It is what it sounds like. Chromophobia: the fear of color. While I haven’t been able to find actual testimonials on the Internet from anyone who admits to it, I know it exists. Some of my very clients have it. For most people, chromophobia is less an actual fear of colors than a fear of committing to a color decision, enhanced by uncertainty in how to utilize colors. The palette becomes a challenge and a mystery!

Conspiracy of Color
Words and Pictures by Grant Snider, Incidental Comics. Order a poster »

Don’t be afraid. This is why you hired a professional. For designers, color is a critical tool for developing compelling creative and great design. Along with typography, imagery, illustration, layout (use of space) and great copywriting, these are the guns in our holster to make your business look great. When used properly, color can make your marketing materials look totally awesome. When not considered, the outcome usually shows a tepid design solution, making a weak impact.

Color can be quite personal to people. Many times I’ve had a client begin to art direct me as regards to color (usually of a logo) based on his or her personal color preference. Nope! That’s not where we start. My approach is: begin with the goal, end with the gut. We take a strategic approach to developing a color palette, based on the visual tone developed in the brand frame. So if the visual appeal of the brand should feel “happy, optimistic, enlightened,” I will go for a brighter tone. A principal color is selected first, then supplemental colors that work with it, then a highlight (complementary) color or two.

Birchwood Center Palette


When designing a brand, we like to work through the color choices in a “proof of concept” — an actual piece of collateral like a brochure or web page — to be sure the color are working together. This is where the gut comes in. Picking colors relies on a sense of what will work best not only aesthetically, but across all kinds of marketing collateral: web, print, signage, etc.

Birchwood Center

While developing the proof of concept, there may be subtle shifts before we nail down a final palette, which looks like this:

Birchwood Center Palette

The final color palette will include directions for using spot colors, CMYK and RGB values (??) so that the colors will always match. We go through this process so that we can keep it simple in the end. The overall color choices become more limited based on the palette we’ve chosen for you, and this bleeds into what we choose for imagery as well, as the images need to look good with the color palette.

Let’s have fun with it!