Colour systems used in corporate and product design and how to cross reference between them.
other colour systems
The Virgin Little Red Book illustrates how corporate colours are specified for a wide variety of applications - including print, buildings, uniforms and transport. They might be defined by any of the well known colour systems: British Standard, RAL, Pantone - or NCS.
BS 10B15 - This is a typical British Standard number. When we talk about British Standard or BS, in this context, it's BS4800 we mean. What you see here is a typical trade paint card together with the British Standard fanbook. BS 4800 was last published in 1989 and is a colour range specifically for paint. It's a good colour range, and is well suited to buildings, but has only one hundred colours. It dates from before computerized tinting for paint, to a time when manufacturers made and merchants stocked all these colours in a range of products.
You'll see from the British Standard fanbook that the colours are split up into A, B, C, D and E sections according to greyness, with the E section being the cleanest and brightest. The samples in the fanbook are a good size to work with, about 40 x 50mm, and it's possible to buy individual A6 sheets from the British Standards Institution. While corporate colours often need to be sourced internationally, British Standard is really only used in the United Kingdom and old Commonwealth countries. Many British manufacturers reference their products to BS 4800, and virtually all paint manufacturers offer the full range of colours.
RAL 9001 - Here's a typical RAL Classic reference. The RAL numbers correspond with colour groups and yellows start with one, orange with two, reds with three and so on. RAL also includes some metallic colours. There are about 200 colours in all.
RAL is also a colour range for paint and coatings. This is another typical trade paint card, showing the RAL Classic range, together with a RAL fanbook. RAL is a German range developed in 1927 and is widely used for architectural work, particularly by powder coating companies. You can see that the colour range is not designed for interiors.
|100 60 60 - There is a newer colour collection called RAL Design. The RAL Design numbers represent hue, lightness and chroma. The hues run from red 010 to red 360. The RAL Design colours are presented in an atlas with one page per hue and about 1700 colours in total. Some product manufacturers in the UK reference their colours to RAL Design, particularly those who are based in Germany or have a big market there. There is no link between the two RAL ranges.|
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RAL is a registered trademark of RAL gGmbH.