Colour & Design

stephen_westlandAerosol packaging is an ever evolving design challenge. Designers and brand owners are always keen to make the pack designs fresh, appealing, sustainable and difficult to copy or counterfeit. All consumer good packaging must have shelf-appeal of course; but for aerosols, where people cannot smell or touch the product before they purchase, the need for clear communication on the pack is all the more important.

So the members of BAMA at the 2014 Forum listened with interest to what said the eminent colour scientist, Professor Stephen Westland (above) from the School of Design at the University of Leeds.

He said that colour management and colour meaning are important issues for packaging experts to bear in mind. Perception of colour is what matters for brands, products and packaging.

“A  shaving foam might be ‘white’ but the differing shades of white matter to the perception of the user,” said Prof Westland.

He was overwhelmed by the interest generated.  Companies realise that although they’re doing well they could perhaps do better, by developing a greater understanding of colour psychology.

Colours can be perceived differently when juxtaposed against other colours  – so that a shade of white will look more or less bright when placed against other colours.

Colours also have different meanings to different individuals or groups of people  depending on our innate reaction to colour, the social economic mores and cultural traditions,  with differing geographical and cultural patterns affecting perceptions of colour. For instance, in Western countries, white is associated with purity, health, weddings, and has clean and innocent connotations; elsewhere white is worn for funerals and has very different meanings.

Despite the cultural difference across the globe, he showed research indicating that the preferred colour across the world is blue. “However, just because one colour is your personal favourite, doesn’t mean that you would only select packaging with that colour,” he explained.  “Red is almost universally the colour of danger and blood. However, many products, especially those that contain berry fruits, successfully sell just because they are red. In some countries, and at particular times of the year, red is associated with holidays, happiness and weddings. Context is all important. translations . There is nothing simple about colour perception,” he said.

Prof Westland said, in the future, he could envisage big data gathering and analysing colour perceptions and preferences, so that companies could appeal in a very tailored way to particular customer groups or even individual consumers.

Even now, as Stephen Westland has said, colour perception and branding is not simple; as we are bombarded with even more sources of online visuals in addition to images in the physical world, colour science is, perhaps, about to become even more complex.

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2 thoughts on “Colour & Design

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