Now We Are 5...

Header design for new website. Design by Build. Built & Animated by Hungry Sandwich Club

Now we are 5.

We opened our doors in November 2012. We wanted to have the kind of shop folk would want to hang about in, find something they hadn’t seen anywhere else, pick up things that would inspire them and take home objects that would make them happy. Back then there was nothing much in Leeds that did that job and we put our heads and our meagre funds together and decided to make our dream shop a reality. We started the adventure with the design support of Si Billam, (Unit), then based in Leeds, now based in sunny Melbourne. It was an amazing experience turning our daydream into an actual thing and he was amazing, helping us push our boat out into the waters. Our initial identity (if you didn’t know) was born out of the idea of communication and print, letters, stationery & postal marks.


Our first flyer. Design by Unit November 2012

Our business plan at that time was to be able to pay the bills, make some friends, collect some amazing artwork and maintain a social and collaborative shop space, this all comes before just ‘being a shop’ because that really is the means to an end. We were knocked out by the love Leeds gave us in realising our idea.

So, this year we decided it was time to refresh our identity, say goodbye to the CMV wiggles and take some time out to think about where we are now, who we are, what we want to be going forward.

We wanted to take this journey with some of the friends that we have grown to love working with.

So... Who are we? How are we different from the day we opened our doors 5 years ago and why should we change our visual identity?

Well... we both set out to make something that was neither feminine or masculine. This might sound odd but we are both crate diggers and magpies but we both veer toward very different things. We agreed that design book shops could be very austere and unwelcoming, a bit spine on and aloof. We also agreed that design stores could be a bit cheesy, a bit novelty and we wanted neither of these things.

So... we wanted something welcoming, warm and friendly but inspiring and exciting. A shop you loved, but a place you would want to bring your mum into too and somewhere you would always find something new and unexpected. The name reflects this.

When we opened we had no idea we would be what we are today. We imagined a shop... A cool one, an ace one but we never imagined the space would grow like it has and that we would get to work with and showcase such amazing, talented characters that then became good friends. So we have changed. We aren’t just a shop anymore, we aren’t just design, we are masculine, feminine, design, craft and above all else... fun.

So we wanted our new identity to reflect this.

Packing up the first orders from our new website. Designed by Build and printed by Generation Press

Set of 4 Flyers. Designed by Build. Printed by Generation Press

Tote. Design by Build. Screen-printed by Printshop Leeds.

We have been incredibly lucky to work with both Build and Hungry Sandwich on both the new identity and our new website. We hope you will agree they have nailed it.
They completely understand our characters as well as our products, they totally get that we aren’t a too cool for school art book shop where you feel uncomfortable looking around, that we are passionate about great, elegant, functional design but that we also love colour and just really joyful stuff. We love what they do in their own practices and we have loved every minute of working with them both.


Our new wordmark, designed by Build.

Working with Build on the identity has been amazing, they really know what they are doing and have whipped us into shape. We absolutely know what we love but sometimes we aren’t able to articulate it when it comes to our brand. We are nearly always way too busy with the day to day running of the business to nurture it in the way they have. They have listened intently to everything we have talked about and gone above and beyond to create something we know we will love for years to come.

We have been best of friends with Hungry Sandwich Club since 2013. In February 2014 they installed a pretty tasty window display, showcasing their studio. They worked with us in 2015 on our Funland exhibition, designing the identity and again installing an amazing window but this time in 32 degree heat (there was a lot of ice cream)!  We also worked with them this time last year on our side project Typesetting. Alongside Josiah Craven, together we built what has grown into a wonderful archive of found typography in Leeds.

We knew that they would be able to take the incredible work of Build and make something utterly mesmerising! We think you will agree their work on the website is top. (Please take some time to sink into the animated headers) 

So where now? Well... This is chapter 1 in edition 2 of CMV. We hope to work with Build in the coming year on own brand stationery (if they can bear to work with us again!) and we will be beavering away making the shop better and better so it is able to support the event space. It hasn’t been an easy 5 years, for anyone thinking of opening a bricks and mortar shop it is a huge amount of work, some tears but a lot of laughing and in all honesty, we wouldn’t want to do anything else. The relationships we have built with you guys makes every bit of stress worthwhile, whether you are a customer, a supplier or have exhibited with us, we are still learning and growing every day and we know how bloody lucky we are to have met you all. Here’s to the next 5 years. Thanks for having us!

So now the website has launched we took some time out and caught up with Build to chat to them about the process of working with us...


How would you describe Colours May Vary?

Colours May Vary is a multitude of things- it isn’t just a shop. It’s a great space that is easy to spend time in, and enjoy; it’s a place to browse and indulge in good design and also to buy something that has been designed (and made) with love 

At the helm are two people who both clearly have a huge passion for what they do- Andy and Becky. 

So, designing an identity which encapsulates not only the unique products, prints and homewares that they stock but also their two personalities, was the starting point for the project .


How did you approach the design of the new identity?

We looked at female and male forms, and how they could be conveyed throughout the identity using colour, graphic shapes and forms, whilst not being overpowering or cliched! We created a set of shapes that include contrasting sharp sliced circles with bouncy, fun and friendly ‘donuts + sausages’. The shapes are interchangeable, and adaptable, much like the shop itself - in contrast to the logotype that they sit alongside, which is designed to be steady and timeless.


The balance of the classic wordmark and the organic, fluid colours and shapes seems to capture the mix of design, craft and joyful sensibilities of the brand. Tell us a bit more about the typeface.


The Colours May Vary logo was created using a bespoke typeface and unique to them, and is really characterised in the letter ‘R’- a combination of elegant sophistication but with a hint of imperfection and personality- a great reflection of the The Colours May Vary ethos! From those elements we’ve worked to create an array of Colours May Vary products such as tote bags, loyalty Cards, carrier bags, stickers, postcards, as well as a number of digital designs for their social presence and marketing materials.


You have fairly recently moved back to Yorkshire after a long stint in London. You work with some amazing International clients, what has it been like working with a small independent Leeds business?


Colours May Vary really is a hub for all creative do-ers/makers/builders in Leeds. They know everyone, and everyone knows them- which has been great whilst we have been working with them, for example it’s allowed us to meet and collaborate with local animators and website creators, Hungry Sandwich Club for the new CMV website — who we’re sure to with again in the future!

 It’s always great to work with a client who cares about the importance of design, and understands its value for their business (well, it is central to what they do, so no real surprises there!).

It was also great that they were comfortable with us giving an honest critique of their existing branding and discuss ways of making their marketing work better.  They were happy to take onboard advice and design guidance, rather than to dictate what they wanted. We’d like to think the outcome was a success and we cannot wait to see how Colours May Vary grow with their new identity and website! 


Check out Build and their previous and upcoming work here


Design by Build for their Blood-Sweat-11-Years Exhibition



Design by Build for the Sustainable Futures Exhibition at The Design Museum

Stay tuned for competition winners... A chat with The Hungry Sandwich Club and some misty eyed reminiscing from some of our favourite friends of CMV!