Using colour - colour-wheelHaving blogged last week that sometimes it’s best to take out the extraneous colour from a report, I now find myself working on one of the most multi-coloured reports I’ve ever seen – and it’s an absolute joy.

The report is for a client in a very graphically-minded industry sector  and so it really matters that it looks striking and professional. An in-house graphic designer has done some considerable preparation for the reporting. There is a colour palette consisting of ten distinct colours that are used for different sections of the report and different products. Each colour has ten different tones. So there are 100 different and distinct colours to choose from, and yet they all go together as they have been selected by someone who knows about colour theory and what goes with what. It’s a very powerful resource.

There is an attractive background which reflects the industry sector and contains graphics that go with all of the different palette colours, which are overlaid on top. Graduations are specified as well, so there is a great deal of consistency in the look and feel, even though a lot of colours are being used.

There are loads of images, representing brands, products and distribution channels – all in full colour. While the icons themselves are colourful, the charts next to them which contain the data tend to be in the neutral shades included in the palette – grey, with some colour coding to pick out the client brand. Within the individual sections, the background colour has been selected to complement the colours of the product image, as well as going with the overall background imagery. So once again you have colour variation and consistency all at once.

Image sizes are specified to be consistent within sections, but they vary between sections to best fit the space available. Over 40 different icons have been designed to match the look and feel of the report, and are available in neutral tones as well as several shades reflecting where they are found in the report. It’s great to look at but also neat and clear. There’s a lot of information but it doesn’t look cluttered because it’s been laid out carefully with spacing optimised, again by someone who knows how to optimise space!

The only thing it doesn’t have in it so far is real data. That’s on its way, so it will be interesting seeing how effective it is at communicating the research story. I expect it will be pretty effective.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into it and that represents and investment of time and money which can’t happen on every project. But if we are concerned about clients getting more out of the research they commission, investing a little time in project-specific graphic design at the outset is surely something that should happen more often.