Colour - first level

Photo: cowi

​The first level must be present at all time – Logo, font and colour.

COWI is grey with a twist of orange! The colours in our palette were chosen to support the overall design, to ensure recognition and to symbolise details in our end products.

The grey

We have three variants of grey. Grey with a brown tone, which symbolizes concrete. Grey with a blue tone, which symbolises iron, and grey with a green tone, which symbolises nature and environment.

Grey with blue tones is the primary colour scheme. This means that most layouts will use this variant of grey.

Grey with brown tone is the secondary colour scheme, while grey with green tones is the tertiary colour scheme. Use the secondary and tertiary colour schemes carefully so that the entire layout maintains a stylish grey look.

Grey may be applied to between 30 and 90 per cent of the design. If grey is applied as a background, the following colours should be used:

  • CMYK: 02 02 02 02
  • RGB: 248 247 246
  • HEX: F8F7F5
  • Pantone: 50% Warm Grey 1 C

Colour code explanation:

  • CMYK – print/reproductions 
  • RGB – On-screen
  • HEX – Web/on-screen
  • Pantone – Reproductions/merchandise and clothing


Orange symbolizes our knowledge and bright ideas and is our accent colour.

The colour is primarily used in the logo and to highlight words or sentences. It may only be applied to ten per cent of the entire design.

The orange can, however, be used as a full-page colour in PowerPoints, for greeting cards and section dividers. In such case, it will take up more than ten per cent.

White space

White is not a colour, but white space is a very important part of the entire layout. The entire design is created around the notion of white space being a part of the airy Scandinavian layout, leaving space for text, pictures and graphics to stand out.

To support the colour scheme and to render text softer, 'COWI black' was chosen as font colour. COWI black is 80 per cent black. 

Secondary tertiary colour scheme

Secondary and tertiary colours are to be used in information graphics. These colours may only be applied to a maximum of five per cent of the entire design and primarily to graphs with explanatory information. They are to be used for PowerPoints, Excel, Word and InDesign.


Both primary, secondary and tertiary colours can be used in information graphics. When applying colours, always start with the darkest colour and move downwards in the hierarchy of nuances. Move laterally, one step at a time. If needed, you can also move horizontally on the same level, but the best effect is obtained by moving laterally.


  • Bar chart: Orange is used for descriptions only. The three different variations of grey can be used in any way you like. The best differentiation is accomplished by mixing all three variations while mixing dark and light nuances.
  • Pie chart: Orange is the primary colour, but can also be used as a highlighter. White can be used as an outline if the chart is placed on a grey background. The three different variations of grey can be used in any way you like. The best differentiation is accomplished by mixing all three variations while mixing dark and light nuances.
  • Hierarchy charts: Orange is the first colour used in a hierarchy followed by a dark variation of the primary colour. The following colours can be varied according to the number of levels. The best differentiation is accomplished by mixing second and tertiary colours.



Print production

The primary colours must always be reproduced correctly. On print, the colours can vary depending on paper quality. Therefore, you should consider whether the surface is coated or uncoated and the colour of the paper. To get the best result, we strongly recommend that you use coated paper, if possible.

In the colour overview specifications, colour codes are provided to accommodate different media such as print or plastic. Not all codes are provided because not all colours are meant for the specific areas (see the colour code explanation above).

LAST UPDATED: 05.08.2015