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Colour palette

The Brighter World colour palette reflects our dedication to tradition and our long history of innovation.

For decades, McMaster’s visual identity has been linked to our signature maroon. Brighter World embraces this tradition by featuring maroon as our primary colour, while introducing some new secondary colours to the mix.

Expandable List

Strengthen the McMaster brand by consistently using the McMaster colour palette. The rich hues convey tradition and stability. These colours are all reflected in the McMaster logo, an essential element of our brand identity. McMaster Heritage Maroon is the primary colour, and best represents the McMaster brand. It should always be the first choice of colour used in designs or layouts.

McMaster Heritage Maroon

If McMaster Heritage Maroon has been prominently used, secondary colours may be used for further visual interest and differentiation in the layout. If even more colour range is necessary, there is a collection of approved accent colours that can be explored. Continue reading for guidance on the use of these additional colours.

A square set in Heritage Maroon.
  • PMS 222C
  • PMS 222U
  • C0 M100 Y15 K60
  • R122 G0 B60
  • HEX 7A003C


McMaster Heritage Gold

McMaster Heritage Gold should be the first additional colour choice after McMaster Heritage Maroon, ensuring McMaster Heritage Maroon is always the more prominent colour.

A square set in Heritage Gold.
  • PMS 136C
  • PMS 122U
  • C0 M27 Y76 K0
  • R253 G191 B87
  • HEX FDBF57


McMaster Heritage Grey

McMaster Heritage Grey is part of the McMaster and Brighter World logos; however, it should not be used as a dominant design colour. It can be used for body copy in web and email applications as a softer alternative to black. 

A square set in Heritage Grey.
  • PMS 431C
  • PMS 432U
  • C45 M25 Y16 K59
  • R94 G106 B113
  • HEX 495965



Tints and shades 

A tint is a lightened version of a colour, while a shade is a darkened version. Tints and shades of the McMaster Heritage colour palette (only) are allowed in select scenarios, such as tables and charts, when information should be separated to increase legibility or provide a hierarchy of information. Tints and shades of accent colours should not be used.

Tints and shades can be created by adding white or black to the original colour. Aim for 20% increments to ensure sufficient differentiation between each iteration.

Gold tints:

A diagram showing various gold tints.

Maroon tints:

A diagram showing various acceptable maroon tints.

The primary and secondary colour palettes should be the dominant colours used for all external-facing assets, including documentation, web pages, graphics, ads, and more; this ensures the McMaster brand is clearly and consistently represented and reinforced in the community and beyond. When assets are developed for an internal audience, additional flexibility is available when it comes to the use of colours. While the primary and secondary colour palettes should still be the most prominent, a collection of accent colours has been carefully selected to complement the Heritage colour palette and each other. Developed to be vibrant and diverse and pay homage to the city of Hamilton, these colours help to reflect the Brighter World brand story and spirit of collaboration at the university.

An image featuring seven coloured squares. The first is pink, and the words "Royal Botanical Pink" are written underneath it. The second is a light green, and the words "Cootes Paradise Green" are written underneath it. The third is a dark green, and the words "King's Forest Green" are written underneath it. The fourth is a dark blue, and the words "Bayfront Blue" are written underneath it. The fifth is a light blue, and the words "Albion Falls Blue" are written underneath it. The sixth is purple, and the words "Pier 4 Purple" are written underneath it. And the seventh is grey, and the words "Dundurn Grey" are written underneath it.

Royal Botanical Pink

A square set in Royal Botanical Pink.
  • PMS 1625 (C + U)
  • C0 M50 Y44 K0
  • R255 G153 B128
  • HEX FF9980


Cootes Paradise Green

A square set in Cootes Paradise Green.
  • PMS 379 (C + U)
  • C14 M0 Y71 K0
  • R228 G234 B108
  • HEX E4EA6C


King’s Forest Green

A square set in King's Forest Green.
  • PMS 343 (C + U)
  • C88 M38 Y84 K35
  • R15 G91 B61
  • HEX 0E5B3D


Bayfront Blue

A square set in Bayfront Blue.
  • PMS 7700 (C + U)
  • C92 M56 Y37 K15
  • R13 G93 B120
  • HEX 0D5D78


Albion Falls Blue

A square set in Albion Falls blue.
  • PMS 635 (C + U)
  • C32 M4 Y 9 K0
  • R170 G213 B225
  • HEX AAD5E1


Pier 4 Purple

A square set in Pier 4 Purple.
  • PMS 7438 (C + U)
  • C18 M44 Y0 K0
  • R204 G153 B204
  • HEX CC99CC


Dundurn Grey

A square set in Dundurn Grey
  • PMS 5315 (C + U)
  • C13 M10 Y9 K0
  • R219 G219 B221

Brighter World accent colours should be reserved for scenarios where the primary and secondary colours have already been used, however, additional variations are still required for function or design. Examples include large or multi-page documents with the primary colours already heavily used, data-driven documents with charts and graphs, or infographics. Accent colours can be used independently in charts or graphs or mixed in with primary and secondary colours. Creative assets being developed exclusively for an internal audience can have more flexibility with the use of the accent colour palette. However, the creative should still include primary and secondary colours to ensure brand consistency.

Brighter World accent colours can be used sparingly after primary and secondary colours are predominant. They are ideal for small details such as icons, callout boxes and stats, especially within multiple-page documents.

A diagram showing how to use the various accent colours in a report.

When building a multipage document, accent colours should be limited to one or two colours per page. When two pages are facing each other (a “spread”), this should be treated the same, only using one or two accent colours across the two pages.

Do Not: 

  • Use accent colours more dominantly than primary and secondary colours. 
  • Use accent colours to create the circle element.

A diagram showing how to use the accent colours in a print publication.

A diagram showing how to use the accent colours in a print publication.

Sufficient colour contrast is crucial for accessibility. It ensures that individuals with various visual abilities easily perceive visual content. Inadequate contrast makes it difficult for people with impairments to read or understand information accurately. By providing sufficient contrast, designers can make their content more inclusive, allowing all users to easily access and navigate digital experiences. Adhering to colour contrast guidelines enhances legibility and usability for a broader audience, resulting in a better user experience.

More flexibility is available when using the accent colour palette for items that are simply adding visual interest to an asset. However, when these colours are used for elements that are critical to the message or context of the asset, follow these guidelines:

On a white background, the following colours have sufficient contrast:

 Five multi-coloured outlined icons of a hand holding a pen on a white backgrounds. The first icon is black and maroon, the second is all black, the third is all grey, the fourth is green, and the fifth is blue.  

On a black background, the following colours have sufficient contrast:

Seven colourful icons of a hand holding a pen on a black background. The first icon is white and gold, the second is white, the third is grey, the fourth is green, the fifth is blue, the sixth is pink, and the seventh is purple.

Black icons can be used on the following coloured backgrounds:

Six black outlined icons of a hand holding a pen on various colourful backgrounds. The first icon is gold, the second is blue, the third is green, the fourth is grey, the fifth is pink, and the sixth is purple.

White icons can be used on the following coloured backgrounds:

Four white outlined icons of a hand holding a pen on a coloured backgrounds. The first icon is on a maroon background, the second is on a blue background, the third is on a grey background, and the fourth is on a green background.

While they are not built into the colour palette, black and white are available as neutral colours. They will be the primary colours for copy on most assets, selected accordingly based on how dark or light the image is; this will ensure proper contrast and legibility. Black and white can also be used as background colours.