Many products, one look-how the big guys do it

How do you take a large number of diverse programs, all under the same brand, and make them unique, but cohesive? Adobe has done an amazing job of branding their stable of software programs, including favorites like InDesign, Illustrator, Quark, Flash, Dreamweaver, and of course, Photoshop.Throughout the years, the branding has been simple: Every application is made up of different elements — from Venus, magnifying glasses, paper airplanes and a cornucopia of random elements in the early 90s, to feathers, flowers and butterflies in the early 00s with the introduction of CS, to the colorful periodic table icons of today — unified by a unique stylistic approach, clearly evident over the years as the packaging has evolved. (source)

Just thought it was cool...

I'm presently on vacation in the Pacific Northwest, and will be heading out of Wi Fi territory, so postings may be spotty the next week or so.

Reader Dilemma-design with colors to convince me!

This just in from Fairfax in my fair city of Baltimore, Maryland.
This brochure is for a party we're doing in October for Woodbourne, a child welfare organization; it's sort of playing on the fact that we've been around for 210 years. The archive photographs from the 1920's and 1930's help convey the image of our long tradition of caring for children. We're getting ready to re-brand because our old colours are purple and teal (shocking, I know!). and we're re-doing all of our letterhead, website and such. Anyway, my colour question is, what do you think the forecasts are for the colors we used in the brochure, Pantone 1255 and 5767? Good/Bad?
Because nothing is simply for aesthetics sake, I asked for some additional information:

Q: Could you include a little bit about the message your company wants to send out about the business with this brochure?
A: We are not trying to attract clients, because they're referred to us by the State agencies. But we want donors to have a snapshot of what Woodbourne is doing these days. We went into bankruptcy in 2000 and emerged from it in 2003. But the old stigma remains. One of our board members is giving us a party next month, before we can do all of the re-branding, etc. and I need to have a quality piece to give to the guests.

Q: What is the image they want to project about themselves?
A: Two things: that we've been around since 1798, and that we're doing ground-breaking programs with the kids. Stuff that no-one else in Maryland is doing. Even though we're old, we're at the leading edge of care.

Q: Their mission?
A: The mission is to provide quality care for children, but it's more than that. It's to make the kids whole again and to give them skills that they can take with them to avoid trouble.

Q: Demographic, etc etc.
A: Basically, the clients are 80% black city boys. There are some younger kids at one of the programs, but the long-term program is all boys between 12 and 18. The donor demographic is mostly white suburban and older. We've not made any effort to get new donors in the past couple of years because we've been too busy righting the boat, so to speak.

Q: Will the rebranded colors be the two pantone colors you noted before?
A: I don't think that the new colours will be these colours. We've only started meeting with the PR company to sort this out.

So, based on that additional information, so you think Fairfax's color choices were successful in conveying her company's message? I'm opening the floor to you all before I weigh in, so let's help Fairfax nail this brochure!

Busy being artsy

It seems I have reached the age where all my friends are having babies. As I prefer to give personalized gifts that have more longevity than say, a diaper genie, I go back to my fine arts background for present ideas. This past week, I was busy creating colorful pieces for two mother-to-be friends. I'm going to a shower for one of them this week, and then on vacation, so my posts might be a little scattered 'til I get back.For the teddy bear on the left, I asked my friend for a photo of favorite toy from when she was a child. Luckily, she still had the stuffed animal, "Little Bear", that started its journey with her when she was just an infant.The babie's room is painted a soft blue with lavender accents, so I thought a glowing yellow bear would stand out nicely.

The other art piece was a customized alphabet, inspired by print my friend found on a baby website. We brainstormed images that had meaning to the couple, and stuck those in where they fit. "S" is for San Francisco cable car, since they got married in San Francisco. "P" is for Golden Pig, since this is the year of the golden pig, when their baby is born. This friend's nursery is lavender, so she asked for a purple, orange, and green color scheme.

People are always more brave with color choices when it comes to children's rooms, so I went to town with bright colors.

Just wanted to share!

White showcase for September

My latest installment of the color series is up over at decor8!
This month's showcased color is white. Talk about a challenging article to write. Do you recall my coloring book contest, where readers were challenged to infuse an all-white space with personality? I have rather strong opinions on doing away with white's over-use, so I really had to work hard to embrace all that white has to offer. But it was a great exercise in learning to look at something in a different light.

