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Have you seen a color palette choice based on the geographical location for websites, applications, etc.? Do color palettes for regions exist? Do you know any examples of websites using this sort of thinking?

In my scenario, I am designing a color palette for a website targeting the Midwest region. Is there any documentation, resources, etc. on this sort of thing? What are some colors that the Midwest might "identify" with?

  • I think it is an interesting concept, however I have not seen any examples of it. I know that Facebook's globe is localised, and shows the part of the world User is in, but regarding colour, this would need to refer either to some preference, emotional design, or some international colour coding. I believe the direction to search is olympics, where each of the circles represents different language (but I doubt someone would be able tell which one is which). The other one would be flags. – Dominik Oslizlo Mar 27 '17 at 19:04
  • Plus, another thing to explore would be some colours that trigger negative emotions. For example, the colour associated to mourning in my country (Poland) is black. I know that in Japan it is white, so it may be a little bit avoided. I think that some "sensitive" products may need to avoid being associated with some emotions and hence they may be a subject of this kind of adaptations. – Dominik Oslizlo Mar 27 '17 at 19:11
  • Good point. You seem to be looking at more country/large scale discussion, but I guess I was looking at more regional/geographical. So instead of colors based on the countries flag, colors that relates to its geography, such as plains, coastal, desert, etc. and what a color palette for that might look like. – Levi J Mar 27 '17 at 19:13
  • Yes, that is something that may happen, still: theoretically. I thing the association here may be a little bit too weak. However there may be some examples. This is a very interesting question, by the way. Could you shed a bit of light on the Product itself? – Dominik Oslizlo Mar 27 '17 at 19:17
  • Well, I don't have a particular product in mind, but just wanted to give an example. What made me think of this question was that I am designing my own website to showcase my resume, projects, hobbies, etc. and being from the midwest, I wanted to choose a color scheme that appealed to people from this area (and myself). I was thinking of something with shades of green, brown, etc. that highlight the agricultural community – Levi J Mar 27 '17 at 19:26
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The problem with geographical color palettes will likely be that the inspiration comes from a very specialized topic.

You're not looking for a random allocation of color, so you need a reason for associating a color with a region - one that users might identify with.

Example inspiration might come from:

  • Geology (earth/rock colors associated with a region)
  • Elevation (green-brown terrain map)
  • Vegetation (lush green, arid brown, desert yellow, salty white)
  • Temperature (red hot, ice blue)

However, these are usually linear scales for mapping purposes. You also need a palette that doesn't vary, so vegetation or temperature might be out.

Alternative inspiration might come from:

  • State University brand colors
  • Football/baseball team colors
  • US State colors

But whatever you pick from these types of inspiration, it's likely to be too subtle for most people because the reasons for your color selections will indeed be your reasons, and won't be directly associated in the user's mind unless you had a legend telling the user about the color palette.

In any case, brand colors are the color of the brand, and if you used (similar) brand colors, you look like the brand and lose individuality.

You need to have a more tangible reason for choosing colors. Being 'regional' isn't enough for most scenarios. John Deere's grassy green and wheat/crop yellow is a great combination, but it's not because of a region. It's a direct association with the immediate environment - it works anywhere their equipment might be used, and so is entirely non regional!

In the digital and distributed age, it seems a strange choice to try and create associations that are too localized if you are trying to appeal to a wider audience. Most people won't get the connection.

Color is the primary communication tool and the best advice is to use a color palette that works well, is consistent and is accessible. The appeal will come from the visual effect, the tone and neutrality, and the composition, not because the colors are regional to you.

Imagine explaining your palette reasons to an interviewer. What would the interviewer care about?

Greens and browns that might work agriculturally in the mid west for example, might not be great for your resume, and might be completely lost when a prospective employer prints it out in black and white, or shows it to a color-blind colleague.

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I can only think of varying the colour palette based on geographical location if specific colours have different cultural significance. In fact, it is precisely because of the fact that these colours have different connotations that they are chosen or avoided in different regions. For example, red is normally associated with prosperity in south east Asian countries like China, HK and Taiwan, but in many western countries like UK or US it typically signifies danger or caution. So I can definitely see certain products or brands perhaps having to adjust to this difference.

However, I think the other issue you have to consider is the ease of managing this across many different regions that you expose your product or service to. Not only that, it is difficult to come up with a consistent brand and guideline if you have to cater for variations across different regions. The problem is magnified if you are dealing with different regions within a country, or different zones within a region.

So while I can see the benefit of this at a broader scale, the issues with consistency and maintenance of doing this at a finer scale far outweighs the advantages it brings. I'll have to try and find some examples, but hopefully others have noticed similar things as well.

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