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From Color to Brand

By: Jeff Falk, with contributions from Brian Budzynski and Kim Jednachowski
Posted: December 7, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • In order to translate a color concept into a successful plastic bottle, color must be defined by characteristics, each separated into chemistry that works with the layers to be built.
  • One of the most difficult things we do is interpret an idea of a color.
  • The success of a color in packaging comes down to a visual impression that leads to success of the brand.

The rate of very cool looking plastic bottles, with a rainbow of amazing colors and effects, hitting the shelves seems to be on a constant rise. It’s a scenario written about in these pages monthly. There are more and more brands with growing lines competing for less shelf space and less consumer cash. Though it’s easy to appreciate brand and supplier efforts realized in finished bottles, it’s also easy to take the importance of color and effects, and their impact on brand success, for granted. GCI magazine had a chance to spend a day working with Clariant ColorWorks at its McHenry, Illinois facility on a faux project, creating bottle colors (really, brand identity) for an imaginary shampoo and conditioner line.

Let’s Begin

Len Kulka, director, creative development, consumer packaging, ColorWorks, Clariant Masterbatches, and his team took on the challenge of creating brand impact through color and effect based on a favorite pair of shoes. Sounds weird, right? But these kind of inspirations happen all the time, and have led to some pretty successful brands. So, GCI magazine’s Kim Jednachowski offered up her favorite flats, and Kulka and team got to work.

To take full advantage of the visit, staff members sent Pantone reference color numbers ahead of time. Typically, brand owners and their design teams begin their work with ColorWorks by going through a color library and exploring color trend forecasts. But by the time we arrived on-site, work was underway.

Kulka had created a project name, Twitter Me, for an imaginary hair care brand—Timeless Radiance. The project brief noted that the shampoo and conditioner were for an upscale market, and intended to be a “friendly” option for colored hair. It was important that the color conveyed luxury and communicated an upscale impression on shelf.

The First Iteration