Maybe there's a reason that blue is the #1 choice for corporate branding and identity, as many hope to cash in on the intrinsic belief that blue represents constancy, quality and achievement. They're probably out there, but we've rarely met a male executive who didn't like blue.
While colors are trending towards bright, vivid hues, the hard-working neutrals—white, gray, black, and brown—have a staying power because of their flexibility. They might not be your favorite color, they don't tend to steal the show, they aren't usually even noticeable, but they are the bedrock of strong design.
It’s official. The 2017 color of the year is green, according to Pantone, the color experts who have been surveying world trends for decades to determine which color best captures the global moods of the day.
Pantone describes this year’s color, officially called Greenery, as a “zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.”
Green has long served in fluid roles ranging from calming neutral to vibrant virtuoso—and it pairs beautifully with many other colors.
It may reflect a desire for balance in a modern world, appealing to the human yearning to experience the beauty of nature. It also suggests vitality, rejuvenation, and growth—all attributes humans are drawn to quite likely because they suggest hope.
When we choose colors for a creative project, we use color theory to evoke certain brand attributes that fit our client’s visual strategy. Green has often been our choice when we want to evoke healing, calm, peace, growth, vitality, and freshness. As the most restful color for the human eye, its pervasiveness in nature makes it a color with broad acceptance across demographics. And as is always the case, the shades of green evoke different nuances.
Here are two examples of how we used greens to convey freshness in Key Technology’s annual report. As an international manufacturer of innovative food processing equipment, they make it possible for companies to deliver fresher food products.
Expect to see more of this color in fashion, products, and graphic design in the year ahead.
We like their choice this year, but what do you think? Is this a color you’d be happy to see more of?
Colors create a reaction in our brain, and yellow, more than any other, gets noticed. It’s the color to use if you want to get someone’s attention—particularly when paired with high contrast colors like black type.
But like all colors, it has its place. According to Print, you’re less likely to see it on apps and websites than book covers, taxis and caution signs. It signals anything from cheery to danger, so has to be used with care.
But on a shelf of books, your eye will surely move first to the yellow ones, which may be why yellow is having a resurgence in book covers.
Can you see yellow being used in your company?
Image Source: Print Magazine
For those of you who like to track design trends, Pantone has announced Rose Quartz & Serenity as the blended color of the year.
“Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
According to Pantone, these soothing colors could be an antidote to modern day stresses.
Suggested possible pairings include:
While the colors are soothing to be sure, we’ll be interested to see how far the business world will go in adapting them.
Can you see any organizations you know using these colors?
Photo Source: Pantone.com
Read our 2017 Color Guide to Neutrals next:
Graphic standards are designed to create visual cohesiveness for your brand. But their usefulness can vary widely depending on how old they are, how robust they are and how they have responded to changes in your world.
Here are six questions to ask to see if your graphic standards are still serving you well—or need an update.
Is the logo practical?
Does it perform on a lapel pin and on the Web as well as it does on an outdoor board? In color or black and white? Professional designers test their recommendations in these venues before making them, yet we still find logos out there that are difficult to deploy in different applications.
Is the logo footprint unwieldy?
Square, round or odd-shaped logos often get problematic because their footprint doesn’t integrate well into an application. A discrete, contained footprint is often the most practical one for a logo.
Do you have enough font options?
Different applications require different types of fonts. Fonts that work well on an outdoor board aren’t always the same ones that work well on the Web. So be sure you have enough font options for all of your applications.
Is there a standard font included for the non-designer?
Hundreds or thousands of people in your company will be trying to work with these standards from the comfort of their own laptops and desktop computers, all armed with the standard fonts that come with their computers. You should have at least one of these standard fonts as an option in your recommended fonts—or it could end up being very costly to purchase specialty fonts for every user.
Do you find yourself struggling with the colors?
Maybe the palette doesn’t translate well to Web applications. Or you find there isn’t enough contrast in the colors to provide readable print or outdoor creative. Or there aren’t enough colors to serve your needs. Or perhaps the colors are starting to feel dated. Colors do go out of style, particularly those that aren’t classic colors, so if yours aren’t looking fresh, add some new ones.
Can your logo be built in four-color vs. adding Pantone spot colors?
A logo that requires Pantone spot color can add cost, because it requires adding another ink to a four-color process. Designing one that can be built using four-color process can save you printing costs.
If these are problems, you can update your standards—you don’t have to completely recreate them to keep them useful. Add colors, fonts and applications as you see the need. While it’s important to have consistency across a brand, brands migrate visually with time and this isn’t necessarily bad. Remember that while it’s important to preserve consistency, it is ultimately as important that your visual brand works for you. Tweaking it as your business needs change should be expected.
