Adding some spice to color trends

A behind-the-scenes look at how we use color research in our various businesses

You may be familiar with our Color of the Year announcements. But did you know our businesses use the global research behind each annual selection in different ways?

It starts out as a collaborative process, as the lifestyle and color trends are defined. Then it all comes down to inspiring the customer, which involves simultaneously translating the findings into specific offerings for each market.

So while our Decorative Paints business was planning to launch Spiced Honey as the Color of the Year for 2019, some of our other businesses were using the same research as the basis for their own new color ranges. That’s because once the “mood of the moment” has been captured, everyone starts to add their own creative spin and develop palettes that fit the hottest trends for their own particular markets.

In the case of our Deco business’ Color of the Year, it has to go to the lab first, where our experts create various special effects that our customers want in their coatings. The name often changes as well. So if you put Decorative Paints’ Spiced Honey next to Specialty Coatings’ Luminous Honey, they will look a little different – even though they’re both the Color of the Year. But that’s by design, so that our customers can achieve the exact effect they’re looking for.

For example, our Automotive and Specialty Coatings business’ yearly design collection Color Surfaces (which focuses on materials and finishes, such as gloss levels and effect pigments) follows consumer trends before being translated into new colors and styles.

“We each translate the outcomes into our own product groups,” explains Heleen van Gent, Creative Director of our Global Aesthetic Center. “We first discuss the global trends that will influence the way our customers work and live, then translate this research into paint colors and palettes. Because we’re looking at lifestyle trends, they can be applied across all areas of the company.”

Adds Rob Haley, Color Trends Manager for our Wood Coatings business: “A unified color story across AkzoNobel definitely helps each of our businesses successfully launch and leverage their own stories of trending color in the markets we serve. For example, we’re using the new palettes to create two-toning effects, weathered finishes, metallic touches and on-trend vintage looks.” The Global Color Studio has over 300 years of combined wood coatings experience. “Our highly trained technical service team works closely with the Wood Design team to insure our finishes are robust and can be industrialized across the globe.”

It’s a similar situation for Stephie Sijssens, Color Design Manager for our Automotive and Specialty Coatings business. “We have a global design team of industrial designers, graphic designers, technical experts and a dedicated group of colorists,” she says. “What’s important in our markets are gloss level, tactile aspects and effect pigments, such as pearl or metallic, which you see being reflected in our palettes.”

Our Powder Coatings business also uses trend research, although in a slightly different way, because their trend research and colors are published every four years (as Collection Futura) rather than annually.

Continues Van Gent: “It’s all about matching the right colors, with the right effects, on the right surfaces, for the right customers – so they can feel confident and on trend with their color choices.”

For more information about the 2019 Color of the Year, visit Colour Futures or follow #CF19 on social media.