Brands That Speak to Everyone
Brands should be universal in their appeal to customers, irrelevant of cultural differences or physical disabilities. A lot has been written about the cultural impact of branding and how different countries have varying preconceived notions of various colours. The one aspect that isn’t as widely discussed is the responsibility of brands to their consumers that are visually impaired: Brand Colour Accessibility Guidelines.
The importance of considering colour accessibility in brand design can not be overlooked as the impact of inaccessible colour choices on individuals with visual impairments is key. Following these guidelines will not only improve the user experience but also demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity and create a positive brand image.
Brand Colour Accessibility Guidelines: Considerations for Ensuring Inclusivity
Understanding Color Accessibility
Colour contrast refers to the difference in visual perception between two colours when they are placed side by side or near each other. It is a crucial aspect of design and accessibility, impacting how easily people can distinguish and interpret visual information. The significance of colour contrast lies in its ability to enhance readability, legibility, and overall user experience in various contexts. These include web design, graphic design, print media, and everyday visual communication.
One of the most significant reasons for considering colour contrast is its impact on accessibility. Not all individuals have the same visual capabilities. Some people may have difficulty distinguishing certain colours, particularly those with colour vision deficiencies. Designing with sufficient colour contrast ensures that people with visual impairments can still perceive and understand the content. For example, using high contrast between text and background colours makes reading easier for individuals with low vision or colour blindness.
Readability and Legibility
In typography and graphic design, colour contrast significantly affects the readability and legibility of text. Using contrasting colours between text and background enhances the clarity of the text, making it easier to read and reducing eye strain. Insufficient contrast, such as light grey text on a white background, can lead to readability issues and cause readers to abandon the content.
Visual Hierarchy and Emphasis
Colour contrast is a powerful tool for establishing visual hierarchy in design. By employing contrasting colours for headings, subheadings, and important elements, designers can direct the viewer’s attention and emphasize key information. This helps users quickly scan and understand the content’s structure and importance.
Branding and Recognition
For branding purposes, colour contrast plays a significant role in creating memorable and recognizable designs. Brands often use a combination of contrasting colours to create visually striking logos and marketing materials. These distinct colour schemes help the brand stand out from competitors and leave a lasting impression on consumers.
User Experience (UX)
In user interface (UI) and web design, colour contrast affects the overall user experience. A well-considered colour contrast ensures that buttons, links, and interactive elements are easily identifiable. This reduces user frustration and increases engagement. Furthermore, an accessible design that considers colour contrast can broaden the potential audience and improve user satisfaction.
Colours have emotional connotations, and their contrast can intensify these emotions. High-contrast colour combinations tend to evoke stronger emotions and create a sense of energy. Low-contrast combinations may result in a more calming and harmonious visual experience. Designers often use colour contrast strategically to convey specific moods or feelings related to the content or brand.
Overview of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards for colour contrast ratios
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines aim to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including visual impairments. One crucial aspect of WCAG is the standard for colour contrast ratios, which ensures that text and interactive elements are easily distinguishable for all users, regardless of their visual abilities.
The WCAG defines two levels of conformance: Level A (the minimum requirements) and Level AA (higher standards for improved accessibility). The colour contrast ratios specified in WCAG are primarily focused on text and its legibility against its background.
The current WCAG standard for colour contrast ratios is as follows:
For normal text and images of text (Level AA):
The minimum contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1 between the text colour and the background colour.
This ratio ensures that most people with low vision or mild visual impairments can read the text comfortably.
For large text (Level AA):
The minimum contrast ratio should be at least 3:1 between the text colour and the background colour.
Large text is defined as text that is at least 18 point (or 14 point if bold) or 24 point (or 18 point if bold) for mobile devices.
This lower ratio is acceptable for larger text because its size alone improves readability for many users.
The colour contrast ratio is calculated by comparing the relative luminance of the text colour and background colour. The formula for calculating the contrast ratio is:
Contrast Ratio (CR) = (L1 + 0.05) / (L2 + 0.05)
L1 is the relative luminance of the lighter colour (usually the background colour).
L2 is the relative luminance of the darker colour (usually the text colour).
The “+ 0.05” is used to prevent a contrast ratio of 0, which would mean the text is invisible, and to adjust for potential display variations.
Brand Color Accessibility Guidelines: Considerations for Ensuring Inclusivity: Designers, developers, and content creators are encouraged to meet these colour contrast guidelines to ensure their websites and digital content are accessible to all users. Meeting these standards not only benefits individuals with visual impairments but also enhances the user experience for everyone, including those using different devices or viewing content in challenging lighting conditions.
Adhering to WCAG colour contrast ratios is an essential step toward creating a more inclusive and accessible web, where information and interactions are available to all users, regardless of their abilities.
Talk to Toast today
If you are considering any form of branding, then Talk to the Toast team and we will help you every step of the way, call us on 01295 266644 or complete the form.