Over the last few months, we have noticed a trend for brands requiring broader colour palettes with more variety in them. Brand projects with one or two core colours and two or three accents now seem to be in the minority and with some brands we’re working with, their palettes range from 10 to 15!

 

Managing large colour palettes

Whilst this might seem overwhelming at first, with thoughtful management and clear brand guidelines, a large colour palette offers many opportunities to keep your brand fresh and distinctive. It also adds the flexibility to tailor your messaging to varied audiences. You can chop and change from a set of colours that works for a corporate environment to attention-grabbing pops of colour for social media or advertising. You could group your colours by audience, or specify colour sets that are used together.

 

Example: IBM

IBM’s wide variety of colours is split into core, full and neutral palettes. Their website primarily sticks to the core palette, whilst they make use of elements of their full palette in their insights.

The right range of colours

Having a good range of the ‘right’ kind of colours is important. If all the colours in a palette shout, it becomes tricky to whisper when needed. And if everything is pale, it might be hard to call for attention.

 

Example: Stripe

Stripe built a tool to develop their colour palette based on accessibility (especially important for their product user interfaces), vibrancy and for each colour to appear to have the same strength. 

Tinting colours

Tints (using a percentage of the strength of a colour) play a big part in a brand’s colour palette. They are useful as backgrounds for text or charts and infographics. However, some colours look washed out or dirty when tinted. Reds, in particular, switch from rich and bold to flat and dull. Having a broader range of colours in your palette means you can rely less on tints, adding depth to communication.

Example: HP

HP have a core colour (HP Blue) and a secondary palette made up of different colour families. Within each family, there are strong and pale shades. There is a small, separate set of colours to use for tints, and the use of colour to reflect the brand’s values is encouraged.

Colour is one of the easiest brand assets to extend and it can bring you a range of benefits from better online UX, to more varied and exciting collateral. All you need to do is make sure it aligns with your long term brand strategy!