Bright Color Palette: How and When to Use One
A bright color palette can bring a “color pop” to any design. Here's how to do it without going too far.
From home decor to fashion design, bright colors and vibrant colors are trending.
The reason is simple: a bright color palette has the power to make the design pop while putting the audience in a bubbly mood.
But what are the benefits of using bright colors? Can you use a bright color palette in any design? How can you incorporate a bright color palette into your designs?
You will find the answers to these questions and more in this article, so keep on reading.
The Benefits of Using Bright Colors
Bright Colors Increase Readability and Legibility
As a designer, making the copy in your design as readable and legible as possible is crucial.
Any one-liners or company names you add to your design must be easy to read, and bright colors tend to catch a viewer's eye.
The typeface you choose is also essential, as you need to make sure the letters are distinguishable.
But sometimes it's hard to make all design elements work together while still making the text visible.
Here’s when bright colors come into the picture. Using a bright-colored background will instantly increase readability and visibility. You can also use bright colors for the typography to make the letters pop.
However, working with a high level of color contrast may be tricky at times. You have to be careful with the contrast levels of your design so that the bright colors do not “backfire.” We recommend you use a mild contrast level and “save” high contrasting colors only when highlighting some design elements.
Bright Colors Make Your Design Recognizable
Bold, bright colors are easier to remember, because the human brain reacts automatically to these colors.
That's why some companies apply bold colors or bright colors in their branded items and even their logo design.
To double down on this advantage, if you use a bright color palette in your logo, you should keep the same color scheme on your website and mobile app. This will also create a sense of consistency and make your brand even more recognizable.
Using bright colors in your logo and other design elements increases the chances that your logo or any other design will stand out from the rest. However, not every company can use bright colors in their logo design, website, mobile apps, etc.
A detailed study of the market and the target audience has to be conducted in advance so that the preferences of your target audience match with what you are offering.
Bright Colors Can Help Set the Mood and Stimulate Viewers’ Energy
When you use bright colors, you're not just making your design pop.
You are also setting the mood and atmosphere for anyone that looks at it. Several studies on color psychology have found that the human brain will “read” colors even if we don't fully notice them.
Colors matter, because every color conveys a specific type of emotional energy.
Color brightness and contrast matter as well. So use bright colors wisely, depending on what kind of mood you want to create for your audience.
But how do you make sure that you convey the right tone and stimulate the proper energy? This is where color meaning comes into play. Each color has a unique meaning. All the colors of the rainbow have their own meaning as well.
Bright Colors Can Make Your Brand Look Instantly Trendy
There is no denying that bright colors are associated with trendy, modern looks.
Websites that use bright colors, vivid colors, and a modern color palette are instantly recognizable and grab your attention in no time.
Tech giants such as Apple have also caught on to this trend.
Suppose you look at the latest iPhone colors, iPhone protective covers, and Apple’s website. You will likely notice that the company mainly uses a bright color palette and a pastel color palette.
Both of these palettes have been widely used in architecture, home decor, fashion design in the last decade. The popularity of these eye-catching colors is only growing, and we are here for it.
Apple’s logo is one of the most famous logos out there, and its official colors are black and grey. However, this detail did not stop Apple from being creative with its new iPhones and its latest products. The colorful website also matches the new colors of its latest products, making the brand look consistent everywhere.
If you already have a logo or design concept that uses neutral palettes or muted shades, you can still play around with bright colors for your product packaging or design. If bright colors may seem too much to your taste, you can still add just a touch of bright color, and it would still make your brand trendy and “in style.”
Can You Use a Bright Color Palette in Any Design?
Technically? Yes. Realistically? Not really.
Depending on your project, a bright color palette can make or break your design. You have to evaluate whether the bright color palette of your choice works well with the mood and feel you want to convey through your design.
Sometimes, a bright color palette may be just the thing you need to spice up your designs. Other times, you might have to re-evaluate the purpose of your design and decide whether an entire bright color palette or just a touch of bright colors will work best in that particular case.
In which way can you incorporate a bright color palette into your designs?
There are endless ways to incorporate a bright color palette into your designs. Here are just a few examples where a bright color palette can save your day.
1. Adding Bright Color in Unexpected Places
Bright color added where the viewer least expects it feeds into the element of surprise that can instantly grab people’s attention.
In the example above, the entire design is black and white, except for the peeled banana.
Not only has the designer decided to leave the inside of the banana colored, but instead of white, she has used a bright color combination. Since we are used to banana’s white and yellow colors, seeing the colors replaced with magenta and turquoise makes the visual pop.
Another example of adding unexpected bright color in your designs is this cover letter design by Anagrama Studio.
The hand-woven rug company Odabashian makes primarily neutral-colored rugs with their bright yellow tag stitched onto the bottom side of their rugs.
To visualize this Odabashian detail, Anagrama Studio has tried to use a similar concept by using neutral colors for the front page of the cover letter and a bright yellow for the back of the page, mimicking the bright yellow tag of the rugs.
This is a perfect example of how you can use bright colors in unexpected places and, at the same time, give meaning to them by being in line with the brand’s core strategy.
