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Premises design: Less is more in choosing the colour of your pharmacy

The best retail pharmacies have visual energy and impact, a professional image, operational efficiency, and a distinct and engaging visit experience for the customer.

A key element of their designs is colour. It is one of the first things to be noticed in a pharmacy and the one that can have the greatest emotional impact on people.

In pharmacies, its use can extend well beyond the traditional choice of varying shades of greens and blues that are much in evidence.  So long as they are carefully and professionally handled, a wide variety of colours can come into the frame.

When we’re preparing a colour scheme as part of a total design for a client, it’s essential for the purpose of proper analysis and creative stimulation to focus our minds on a diverse range of matters.

It’s a process in which we set out to know and learn as much as we can about the ambitions of the pharmacy’s business, its ethical to retailing ratio, whether it is to have a contemporary or traditional setting, its competitors and other adjacent retailers, and the potential customer/patient profile.

The core aim is the creation of a welcoming, distinctive, unique, and high-impact environment. It has to have a feel-good factor, broad customer appeal  plus visual imagery and a co-ordinated colour scheme that suggests and helps to promote health and well-being.

One challenge we face constantly is dealing with the paradox of balancing the creation of a calming clinical care environment with that of a stimulating retail environment.

Independent community pharmacies expect a refit to last at least 10 years, unlike some other retailers that operate on a shorter life-span. It is essential, therefore, to create a co-ordinated colour scheme that will remain relevant and fresh for this period. It needs to have an enduring quality about it and sometimes, ultra-modern schemes may be here today, but gone tomorrow.

The Dollar Rae designers also have to be able to combine colours in such a manner that few colours provide the greatest impact. With the inclusion of too many colours or shades, you’ll find that each vies with the others for the centre of attention and can create a confusing picture.

In combination with creative graphics, imagery, signage and lighting, the professional use of colour is an ingredient that can help create an attractive overall ambience  and, in turn, a pleasurable and memorable  experience for the customer.  It also plays a significant role in creating a professional identity and image for the business.

With pharmacy design increasingly being expressed in natural, environmentally friendly  materials such as wood, stone, glass, mirror and steel, there is a greater need to bring in a warmer,  brighter colour here and there to set against the neutral tones and add some impact, vibrancy and sales stimulus.

Variety or colour contrast can be introduced, often with dramatic effect, through the graphics, signage and imagery, through graduated and accent colours or through neon illumination that changes colour regularly and almost imperceptibly.  

A stronger complementary colour can be used to make a feature, for example, of specific items such as the medical counter, a merchandising sector, the waiting area seating, or the information displays of a healthy lifestyle section as the photographs in this article illustrate.

Colour top tips

  • Induce a buying mood among customers
  • Capture customers attention and highlight what’s important
  • Introduce vitality and a feel-good factor
  • Inject the vital bite or punch so necessary in a tough economic climate and a hotly competitive marketplace
  • Boost staff productivity and welfare
  • Clearly distinguish and differentiate it from the competition and other local retailers
  • Serve as one of the branding signals to express and  communicate what the pharmacy is about

John Hilditch, managing director of Dollar Rae, pharmacy design and development specialists 47 Haggs Road, Glasgow G41 4AR, telephone 0141 649 9331

Citation: Community Matters URI: 11095793

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