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Colour is a key element of any organisation’s identity. Our research shows that patients and the public strongly associate the NHS with the colours blue and white. 87% of people spontaneously recall these two colours when asked about the NHS Identity.

Therefore, NHS Blue and white are the dominant colours in the NHS colour palette. They help signpost people to NHS organisations and services, by ensuring that materials are instantly recognisable as originating from the NHS. They also ensure that communications maximise the strong value of the NHS Identity and the positive attributes that patients, the public and stakeholders attach to the NHS.

It is important to note that the NHS colour palette applies to the design of NHS communications including graphics and illustrations. For illustrations, we recognise that the palette does not include colours for skin tones. Please use the colours you require for that purpose. The colour palette does not apply to portrait/subject photography. Colour photography usually contains a multitude of colours and does not need to reflect the NHS colour palette or the colour emphasis shown below. However, abstract images do need to follow the NHS colour palette as the images are being used as graphics.

Core NHS colours

NHS Blue

Pantone: 300
CMYK: 99/50/0/0
RGB: 0/94/184
RAL: 5017


CMYK: 0/0/0/0
RGB: 255/255/255

The core NHS Blue and white are supported by four other groups of colours in the NHS colour palette, to provide NHS organisations with the flexibility to differentiate their communications from each other, but not from the NHS.

The colours in the NHS colour palette all offer at least an AA accessibility rating, with many offering the maximum AAA rating when used with sufficient contrasts on appropriate backgrounds.

Level 1: NHS blues

This is the top level palette that reinforces people’s association with blue and white. There are a number of hues to support the main NHS Blue colour to give lighter and darker alternatives to add tonal variety.

NHS Dark Blue

Pantone: 287
CMYK: 100/75/2/18
RGB: 0/48/135

NHS Blue

Pantone: 300
CMYK: 99/50/0/0
RGB: 0/94/184

NHS Bright Blue

Pantone: 285
CMYK: 90/48/0/0
RGB: 0/114/206

NHS Light Blue

Pantone: 298
CMYK: 67/2/0/0
RGB: 65/182/230

NHS Aqua Blue

Pantone: 312
CMYK: 88/0/11/0
RGB: 0/169/206

Level 2: NHS neutrals

These colours help to support the top level blues. Black and dark grey can be used for type, depending on the background and application. The lighter greys can be used as backgrounds when they are appropriate and are useful online colours. White is, of course, the most important neutral base. These colours will support the overall blue and white look if they are used with the proper emphasis.

NHS Black

Pantone: Black 6
CMYK: 100k
RGB: 35/31/32

NHS Dark Grey

Pantone: 7545
CMYK: 58/32/18/54
RGB: 66/85/99

NHS Mid Grey

Pantone: 7544
CMYK: 35/14/11/34
RGB: 118/134/146

NHS Pale grey

Pantone: 7541
CMYK: 7/1/3/2
RGB: 232/237/238


CMYK: 0/0/0/0
RGB: 255/255/255

Level 3: NHS support greens

Green is close to blue in the colour spectrum and gives a feel of being in the same colour family. Therefore, when they are used moderately and in a secondary support role, they will not compromise the strong associations people have with blue and white. However, if it becomes too dominant it will impact on people’s ability to instantly recognise the NHS as being the source of the information.

NHS Dark Green

Pantone: 342
CMYK: 93/10/75/43
RGB: 0/103/71

NHS Green

Pantone: 355
CMYK: 91/0/100/0
RGB: 0/150/57

NHS Light Green

Pantone: 368
CMYK: 65/0/100/0
RGB: 120/190/32

NHS Aqua Green

Pantone: 3272
CMYK: 94/0/48/0
RGB: 0/164/153

Level 4: NHS highlights

Highlights are very useful for drawing attention to details, helping to warm up the blue look and providing accent colours to enable NHS organisations, partnerships and services to differentiate themselves from each other. However, they should not be used too heavily otherwise they change the overall look dramatically and people will not associate your communication with the NHS. Therefore, use minimally and do not use large blocks of these highlight colours.

The highlight colour ‘Emergency Services Red’ is not exclusively for use in relation to emergency and urgent care services. However, because of its strong association and use in this area, you should carefully consider how you use it for other purposes.

Euro Ambulance Yellow is a colour reference to be used for ambulance livery only.

NHS Purple

Pantone: 2685
CMYK: 90/99/0/8
RGB: 51/0/114

Dark Pink

Pantone: 683
CMYK: 26/99/12/50
RGB: 124/40/85

NHS Pink

Pantone: 675
CMYK: 18/100/0/8
RGB: 174/37/115

NHS Dark Red

Pantone: 1955
CMYK: 9/100/54/43
RGB: 138/21/56

Emergency Services Red

Pantone: 485
RAL 3020 Traffic Red
CMYK: 0/95/100/0
RGB: 218/41/28

NHS Orange

Pantone: 144
CMYK: 0/51/100/0
RGB: 237/139/0

NHS Warm Yellow

Pantone: 1235
CMYK: 0/31/98/0
RGB: 255/184/28

NHS Yellow

Pantone: Process Yellow
CMYK: 0/0/100/0
RGB: 250/225/0

Euro Ambulance Yellow

RAL 1016 Sulphur Yellow

Colour emphasis

Follow this guide to get the overall colour emphasis right. NHS Blue and white must always be the dominant colours. They can be supported by the other colours in the NHS colour palette as long as they are used in decreasing levels of emphasis, as shown in the chart below. This ensures that materials are instantly recognisable as originating from the NHS.

What does this mean in practice?

Here is an example of how the colour emphasis works in practice. This has:

  • plenty of white
  • prominent use of NHS Blue
  • minimal use of highlights.

Using tints

Tints are percentage values of the colours which look like this:

The top bar in each case shows the solid (100%) value of the colour and the bars below show decreasing values from 80% to 20%. It is acceptable to use tints of the colours. Any % value is accepted as long as it is visible, clear and accessible.

However, three important factors need to be considered when using tints:

  • type and NHS logos should always be reproduced in 100% solid colour, never in a tint
  • the NHS logo should never be reversed out of a tint, only out of 100% solid NHS Blue
  • 100% solid NHS Blue should always be the dominant colour over any tints
  • tints should never endanger the legibility or accessibility of any communication
  • the colour emphasis should always be adhered to when using tints, as shown below.

Emphasis of tint use

100% solid NHS Blue and white must always be the dominant colours used. They can be supported by tints of the other colours in the NHS colour palette as long as they are used in decreasing levels of emphasis, as shown in the chart below.