Exercise 07.10: Brand Colors


Estab­lish a defined set of col­ors that sup­port the breath of com­mu­ni­ca­tion essen­tial to a visual brand iden­tity across a con­tem­po­rary range of media forms.


Cre­ate a list of col­ors and appro­pri­ate codes use­ful in doc­u­ment­ing a brand’s color iden­tity, and cre­ate the nec­es­sary files use­ful in dis­trib­ut­ing those colors.



Using efforts from pre­vi­ous or in-process assign­ments, gen­er­ate a range of col­ors use­ful for cre­at­ing the arti­facts and expe­ri­ences typ­i­cal of the the breadth of con­tem­po­rary brand. Color choices should cover a wide range of uses, com­mu­ni­cate effec­tively, as well as meet Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA) com­pli­ancy. The appli­ca­tions are almost end­less, but a basic set will include the following:

  • Core or pri­mary Logo col­ors (30% estab­lished with pre­vi­ous assignment)
  • Base or back­ground col­ors (60%)
  • Accent col­ors (10%)
  • Head­line and body text col­ors, pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive backgrounds
  • Shades and tints of colors
  • Restric­tions on col­ors, usabil­ity of color

Good palettes will work any­where, or rather a basic appli­ca­tion of col­ors will inform the palette. Com­mon color palette prac­tice includes using a group­ing via the 30−60−10 rule for core, back­ground and accent col­ors. While this is a guide­line, it is valu­able to under­stand­ing the func­tion of col­ors in prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions and design solutions. 

Part One

Exper­i­ment with a set of col­ors for each group but ulti­mately the core col­ors (30% of a use area) should have a pos­i­tive-space, white-like color on one end, two or so core col­ors that com­mu­ni­cate the brand, and a neg­a­tive-space, black-like color to rep­re­sent a spec­trum. Start an RGB Adobe Illus­tra­tor doc­u­ment and build a set of col­ors fol­low­ing the guide­lines below.

Accent col­ors (10% of a use area) are valu­able for draw­ing atten­tion. These choices are used for diver­sity of mes­sag­ing and for visual vari­ety when a brand needs some extra, or is bet­ter adapted to spe­cial occa­sions, such as hol­i­days. Whiles used in small amounts, they can have a big impact and a com­po­si­tion’s visual hier­ar­chy. Develop a range of approx­i­mately 6–8 col­ors that could com­pli­ment the core and be used as an accent. Develop a range of tints and shades for these as well.

Base col­ors (60% of a use area) will be gen­er­ally on the light or dark ends of the core col­or’s range, with fewer options in the mid­dle. Develop a list of approx­i­mately 10 tints or shades that will com­ple­ment (ie sup­port grace­fully, not lit­eral com­ple­ment or oppo­site) the core and accent col­ors. These will be fairly neu­tral, light tints, such as grey, light tan, or other light mix­tures of sev­eral hues.

Develop a list of tone asso­ci­a­tions with col­ors. Ensure these align with the per­cent­ages and with the brand mes­sag­ing devel­oped in ear­lier assign­ments. Like­wise, develop any restric­tions on col­ors or use.

Part Two

Doc­u­ment these col­ors in RGB and HEX val­ues. Use these val­ues, as well as the Pan­tone guides, the Oro­cal Vinyl guides and the thread guides above, to gen­er­ate sim­i­lar val­ues for the core brand col­ors, and per­haps a few accent col­ors. Many will not be exact, but a close approx­i­ma­tion is key.

Next, trans­late the RGB and HEX val­ues to CMYK repli­cant vari­a­tions in a CMYK doc­u­ment. Adjust the RGB val­ues as needed since CMYK does not have the same color gamut as RGB.

Cleary orga­nize each set of color groups for each color mode as global color swatches in Adobe illus­tra­tor. Use the color palette tools to export these files as Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ase) files. Doc­u­ment nature of the color model (RGB or CMYK) in the names of the files so it is clear upon import.

Deliver the Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ase) files to the appro­pri­ate D2L Drop­box. Cre­ate and deliver a PDF of the RGB-HEX col­ors and val­ues to the appro­pri­ate D2L Dropbox.


  • The fol­low­ing rubric posted on D2L will deter­mine exer­cise score: Exer­cise Grading


Adobe illus­tra­tor or other vec­tor draw­ing pro­gram, Acro­bat Professional


As defined by cor­re­spond­ing cal­en­dar item, drop­box, dis­cus­sion or con­tent topic description.