Healthcare and Color

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Here at Chartwell Agency we have a strong focus on the Healthcare industry. One area where we have a long relationship and seasoned expertise in is the independent and assisted living segment. As a designer, this segment presents a unique set of visual challenges. In particular, color.

Recently we started the process of a brand redesign for an independent and assisted living facility. The first item on our list was a logo redesign. There are lots of things to consider when starting a logo redesign (first and foremost structure) but, right around the corner is color exploration. This audience is unique in that color perception is nearly as important as shape perception. Thus, the balance and harmony of these two design aspects need to be taken into consideration from the very beginning. This thinking then extends into a secondary supportive color palette, outside of the logo, for use in brand communications, such as print and web.

What’s unique about the color exploration for this audience is that it not only requires you to understand the psychology of color but also the physiology of color perception. As we age the lenses in our eyes yellow, reducing the transparency, which in turn makes it more difficult to discern certain hues. The majority of research on this subject focuses on environment, like interior design. That doesn’t mean that the same information can’t be translated into other visual applications, like a brand.


Here are some of the things that need to be considered and some things that might come as a surprise when thinking about color, branding and an aging audience.

  • Hues: This is a bit of a paradox. Research tells us cool colors are emotionally comforting and calming. Which is typically a goal of the healthcare industry. The problem, when it comes to communication, is that cool colors like blues and greens become more difficult to tell apart as we age. Warm colors like reds, oranges and yellows tend to hold up better but they are typically associated with intense emotional reactions. So, what can we do?
  • Saturation: We can address this with selecting colors with greater saturation in the cool hues. This deepening of color helps counter the perceived yellowing that an aging eye produces. What’s interesting about this, is that historically we have tended to lean towards a pastel palette when designing for an aging audience. This was done with the perception of young eyes. Current research has contradicted this thinking and has guided us toward more rich, saturated color palettes when designing for this audience.
  • Contrast: When developing a palette of colors, it’s important to think about contrast amongst the colors. Most likely all of the colors within a brand palette won’t be used at the same time but, you do want to have colors that you can pair together that will allow for contrast. Typically, when color contrast is discussed for healthcare it’s referring to environmental navigation. For example: Can the floor be discerned from the walls? The same principle of navigation can be applied when designing for your brand. Can I distinguish copy from the background? Can I isolate sections and guide people through content? Are all of the structural elements of the logo apparent?


It’s a fascinating industry, and one that will require even more of our research and attention as one of the largest growing. You can be sure that when it comes to healthcare, Chartwell Agency will stay ahead of the curve with your branding and marketing needs.