What problems are you having with your graphic standards that could be improved with a little tweaking?
We love color and enjoy watching the seasonal color changes—much like the leaves of fall—which are often a reflection of our societal moods. The color experts at Pantone have made their prediction for spring colors, and you may not find them surprising.
Spring colors are predicted to take on softer colors that reflect “quiet zones” and create an oasis to counterbalance our high-speed, technology-saturated culture. These soothing colors create visual sanctuaries for the eye.
What colors in this new spectrum have strongest appeal to you?
The 2015 color of the year is Marsala, a rich red-brown that exudes a sophisticated earthiness and works well on its own, as an accent or even as a hearty neutral.
The tone was selected for several reasons:
- Liked by men and women
- Flattering against many skin tones
- Brings warmth and drama
- Is versatile for interiors, fashion, beauty products and graphic design
For tips on pairing Marsala with other colors, check out the pantone color pairing guide.
We see the versatility and sophistication in this color, which will make an interesting addition to color options for 2015. What do you see in Marsala?
The Pantone company has announced that Radiant Orchid will be the color of the year for 2014.
According to their official release, the color of the year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.
With that, Pantone suggests:
- Radiant Orchid is said to be flattering on many skin tones.
- Where Emerald was the 2013 color of the year and symbolized growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid is across the color wheel and designed to spark the imagination.
- It pairs well with lavender, purple; complements olive and deeper hunter greens; and is beautiful with turquoise, teal and light yellow.
- It livens up neutrals like grey, beige and taupe.
The jury’s still out in our mind about how this color will translate into corporate design, but hey, we’re going to keep an open mind.
What do you think? Do you see Radiant Orchid fitting into your world in 2014?
Last year’s Tangerine Tango has been danced off the floor by 2013’s color of the year—Emerald, a vivid verdant green, according to Pantone, a global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries.
Green has long been viewed as a color of well-being, balance, healing, unity and growth. In its jewel presentation, it is sophisticated and luxurious. And its pervasiveness in nature makes it a color that is prevalent in nearly every culture.
Greens appear in the Pantone fashion color report this year as a fresh tone—extraordinary when paired with white, and equally beautiful in softer versions like grayed jade.
What’s your favorite 2013 color? If you want to register your vote, take the color survey and see how your choices compare with others.
Image Source: www.pantone.com
A monochromatic color scheme uses shades (created by adding black to a color) and tints (created by adding white) of a single color resulting in a clean and elegant look. This color palette is soothing to the eyes and works especially well with green or blue hues. It is easy to get right and has a sense of authority to it. The primary color can also be used with neutral colors like black, white or gray.
The only downfall to a monochromatic color scheme is that it lacks the contrast of a complementary color scheme and is not as vibrant. But don't be afraid to try this when you're wanting a sophisticated but cost-effective look.
"White is not a mere absence of color, it is a shining and affirmative thing..." —G. K. Chesterton
White most often represents purity, clarity, innocence and simplicity. It expresses silence, the suspension of hostility and peace. White is a conciliatory color. The human eye is very sensitive to even minute differences in whiteness, and as it does have an ample presence, white should not be considered to be a neutral color. It may be considered a clean, spotless, sterile color, but it is not warm.
- White: pure, clean, elegant, essential, pristine, spotless, innocent, silent, lightweight, airy, bright, ethereal, clarity, simplicity (sterile, cold, clinical)
"Blue very profoundly develops the element of calm."
Maybe there's a reason that blue is the #1 choice for corporate branding and identity, as many hope to cash in on the intrinsic belief that blue represents constancy, quality and achievement. It's also safe, secure and calming—and universally liked.
Blue often brings to mind the serenity of a clear, cloudless sky, a calm sea and a feeling of familiarity.
Blue became the color of respected honors, like the blue ribbon of quality and skill. It is also a popular color that is safe—and less controversial than some others.
They're probably out there, but we've rarely met a male executive who didn't like blue.
- Light Blue: calm, quiet, patient, peaceful, cool, water, clean
- Sky Blue: calming, cool, heavenly, constant true, tranquil, trusting, serene, expansive, open
- Bright Blue: electric, energy, brisk, vibrant, flags, stirring, impressive, aquatic, exhilarating
- Periwinkle: genial, lively, sprightly, convivial, cordial
- Deep Blue: credible, authoritative, basic, conservative, classic, strong, reliable, traditional, uniforms, service, nautical, loyal, confident, professional, introspective (can also be seen as aloof, distant, melancholy)
The most magical and intriguing color, purple pairs meditative blue with explosive red. It is a complex color and not often appreciated by left brained, analytical thinkers. Purple is often a great alternate when either blue or red seem an obvious choice.
