Communicating Color with Adobe Kuler

Colored PencilsBusiness communication isn’t limited to the written word. It encompasses everything that conveys a message, from graphics and sound to smells. Obviously, most communication efforts only include a few of these elements….after all, no one has popularized the smell-o-vision television yet. And thankfully, most websites have stopped forcing obnoxious background music on unsuspecting web visitors. (Although many still allow advertising videos to start automatically…tisk, tisk!)

This leaves us with the two most common elements in formal business communication: written content and visuals. Visuals include pictures, logos, and illustrations. This category also covers the artistic and functional designs of websites, brochures, postcards, posters, business cards, signs, etc…basically, stuff we look at.

All visuals have one unifying factor—color. While color theory is beyond the scope of this post,  most of us have an innate understanding of how color can make us feel. For example, most people will agree that bright, bold colors can put us on edge but can also remind us of strength or youthfulness. Muted, natural colors can be relaxing but can also be boring.  These feelings impact our interpretation of all messages, including business communication.

If you are having trouble picking colors that will connect with your customers or clients, check out the Adobe Kuler web tool. You can look at popular color palettes (called “themes”) created by other people or generate your own based on a photo or core color you’ve already selected.

The site looks a bit intimidating at first because the user interface is a little awkward, but once you start playing around with the options, it becomes quite addictive! Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Adobe Flash must be installed on your computer.
  • You don’t have to own any paid Adobe products to use Kuler, but you have to sign up for a free Adobe account if you want to save your themes.
  • Your saved themes are located under the MyKuler tab in the sidebar. (For some reason, this is not obvious.) See Figure 1 below.
  • If you want to see the hexadecimal, RGB, or CMYK numbers for the individual colors, select the small button with the slider image on the right side of the screen.  See Figure 1 below.

Kuler Screen Shot

Figure 1 — Adobe Kuler

Of course, you’re not limited to using Kuler for business communication. You can use it to coordinate paint colors between your kitchen and your living room…use it as inspiration for your next nail polish purchase….or use it to pick out the color of bridesmaids’ dresses.  (Okay, be careful with that last one.)


NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. This is my own opinion, which I am sharing purely for the purpose of furthering business communication.


Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in business documents, copywriting, marketing collateral, blogs, web copy, and instructional content.

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