality image (fun fact: supernovas are exploding stars in the galaxy). In addition, the dark violet works in alignment with the other colours in the palette, like primary blue. This black compliments and work in analogous to the other colours in the palette. A good tip to remember is that colours always work in relation to one another – never just on their own.

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Rich Black Hex Codes

Have we successfully deterred you from only using #000000? Great! Now, here are a few of our favorite rich black Hex codes for you to easily refer to and copy and paste below:

Vampire Black – #080808

CMYK values = 0%, 0%, 0%, 97%

Smoky Black – #100c08

CMYK values = 0%, 25%, 50%, 94%

Rich Black – #010b13

CMYK values = 95%, 42%, 0%, 93%

Matte Black – #28282b

CMYK values = 7%, 7%, 0%, 83.1%

Onyx – #353935

CMYK values = 7%, 0%, 7%, 78%

Asphalt – #0c0404

CMYK values = 0%, 67%, 67%, 95%

Liquorice – #1a1110

CMYK values = 0%, 35%, 38%, 90%

Midnight – #2b1b17

CMYK values = 0%, 37%, 47%, 83%

Night – #0c090a

CMYK values = 0%, 25%, 17%, 95%

Ashy Black – #22222

CMYK values = 0%, 0%, 0%, 87%

Very Dark Gray – #0c0c0c

CMYK values – 0%, 0%, 0%, 95%

Gray7 – #121212

CMYK values = 0%, 0%, 0%, 93%

Gray20 – #333333

CMYK values = 0%, 0%, 0%, 80%

In almost every case, rich black is the better option. Its deeper tones create a more seamless experience on your graphic and web pages. 


While there is no simple way just to choose black for your branding materials, many options allow you to create a unique aesthetic while ensuring the blacks you use don’t offend the eyes of those getting acquainted with your brand. After all, how you choose to represent your brand should be a top priority when building or growing your business.

If you’re looking for a new brand identity and developing the right colour palette that includes nailing down the perfect black shade, check out our brand identity packages here.

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