Is Your Brand Color Blind Friendly?

Honey, let’s talk color palettes. Color is a major component of any brand’s visual identity and any strategic color palette is grounded in emotion and color theory, right? But before you get back to designing your mood boards, have you evaluated the adaptability of those beloved colorblind friendly palettes? Have you considered if your brand color palette caters to all?

According to the World Health Organization, 1.3 billion people live with some degree of color vision impairments or colorblindness. It more predominantly occurs in men (sorry fellas) and there are two common group types, red-green color blindness and blue-yellow color blindness. 

Deuteranomaly is the most common type of red-green color blindness, where greens will have a more red shade. Protanomaly, on the other hand, makes red look more green. Then there’s Protanopia and Deuteranopia, both make it hard to tell any difference between red and green altogether. 

Tritanomaly makes blue and green hard to differentiate along with red and yellow. While Tritanopia makes it difficult to tell the difference between certain combinations of colors like blue/green, purple/red, and yellow/pink. 

With 5-10% of the American population experiencing some degree of color vision impairments, and in the interest of brand accessibility, we as designers and as brands have a duty to make sure that our brand assets are speaking to as many people as possible. So how can we make sure we’re designing color blind friendly palette materials? 

Well, while it’s nearly impossible to find a perfect brand identity color palette that’s interpreted the same, there are some incredible advances and platforms available that can mathematically simulate how colors appear to those with color blindness.

To be clear, we’re certainly not asking you to redo your branding in totality or cut ties with your colors all together but rather hope to encourage a mindful approach to how you’re using color in application.

Check out these top 3 resources to help you plan your branding color palettes: 

1. Palette Checker (Pictured):

  1. Colorblinding (Chrome Extension)
  2. Coblis Image Simulator: 

Some additional tips to consider: 

  1. Limit solo red and green combos: A good rule of thumb is to avoid relying solely on red and green combinations all together—makes sense since those are the most problematic! This is particularly important when differentiating between actions on websites and charts. ‘Stoplight’ color palettes (red, yellow and green) make it particularly troublesome to decipher: 

2. Focus on contrast: If you happen to be employed by The North Pole and you must use red and green, use contrast (light and dark) to your advantage as much as possible.

3. Use blue and orange:
 A common color blind friendly palette and complimentary colors on the wheel, this combo is a great go-to option.

4. Go gray: Grays are pretty consistently interpreted across the spectrum of color blindness, not to mention they offer a nice neutral to any palette.

5. Use other identifiers to distinguish data: Include labels, patterns or texture to help portray data.

Want to learn more about how your brand fares in the accessibility department? Take a look at the recent blog Is your brand accessible?  

Ready to improve your brand accessibility? We’ve got the checklist you need!

References: National Eye Institute & World Health Organization

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