Choosing product colours with Laura Perryman

Discover a fresh perspective on colour and materials.

The color bible: a guide to selecting the right colors for your brand and products.

When it comes to color, Laura Perryman is (quite literally) the expert.

As a Colour, Materials, and Finish (CMF) designer and consultant, trend forecaster, and author of ‘The Colour Bible’, she’s been helping businesses create better colour experiences for over 15 years.

Throughout her career, Laura has consistently highlighted the transformative power of colour, from textile weaving to the creation of colour palettes for brands and products. Her book, ‘The Colour Bible’, encourages designers and artists to make colour a focal point in their work – not just for its visual appeal, but also for its ability to evoke emotions, set the mood, and even transform lives.  

Laura Perryman sitting on desk
Image credit: Eric Oliveira

In 2022, we worked with Laura to create a new set of product colours for our Water Bottles and Notebooks. Read on to discover more about how Laura’s worked with our product team and learn how to get to grips with colour for your own products. 

Colour defines (and refines) us

Colour is not just a visual element; it has the power to influence our thoughts, decisions, and emotions. And when it comes to product design, choosing the right colour(s) is a big decision.  

“Colours have connotations and colour semiotics that are embedded in them. We are surrounded by colours that have unique characteristics. For example, green is naturally verdant and has fresh, nourishing qualities. Similarly, black is not just a single colour, it has a range of tones and depths to choose from. It is still considered a traditional luxury colour and personifies sleekness, premium, and neutrality”, Laura told us. 

To solidify our own commitment to beautiful branded merchandise, it was important for us to work with a colour expert. Laura’s guidance helped us narrow down colours that would look stunning in the physical world.

She worked closely with our product team to identify key expressions of the MOO brand – in other words, what we stand for. These expressions were then translated into a variety of colour shades. “To find inspiration for the colours, we explored cultural design trends and sought ways to embody MOO’s design principles”, said Laura.

Toby Hextall, Director of Product Design here at MOO, added; “Colour is so subjective. Everyone has their own biases and thoughts about colour. An expert can digest the needs of your business, cut through some of the historical baggage, and set up something that’s fresh and considered. Laura took ‘Great Design for Everyone’, flipped it, and said ‘What does Great CMF Design for everyone look like?’”

Color wheel for product selection
Exploring product colouring for MOO

The process of selecting the right colours 

Laura organised MOO colour inspirations both digitally and physically, grouping them by trend, colour family, and brand category areas. Which streamlined the process for our team, making it easier to digest all the options and their suitability.

 “Since the colour palette was specifically for physical products, it was important to select colours that were in line with materials and application processes. We also considered that colour is transformed by finish and surface, and made sure to have a strong palette that could develop a visual connection across print, plastics, powder coating, and paper”, she explained. 

Color palette and color combinations for MOO branded accessories
Colour palette and colour combinations for MOO branded accessories

Felix Ackermann, our Lead Product Designer, told us; “It’s a balancing act between having colours that are classic and evergreen but also having a palette that’s ownable. And that our customers can also use as a blank canvas for customisation. Our goal was to provide an exciting and sustainable colour offering for both our customers and our business”.

The outcome? 19 custom colour palettes and combination guidelines, offering (you and us) choice and flexibility.

Colour in 2024

We decided to pick Laura’s brain further and asked her some questions about colour trends for 2024. 

How do you think brands will use colour in 2024?

“Understanding trends and cultural shifts is crucial to determine which colours will be relevant. Instead of just thinking about basic colours such as ‘red’, it is important to consider more specific shades like ‘soft reds’ or ‘deep rust reds’. 

Various factors such as ecology, the cost of living crisis, and advancements in AI can all influence colour choices, aesthetics, and visual communication. In our studio, we focus on topics and track how and why colours change and the sentiment behind them.

Color wheel made by Laura, showcasing different items for each color.
Image credit: Laura Perryman

When it comes to colour and materials, I believe in being mindful and conscious of our approach. Sustainability and emotional qualities are key considerations in the design briefs that we work on. We give priority to helping our clients make sustainable and circular choices for colours and materials. 

“While no colour is completely off the table, it’s important to choose the right colour for the market, consumer, and product’s life cycle”.

This approach naturally acts as a filter for the colour spectrum, but it aligns with our responsibility for a sustainable future. I approach colour development with the mindset that colour relevance is key rather than just colour trends. While no colour is completely off the table, it’s important to choose the right colour for the market, consumer, and product’s life cycle. We do consider colour trends and different shades of colours while keeping the bigger picture in mind”.

Is Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year’ still relevant?

Pantone’s Colour of the Year is a significant tool for various industries. Interior paint companies have been using it as a colour strategy method to focus on a single colour while showcasing its relevance in the market.

The nature of the Colour of the Year, including its vibrancy, lightness, or neutrality, is more important than the colour itself. Last year’s Pantone shade, Viva Magenta, was a powerful and bold colour, which we have seen set the tone for colour at the same vibrancy level. 

The selection of colours is influenced by social, cultural, technological, and political events. The new Peach Fuzz colour – a bright pastel with a soft warm chroma is perhaps a kickback to the doom and gloom of the current cultural climate. However, it offers a sense of softness in colour that is more forgiving, which is perhaps what we need at this moment”.

The color bible by Laura Perryman

5 tips for product colour selection

Looking for some tangible takeouts to inspire your next product colour palette? Here’s a rundown of Laura’s top 5 ways to use colour for your products.

1.  Use colour semiotics 

Make sure you have a clear understanding of your product’s or range’s core expression. Brainstorm keywords that describe your product’s personality, such as optimistic, playful, approachable, techy, soft, natural, elegant, innovative, easy, human, etc. Use these keywords to guide your colour selection.

Analyse visual images, like art pieces, and identify key colours. Find or create colour references to match them.

3. Pay attention to the perception of form

For example, lighter and warmer tones make a form feel more approachable and friendly, while darker and cooler tones are more forgiving to wear and tear and are perceived as more professional.

4. Start simple  

Remember that end products will likely have more than one colour, and ranges need multiple shades.

5. Consider the detail 

Colour is a powerful tool that can help sell products. Think about where you want to draw attention and if there are any features you want consumers to see or interact with.

Inspired for your next project? Don’t forget we’re here to help. Simply fill in your details below and a member of our team will be in touch to talk about your project

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