How do you feel about white? Do you use it a lot in your home? How does it make you feel when you are surrounded by it?

Subculture adopts peculiar color scheme

There's something between a subculture and a social class in England that has sprouted up, called "Chav", a new breed of working class thug.

The most popular element of the Chav uniform is the Burberry plaid cap. I don't know about you, but taupe, white, rust and beige doesn't say "gangsta culture" to me. Evidently, England use to have laws that persecuted someone for dressing above their "station" in life. Presumably it is status that Chavs are looking for when they snap up anything and everything emblazoned with the plaid.
image source
"It’s the consumer who wears the product that makes the new subculture. Burberry is a popular brand of hip-hop artists, just like Cadillacs. In the end, brand meaning can change as quickly as the person or group of people wearing it." source

Thanks to reader David for the tip!

Playing textile designer

Have you ever felt like the rug options out there are just too limited for what you envisioned on your floor? Enter modular carpet tiles and area rugs-so much fun!
Kelley wrote in to tell me about Flor where you can customize to your hearts delight. They've got soft understated neutrals, bright energetic primaries, and everything in between.

Their rug descriptions are equally entertaining:
House Pet
Look: Think faux mohair, looking more like a sweater than a rug.
Whiskery, like a wire-haired terrier.
Be Smart:
Highly durable, doesn’t show dirt and is easy to clean. Plus, it goes practically anywhere — living rooms, family rooms, playrooms, and obediently mixes with a whole litter of other FLOR styles — hey, it’s FLOR’s #1 for a reason.
This website also has an excellent article by my fellow IACC-NA colleague, Jill Pilaroscia, about color in office spaces. A must read!

What you can learn from M&M's about branding your business

M&M's candy knows how to use color to sell. The colorful little chocolates now have their own retail store in the middle of Times Square, NYC. For some, it's Candy Land come to life. For marketers and branding color consultants like myself, it's an excellent example of how a company took its brand colors and created an entire environmental experience with them.
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Chute Gerdeman, the company commissioned to design this gigantic 25,000 square foot world of chocolate, was challenged to use only the "sacred six" colors of M&M's. The design team taped each color M&M to a corresponding Pantone chip, and then matched the colors to Sherwin Williams paint. Want to paint a wall an exact M&M color? Here's the scoop:
Red: Stop (SW 6869)
Orange: Invigorate (SW 6886)
Yellow: Cheerful (SW 6903)
Green: Envy (SW 6925)
Blue: Blue Chip (SW 6959)
Brown: Brevity Brown (SW 6068)

Anywhere black would normally have been used, black, deep rich brown was substituted to drive home the point of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. (French Roast: SW 6069, for those of you who want to know which -exact- shade they picked) I feel a chocolate craving kicking in, just writing about it. Extra White (SW 7006) was the specific white the design team determined had absolutely no color cast, to make sure all the M&M colors popped.
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It's all about taking the essence of your business message, translating that into color, then utilizing that palette for all it's worth. By reinforcing M&M's classic candy colors over and over and again, Mars Inc. is able to completely immerse the consumer in the brand experience.

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Anyone for the "world's biggest wall of chocolate"? Two stories of chocolate filled tubes, covering a massive 50 by 22 feet, tempts customers to create customized mixes of colors.
... retail-tainment", so to speak.

Are any of you readers small business owners? How do you reinforce your message to your customers and clients? Any shop owners out there? How do you use color to sell? And if you just enjoy shopping certain places, how aware are you of the color concepts being utilized?

via source

Reader Dilemma-designers, this one's for you!

This week's reader dilemma comes from Anouk in the Netherlands. She's just moved into an old house, and has some color questions about her living room/dining room space. And FYI, she's not afraid to use color. So, all you budding armchair designers, this one is for you. I encourage everyone to take a stab at suggestions for Anouk; let's see what we can come up with!
I will be replacing most of my furniture during the coming months (nearly all my furniture are old hand-me-downs), and I would really like your help for the colour scheme.

I want to get a warm, yet fresh atmosphere with some older and some newer furniture. I like old wood combined with newer designs. The colour scheme I'm thinking about is off-white (walls, woodwork, curtains), green (accent wall) combined with brown wood (don't know which hues) and orange as an accent. I just don't know how to combine these retro touches with the old wood and with the freshness I'd like to achieve....

