Kieran Harrod

Brand Design & Consultancy

Kieran Harrod

Brand Design & Consultancy

Kieran Harrod Design

How do you select colours for your brand?

Cadburys ran a quarter of a century campaign to own purple. Specifically Pantone 2685C. A 1995 trademark however does protect the purple when wrapping chocolate bars, but not things like hot chocolate or cakes. Nestle opposed any further expansion of the TM.

And Dyno-rod, well they have a thing for Day-Glo orange don't you know (a small glazing firm in Sheffield certainly learned about it in 1999 when Dyno-rod came a knocking).

All sorts of brands make a point of ensuring the colours they use do some heavy lifting and help differentiate them from their rivals. Think of a sector and you can usually define the key players by colour. Take banking brands for example here in the UK. Santander; Red. Lloyds; Dark Green. Natwest; Purple (not Pantone 2685C though). RBS; Blue. HSBC; White and Red.

Choosing colours is often one of the more subjective elements of a brand. It's rare that only one colour will "work" as the solution for a brand or that as a designer I'm compelled to use a specific colour, though this can be the case when putting together a rebrand and the old brand colours have value.

So how do I go about picking colours? Is it some sort of huge colour-wheel-or-fortune that I spin? Wouldn't it be great if that was a workable choice? The answer is very rarely the same for each different brand, it something that develops as you resarch the project and begin to get a feel for the client.

In one example, when working on a project in Walthamstow, down in London village, it became apparent that the character of the borough itself would direct the colour apect of the brief. I had a grand tour of the area alongside a sunny March day with the customer and we were able to have a good few hours exploring and chatting.

This helped across the whole project of course, and with a bucket full of photos from my visit and a desire to bring out the locality within the brand, it especially aided me in selecting colours. Add in a splash of confidence & ambition from the customer and I was able to select a range of bold colours to apply to the branding.

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