How the Dulux ColourFutures initiative is helping tradespeople

How the Dulux ColourFutures initiative is helping tradespeople

The Dulux ColourFutures initiative is helping tradespeople communicate interior décor concepts to their clients. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones finds out more.

Adopting an optimistic outlook for the year ahead is not going to do us any harm and Dulux is certainly doing its bit with its nominated Colour of the Year for 2022. Bright Skies is described as a transformative blue that can breathe life into any space. Every year, the decorating giant devotes considerable resources to engage with global design trends in its search for a shade that captures the prevailing mood, and it is an initiative which is indicative of the obvious importance of colour to the paint industry.

It is, of course, the primary consideration for any homeowner, and can be a choice that can cause much anxiety, but are tradespeople offering their clients the right level of support in the decision? Dulux is empowering decorators to do just that, and Nicola Holmes is charged with their instruction through the manufacturer’s ColourFutures courses. “We want to give tradespeople the confidence to help their customers,” enthuses the Skills Development Consultant – Colour and Design at Akzo Nobel, “and we’re doing it through a whole range of tools, as well as in-person tuition and online resources.”

When lockdown first brought the shutters down on society in March 2020, Dulux eagerly embraced digital technologies as a vehicle to connect with its trade and consumer customers and, as Nicola explains, the response was hugely encouraging. “We made a significant amount of training and product material available via the internet, which allowed us to communicate with those who were already interacting with us regularly, but we also developed a new and wider audience. Last year’s Colour of the Year was launched for the first time on a digital platform, for instance, and it allowed a lot of decorators to get involved. It demonstrated a real appetite amongst people in the industry to engage with design ideas, and we launched ColourFutures™ live sessions as a result. With the Covid restrictions easing it has evolved into some very popular face-to-face sessions conducted at the Dulux Academy within a dedicated colour studio.”

Nicola believes that colour is not something that should be left to the client and that engaging with the subject has tangible business benefits: “Some decorators are apprehensive about broaching the issue of colour to customers because they feel they don’t know enough about it, but demonstrating that ability could well make for a point of difference with the competition, and that’s the principle behind our courses. Tradesmen and women are obviously practical people and the best way to learn is to get hands on. We encourage the attendees to create mood boards and combine different shades. The Academy allows them to work with a variety of substrates, from wallpaper to plaster and wood, developing an appreciation of sheen levels, and exploring what effect each might have on the finish. Natural lighting, and the position of windows is discussed, as well as the huge range of artificial lighting that’s now available and how a paint is perceived as a result. It’s important for the decorator to find out if there are plans to change the lighting in a room after they’ve painted, for instance.”

Anyone in the building trades will know that communicating with a client is key to any project’s successful completion. That’s certainly true of something as personal as a choice of colour, and that’s the starting point for Nicola and the ColourFutures team. “It’s imperative that decorators have an understanding of what ambience the customer is looking to create,” she continues, “and the importance of listening can’t be underestimated. There are few key questions that can start the conversation and are fundamental to getting it right: Who is going to be using the space? If it’s for a child, for example, how old are they? What time of day is the room likely to be occupied? How a colour is perceived can change significantly during the course of a day and, if they’ve made their choice in the morning, have they considered how it might look in the evening? Wet samples are invaluable, and a good trick is to paint the proposed shade onto the back of a wallpaper sample and put it in different locations around the room at different times.”

“Careful consideration should also be given to how the room is going to be used. Will it be an area for relaxing or a home office? When they visit a new or prospective client we encourage decorators to take in the style that’s already evident in the property. Do they want the new décor to break with that or connect, and what fixtures and fittings are already in the space? Kitchen units, sofas and curtains can be changed as easily as the paint scheme and need to be taken into account.”

Moreover the types of paint being used, and the differences in finish that a vinyl matt, gloss or Satinwood can achieve, are integral to design considerations. In this context the expertise of a professional painter is invaluable in guiding the homeowner to the right choice. The Dulux Visualiser App allows a colour to be picked from anywhere, with the nearest shade in the manufacturer’s portfolio then sourced, and an immediate impression of how that will appear on a wall generated on a smartphone or tablet. The Mood Board App can help clients combine colours in an overall scheme, and the recently updated Dulux Trade Expert app also offers colour visualiser technology. “Customers will appreciate a decorator being honest with them and giving them the benefit of their experience,” concludes Nicola. “What our ColourFutures course provides is the knowledge and insight for them to do just that.”

ColourFutures exists online is a 45-minute session, whilst the course delivered at the Academy is a half-day duration.

For further information on the Dulux ColourFutures course visit

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