Given a set of colours in a branding/style guideline that have a very dull look & feel (dark blue, light grey, dark grey and black) and no alternatives as secondary colour, what are some possible design strategies that will make the website design look more bright and vibrant?

The reason for asking this question is because at the moment the branding strategy is being worked on at the moment, and there are conflicting opinions about the best way to make the brand more modern while still sticking to the existing standards. So I haven't tried to come up with any designs yet and didn't want to disclose more information so as to keep the client information private.

The argument for sticking to the original colour palette is to align with existing brand hierarchy, while the argument for either changing or extending the colour palette is because the colours that I have indicated are difficult to use for creating a bright and modern look & feel.

The question is not about exact implementation details, but some of the strategies of creating different look & feel using existing colour palettes rather than using complementary secondary colour palettes.

So one thing I thought of might be instead of using the primary colours for branding and make them very distinct, use them in more subtle ways like highlights and accents, but I can't think of anything else.

The colour palette at the moment consists of:

  • Dark blue #113184
  • Bright blue #1179D2
  • Dark grey #777777
  • Light grey #333333
  • Black #000000

color swatches

Of course, there's nothing stopping you using white as the background or highlight colour.

closed as off-topic by Zach Saucier, Vincent Mar 11 '16 at 15:22

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "If you're asking for help with implementation, please include what you've tried and why it didn't work with screenshots. Please edit your post with what your desired results are, what resources you referenced and why those didn't work. See this meta post for discussion and see this post on how to ask a good question." – Vincent
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    I think it would be very helpful if you provided the color scheme referenced pre-added color as well as a design where it's used. Here on GraphicDesign we also require you to include what you've tried for help with implementation like this. Please edit your question to include this information :) – Zach Saucier Mar 11 '16 at 15:10
  • 1
    I agree with @Zach that a screenhost of the colours, as well as some of your own efforts would greatly help this question. If done properly, this would be a very good example of a critique question done well. Please include some 'shots for us and we'll talk! :) – Vincent Mar 11 '16 at 15:22
  • Thanks for the edit! However I still believe that we'd have to have the color palette or at least some potential designs that you are thinking of to give any real, concrete feedback – Zach Saucier Mar 12 '16 at 0:19
  • @ZachSaucier Are you looking for exact HEX/RGB values? I have mentioned that the primary colour palette consists of a dark blue, light grey, dark grey and black). Thanks. – Michael Lai Mar 12 '16 at 1:38
  • That would be helpful – Zach Saucier Mar 12 '16 at 1:41

Have you considered that the aesthetic of the colors in the brand style guidelines are intended to be 'dull'? If the guidelines only give you dull colors then it probably isn't appropriate to make the design bright and vibrant. After all that's what brand style guidelines are for.

Without making the design overly bright and vibrant you can still make the design visually interesting and engaging. One solution is to make use of images/photography or illustrations—without much else to draw the eye, a muted and dull color palette lends itself well to the use of large images or illustrations.

Other areas to pay attention to are the use of white/negative space, typography and discreet design elements such as the use of borders, line work and iconography. The limited color palette gives you more scope to be creative with other elements.


Try to use bright colours for fonts, icons, creative design elements, buttons.

Highlight some important sections or articles with bright colour backgrounds by following the same colour theme of your website.

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