3 September 2014

Never Use That Colour Again: Design Lessons from Football

With huge sorrow for rugby fans around my country, the Italian football league has finally started. As always, with a bit of delay compared to the other major leagues, but here we are again ready for another exciting season. 

This year, an interesting fact happened during the pre-season. Never before the Juventus fans complained so much about their team’s shirts. What they found improper was the colours of names and numbers. I have to say they weren’t wrong at all. The Italian defending champions came up with a rather controversial colour choice this time: white background with yellow names and numbers. With these colours, recognising the players was as easy as climbing the Everest.
Even the UEFA asked Juventus to solve the problem. As a consequence—after a pre-seanson where the team continued to play with the orinal colour choice—just a few days before the league started they finally sorted this out by changing yellow with black. 

Design failure

Who’s fault was that? The colour choice was not made by Nike, Juventus main sponsor. It was made by Stilscreen. This is not the first example of a design failure, here is a funny list you can entertain yourself with. There are many others on the web. Had Stilscreen thought twice before making this decision, fans wouldn’t have complained that much. 

Likely—when it comes to colour—there are some simple concepts we can all refer to, no matter what we do in our lives. Whether you are a company designing football shirts, an employee making a presentation to your colleagues, an entrepreneur pitching investors, a developer designing a website, understanding the basic principles of Colour Theory is of great importance. Here and here you find everything you need to know in order to avoid a design failure like the one Juventus went through. Colour Theory helps us make the best decisions when it comes to combining colours.

In our example, it was obvious that because yellow and white are both light colours, it would have been hard to make numbers and names stand out. That doesn’t mean that a white background only goes with black names. However, if you want to make your design visible, it is always good practice to follow one of these two combinations:
  • Light background and dark elements

  • Dark background and light elements  

This is not something only related to football and shirt design. It has a lot to do with presentation design as well. How often have you found yourself unable to see a slide because of an improper colour choice? By reading the two resources I gave you above, you’ll acquire the knowledge you need to properly work with colours. You’ll learn about the colour wheel, some basic colour combinations and a great tool specifically created for non-designers.

I have to admit I was one of the furious Juventus fans, so I’m glad they corrected the gaffe and am now ready for another super season, hoping that it will go the same way as last year.      

If you’d like to chat more about how to effectively use colour, click over to Google+