Is your brand accidentally trendy? Here’s our story
It’s been a good year to be purple. Heck, it was even officially named the colour of the year.
Sure the Pantone colour of the year is technically Ultra Violet, but in the light of our own branding, we are happy to claim it (and assume our competitors are green with envy).
The last time we got so excited was back in 1999, when Pantone nominated Cerulean as “colour of the millennium”, with the optimistic hope that it would herald a new age in which “consumers will be seeking inner peace and spiritual fulfillment”.
According to Pantone, Ultra Violet (also known as Pantone 18-3838) is “complex and contemplative, suggesting the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now”. It suggests counter culture flair, they say, visionary thinking and originality.
Certainly that’s very colourful language, but is there any truth to talk about the meaning of colour, or is it just a little white lie?
The truth about colour psychology
Even though much of colour psychology has been debunked, it does play a very important part in brand and market positioning.
Colours are about feeling and association — and that is as much about cultural norms and context as actual psychology.
To someone living under the grey skies of London, tones of grey and silver might feel oppressive and depressing. In a blazing Perth summer, they might feel cool and welcoming.
When all your warning signs are red and black, or a yellow and black stripe, you’re more inclined to make that connection with the colour in a brand.
But colour theory is not all black and white.
It gets confusing when you realise that red roses are connected with love and romance, but red Ferraris are associated with wealth and speed.
It takes a bit of research, cultural awareness and finesse to choose and use colours in such a way that they create the associations you’re looking for.
So, although Pantone leans towards purple prose, the company is generally correct about the associations it expects people to draw from its colour of the year — which is one of the reasons why we chose purple as our brand colour, many years ago. The exact purple we chose is Pantone 268 and we liked it so much, we named this news site after it.
Pros and cons with following trends
Certainly, being an early adopter of latest fashions is useful for brands who want to be known for their cutting-edge style, cultural wherewithal, nimble nature and trendiness.
Yet fashion changes so frequently that you can be quickly outdated, unless you’re prepared to invest in regular revamps.
This makes more sense for consumer-facing brands to use with their marketing, not their core brand colours.
For most professional brands, changing your brand colour to match the colour of the year won’t win you any blue ribbons.
And unless the situation demands it, using it in your marketing will not mean a red-letter day. It’s much more important to find colours that embody what you want people to feel when they see your brand — excitement, confidence, danger, nostalgia or even ownership.
My advice? Find your true brand colours and stick with them. Then, hopefully, you can be as tickled pink as we were when you find out that you’re accidentally on trend.
Adam Elovalis is Cannings Purple’s Senior Graphic Designer, a relentless punner and – despite our corporate colour – a dyed-in-the-wool West Coast Eagles fan. Email Adam.
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