Some questions:
  1. What wood colour would be best for my dining room table? I'd like to go for a natural tone, but can't decide between dark or light wood. What colour for the dining chairs?
  2. I really like orange as an accent colour, do you think it would be a good idea to have two chairs upholstered in orange leather?
  3. Which other accent colours would fit? I'm not afraid of a more "risky" colour scheme.
  4. What do you think about the curtains? They are very very neutral - are they a keeper?
Your help will be very much appreciated! -Anouk
Anouk's light, airy space, with beautiful wooden pitch pine floors that she sanded and oiled with white wash. With the exception of the accent wall, the walls are off-white, as are the curtains.
Furniture she is keeping: the greenish cupboard in the corner (could be repainted if necessary) and this oak cabinet
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This is the sofa she just bought, in a medium warm brown tone.

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Retro cool chairs and a table she likes. How would you pull these two style together?

image sources: top, bottom
Inspiration rooms she likes, to give us a better feel for her taste.

Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order:

A few comments on wood:
People often forget that all wood does not go together. Each type of wood variety has a different undertone, which is important to keep in mind when purchasing furniture. For instance, take a look at the colors of the new oak cabinet shown against the white washed pine floor. So, it's important to keep in mind the color of the wood in each piece, as otherwise, it will get very busy and disjointed pretty quickly. Select a variety of wood in a consistent stain, and stick with it for the space.

So much about choosing colors is determining the mood you want to set in a space.
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For instance, here's an example of light colored table and chairs against light wood and a green wall, for an ethereal, airy feeling.

image source (I added the green wall for demonstration purposes)
Versus this. A darker table and chairs with a deep orange or red undertone for the dining room has a very different look, contrasting against the light flooring and the green wall, for a more grounded feeling.

I might also bring in some colorful area rugs to define each living space and tie together any accent colors used in the room.

More about accent colors- if orange is the favorite color, then I say, go for it! Upholstered chairs in orange sounds fantastic. The combination of orange and lime green is certainly an energetic pair. To round it out, violet could be brought in to create a secondary color scheme. Or blue, for a variation on that theme. Green, orange, and chocolate brown are also nice.

And as for the neutral curtains, with such saturated color in the accent wall, and the plans for orange chairs, beige curtains just don't hold up to the lively nature of the other pieces in the room. For the really adventurous, what about something ala Designers Guild?
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Need more inspirations? Check out Finn Juhl a Danish furniture designer. These rooms might help with how to tie everything together. (thanks to decor8 for the tip)

With all these choices, what do you think would work best for Anouk? I can't wait to hear all your wonderful suggestions-don't be shy, please share your thoughts!

British with a twist

Pimm's, a UK brand of alcoholic beverages, has gone to great lengths to define the message they want to promote about their product, and the demographic of drinkers they hope to target.
Notice the consistent use of red throughout all their marketing collateral. Perhaps to associate with the drink's dark tea colour that has a reddish tint? For the summer drinks, it's paired with a ripe fresh green, and for the winter product, warming orange is incorporated. Maybe also to associate with the orange peel that is added to the drink?

Over the years, the company has worked very hard to shake off the reputation of being a drink for only gentlemen.
Pimm's was voted as a Superbrand by experts in the UK. Through a long- standing association with outdoor summer events, it encapsulates a quintessential British charm that has contributed to its reputation as one of the UK’s most popular summer drinks; "Anyone for Pimm's"?

Pimm's Winter, a brandy based liquor, is marketed with distinctive orange packaging (to denote a warming glow) instead of the familiar Pimm's No.1 Cup red, a traditionally summer drink.
Here's the company's desired message, or in marketing speak, "brand values":
The essence of Pimm's is that perfect summer feeling: the sun on your face, sharing time with friends and spending as much time as possible outdoors. Its personality is young and optimistic with a view that life is made for celebrating and every day should be marked as an occasion. Throughout a long and colourful history, Pimm's has remained true to its British heritage while still creating a contemporary freshness that has expanded its modern day appeal and increased the brand awareness. Its target audience now covers a wide range of ages and backgrounds, not a definitive ‘type’ or social class.
Anyone reading this in the UK, is Pimm's a big deal over there, or is this just the image they want to promote?

all images from Pimm's