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Inspired recently by an article from Design Week, the interesting take on colours and how different designers meet and interact with this common element, got me thinking.

How and why do we use the colour we use? What helps us make the decision to choose a specific colour?

I decided to delve into the colour palette and see how it affects the designs that I, and others, make when we open up InDesign and Photoshop everyday.

Colour within a logo or brand design is more important than typography and any other visual elements your brand has. Why? Well, colour has the ability to swing a person’s opinion or automated response to a brand or scenario.

Take, for example, a baby shower for a girl. What colour are you thinking of?

The mind instantly reaches to the pinks and pastels associated with female children. It is that automatic trigger in the brain that I, and other designers, work from when picking colour palettes for brands and projects.


What should also remember that colour perceptions, and what they each represent, differ around the world. A simple break down of colour from a Western standpoint alone looks like this:

  1. Red – Value, passion, love and energy

  2. Yellow – Joy, youth, summer and warmth

  3. Blue – Trust, calm, dependable and strength

  4. Green – Growth, nature, active, and health

  5. Black, White, Grey – Modernity, traditional, neutral, and clean

Therefore, any brand I work on must take onboard these cultural colourful distinctions we hold in our subconsciousness. However, there are some brands that are beginning to break the rules for some very rewarding reasons.


You would expect that when the Western colour ‘rules’ are broken or flexed, that they would fail to have the impact they desire. One charity that has spectacularly broken the rules, yet managed to deliver an incredibly effective campaign, is Race Against Dementia.

Their inspiration to use this shocking blue colour was charity founder, and three-times World Champion Formula One driver, Sir Jackie Stewart. As Director of creative agency Nissen Richards Studio, Pippa Nissen, explains:

“He [Sir Jackie Stewart] wants to shake up the polite and slightly apologetic world of dementia research. This was his racing colour, and in a way, it still is.”

“We used Pantone 2175. It’s a vibrant blue, and it buzzes with energy and challenge. It’s the last thing you’d expect from a charity dedicated to the terminally ill. But it’s right and it’s relevant.”


There are also points where colour theory goes a little too far. Here’s a classic example of how not to be too literal. Can you remember this campaign?

This article from Forbes explains some of the repercussions from Bic releasing it’s now infamous ‘for Her’ range which took a basic black pen and turned them into ‘cristal colours’. Bic considered this more appropriate for women due to the colour of the product. (I recommend reading some of the reviews on the article too!)


Working with brands, big and small, I have had to put these thoughts on colour into practice. This was the case recently with the East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network (EMCCAN).

They approached us, after completing work on their annual brochure and collateral, to create a brand for a large carnival tour that would take them across the UK.

Using their existing brand, my brief was to create something that encapsulated ‘festivals’ and ‘energetic scenes’ – and that included developing a colour palette that represented the carnival.


A rich purple for the background with a ‘mint’ teal to really lift the content off of the page. As well as thinking about These two colours not only reflected the colours of the carnival, but also added vibrancy to give the palette a festival feel.

I also added in a ‘peacock blue’ to add a twist to the branding as well as nodding towards the peacock-like head dresses to be worn by the Carnival Queens.


The t-shirt, and other collateral, has gone down a storm with both the client and the artists of the carnival. Above, you can see our very happy client Donna Fox (top right) wearing the t-shirt alongside two Olympians.

In fact, they’ve been so successful, they are ordering more as I write!


Colour is there to be exploited but it should be treated with caution as it is proven to change our mood and perception towards a brand.

One of our core values here at Katapult is ‘continuous curiosity’, and that can lead to some great creative use of colour for our client’s brand, website, brochure and any other assets they require.

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