Colour of the Year 2018

11th January 2018

As we launch into the new year and many of us think of resolutions and fresh starts, it’s a good time for some to look at their corporate identity too. But, of all the decisions to be made when considering a change, the most pressing is often what colour it should be.

Ever helpful, Pantone have announced their colour of the year for 2018: Ultra Violet. As the name implies, it’s purple – and quite a contrast from last year’s choice, called Greenery. And if last year’s shade “bursts forth… to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment.” then this year’s apparently “suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead”.

Intriguing as that may sound, people often associate the notion of mysticism or spirituality in relation to purple. Pantone themselves invoke musical artists such as Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix – appropriate enough as purple is also considered to be the colour of mourning in some countries. But, dead rockstars aside, it tends to be seen as quite a vibrant colour – often regal too. Some may prefer the more comfortable association of a nice bar of Dairy Milk, however.

Is it a good choice for your branding? It might well be – it’s certainly a striking hue, which should grab the attention. Its regal overtones might also lend a touch of class to your brand, or to certain products. When choosing colours, though, it’s also important to think about pairing them together and the connotations that may have – yellow and black, for instance, is traditionally the colour scheme of danger, hence it’s use on hazard warnings (and wasps). One should also consider how a colour will look at different tints – tints being shades of a colour, using the same ink but at a lesser coverage, which is normally expressed as a percentage. For instance, a bright red may descend to a slightly washed out pink when used at 50%.

Don’t forget to also check and see if other brands are using that combination of colours. It’s not necessarily a problem if they do, but if the brand association is very strong for those colours, then it will lessen the impact of your own branding. You may think that orange and blue will set you apart from the crowd, but if your potential audience just thinks of Irn-Bru when they see it, then its success will be somewhat limited.

Distinctiveness is important, though. With that in mind (and returning to our original topic), it’s worth noting that purple shades aren’t actually particularly widespread in branding. Some would say that this is why they’re used to promote vibrancy and individualism, and it’s certainly a bold choice. Perhaps it could be just what your brand needs in the new year.

Pantone’s Laurie Pressman says of the colour of the year “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” But if you feel that what’s needed in the world today doesn’t necessarily relate all that well to your own brand identity, you can always do your bit by reaching for that bar of Dairy Milk.


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