The bright yellow on the back page is wildly unexpected, given most documents use black and white colors or just a pop of color here and there.
So if you want to make the viewer feel taken aback, try to think differently and replace the colors of real-life objects (and even people) with unusual colors that would only exist in a fantasy world.
2. White Space and Bright Colors - a Match Made in Heaven
Nothing “begs” more for the use of bright colors than a street art festival.
And the creator of this bright-colored poster has not disappointed, using several bright colors to transmit feelings of excitement and happiness.
Sometimes, a colored background also works well with bright colors, but nothing makes bright colors pop more than a simple, white background. It is a match made in heaven, especially if you use various bright colors mixed together.
In this example, the white background color is necessary to give the eyes room to “breathe” and take in the colorful characters.
Unless you want to make your design intentionally complicated, such as designing a “Where's Wally” poster or interactive Google game, you need to leave space between the characters you design. Picking a neutral background to guide the viewers’ attention to your colorful designs is always a smart move.
Alternatively, you can reverse-engineer this concept and use a bright colored background and white figures in the foreground. It all depends on your idea and which part of the design you want to make it pop.
3. A Touch of Bright Color is All You Need
Less is more sometimes. And this cannot be more true than in this case.
The designer has only added a touch of bright color to this label design, which is more than enough to make the design pop.
The yellow half-circle mixed with neutral colors works very well for this Vincit beer label design. If you want to keep using neutral colors but think that the overall design is craving a touch of bright color, feel free to experiment with it.
Try out different bright colors and use them sparingly. We recommend not using too many bright colors to your design if you aim to add just a touch of bright color. One or two bright colors may be more than enough to make your design sparkle.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Monotone
Going monotone is not only a great fashion tip but also a great way to make your graphic design stand out and look professional.
Using monochromatic colors can work perfectly with your design concept.
You just need to pay extra attention to details so that you use the right shade in the right places. For instance, you can use lighter shades of the same color to indicate where the source of light is coming from and use darker shades for the design parts that are not “hit” by the light source.
In the above example, the designer has used a blue color palette. We can see that the source of light is coming from behind. We can tell this by looking at the contrast between the darker and lighter shades of blue color used in this design.
The white color also plays a significant role in this design as it is used to create a more defined silhouette and break the monotony of blue combinations, giving the eyes a place to rest. The blue background is also in the same shade as the main part of the body so that the viewers’ attention gets directed to the white elements of the design.
Using a monochromatic color scheme with just one color is also an option. However, if you need to add typography, try to use only one color for the letters. White letters with an elegant color scheme such as monochromatic usually work great together.
To make the design more visually appealing and at the same time to add more depth to it, playing with different shades of the same color, such as variations of darker shades with lighter shades, will do wonders.
Dark colors combined with light colors are primarily used to create color harmony and make powerful design combinations.
Monochrome and duochrome design is also part of our 2021 graphic design trends list, so you can be sure that this is an effective color combination this year.
Which Bright Color Palette Should You Use?
Knowing you will use a bright color palette is one thing.
Choosing which bright color palette you will use is entirely another thing.
To make your choice easier, start doing some research before picking random colors that might not work well with the overall brand. If you are a freelancer and need to design a logo for one of your clients or create a promotional poster, ask as many questions as possible in advance.
The people you will work with will be happy to help if you ask for a few directions before working on your design. Sometimes, a mood board will do wonders, helping you understand what your clients want and expect from you.
You can create a page in Jira or a Miro board to collect all the inspirations and design examples that the company and the team envision. All these bits and pieces will act as your mood board, helping you immensely when you pick the colors from the color wheel.
From primary colors to complementary colors and complementary color combinations, the options are endless. Therefore any direction that will help you decide. For instance, will sequential color schemes or a completely fresh color combination be the best way to go?
If you need to create designs for female makeup or facial care products, a feminine color combination is probably your best bet.
Your color choices can be a combination of royal purple, cobalt blue, dark green, royal blue, delicate pinks, bold orange, dark gray, light blues, charcoal gray, lime green, and blazing yellow.
You can combine approachable colors such as cream gold colors with metallic gold or cool gray and add a touch of bright color to make the design pop.
Another combination of colors can be combining one or two bright colors with a neutral shade or even deep shades and crisp shades. Using a bright shade such as bright green shades combined with other gorgeous shades will also help you create a vibrant scheme.
Adding a gradient, such as a purple gradient or a green gradient, is also trendy nowadays. There are so many types of color combinations, so play around with hex codes and decide on the colors you want to use. You can play and learn more about the gradient tool on Vectornator.
Ready to explore any color family of your choice and start your cool color combination journey? With Vectornator, it's easy to create a blend of colors or search for an analogous color combination.
Are you looking for color palette ideas? From a dark color palette (such as dark blue or green color palette) to a complementary color palette, we have plenty of articles exploring these various color palettes and color pairs.
We understand the importance of color in design and color matching, so feel free to use Vectornator to create vibrant designs using a bright color palette. And as always, don't forget to share your designs with us. We love to see what our users come up with, so don’t be shy!
October 12, 2021