Purple is often an acquired taste, like many of the flowers and foods that bear it's hue. In ancient times, only the very wealthy could afford to buy purple garments, as the dyes were extracted from tiny mollusks and it took about 336,000 of the tiny snails to yield one ounce of dye. Thus purple became the color of kings, queens, nobles and wealthy, powerful patrons. The color also took on certain mystical, heavenly, transcendental or spiritual properties.
- Lavender: romantic, nostalgic, fanciful, lightweight, lightly scented, playful
- Mauve: wistful, sentimental, thoughtful, feminine
- Amethyst: curative, protective, peace of mind
- Blue Purples: contemplative, meditative, spiritual, soul-searching, intuitive, mysterious, enchanting
- Red Purples: sensual, thrilling, intensely exciting, dramatic, creative, witty, expressive
- Deep Purples: visionary, rich, royal, prestigious, subduing, distant, introspective (aloof)
"There is, after all, safety in umbers.
" —Leatrice Eiseman
Historically, brown has been the color most identified with the earth and hard work. It was seen as pious, economical and industrious by religious and Puritan moralist groups. Brown has been seen as a benign and non-threatening color. Through the years, the color has taken on new meanings. Embraced by sporting enthusiasts, it has come to popularity with hunters, fishers, bikers, hikers and campers. But brown also has the ability to expand appetite—think cappucino, espresso, chocolate mousse, caramel and hot fudge. In addition, brown has captured the fashionable luxury goods market.
Don't be too quick to dismiss brown as boring!
- Tans: rugged, outdoor, rustic, woodsy
- Chocolate/Coffee Brown: delicious, rich, robust, appetizing
- Earth Brown: earthy, grounded, steady, rooted, wholesome, warm, durable, natural, traditional
When oranges were introduced to Europe, they were known as the fruit of the gods, emperors and kings. They quickly became popular in fine art and represented exotic lands. By the mid 20th century, however, the color orange lost popularity with the elite and came to represent fast food restaurants. It is currently enjoying a new popularity in Web, industrial design and consumer products.
Orange adds zest and is suggestive of tangy, spicy foods. Because of its close ties to red, orange is a physical, high-visibility color that demands attention. However, its connection to yellow tames it, making it a more friendly and warmer color than red. It is gregarious, fun-loving, optimistic and a favorite of children.
Wondering if orange is the right color for your business? Consider the many faces of orange:
- Peach: nurturing, soft, delicious, fruity, sweet, inviting, warm, intimate, modest
- Coral: life force, energizing, flexible, desire
- Tangerine: vital, juicy, fruitful, energizing, tangy
- Vibrant orange: fun, whimsical, childlike, happy, glowing, hot, energizing, active, friendly, jovial, persuasive, animated, loud, raucous, frivolous
- Ginger: spicy, flavorful, tangy, pungent, exotic
- Terra Cotta: earthy, warm, country, wholesome, welcoming, abundance
"Black is beautiful." —Huey Newton
Black will always have a presence, not only in the world of fashion, but in all design disciplines. Adding black to a color or design adds impact, depth, weight, substance and even subtlety.
Black wields a strong presence and is perceived as powerful, stylish, contained, modern and yet classic.
Of course, black is often an accent color that takes on variations in meaning based on the color with which it is paired. As you choose black in your design, consider the moods it conveys: power, elegance, sophistication, boldness, mystery, strength, luxury, magic, darkness, seriousness or prestige.
Use black whenever you want to convey these attributes, but remember that quantity and context can influence the overall impact.
"Follow the yellow brick road..." —Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz"
As the color of the sun, yellow owns the attributes of heat, vitality, energy and light. This extroverted color is confident, friendly, warm and inspires the imagination. Yellow is an important color in human development, as one of the most attractive colors to an infant's eye. It is also the color that is most visible, heightens awareness and creates clarity. Because of its ability to attract attention, yellow is often used in signage, point of purchase displays and packaging.
Consider the meaning of various shades of yellow as you select colors to support your messages:
- Light yellow: cheering, happy, soft, sunny, warming, sweet, easy, pleasing,
- Bright yellow: illuminating, joyful, hot, lively, friendly, energetic, innovative, surprise, caution (cowardice, betrayal, hazard)
- Golden yellow: nourishing, buttery, tasty, sun-baked, hospitable, comfort
- Amber: jewelry, multi-cultural, mellow, abundant, original, autumn
- Metallic gold: rich, glowing, intuitive, luxurious, opulent, expensive, radiant, valuable
"When I gain these ruby slippers, my power will be the greatest in Oz!"
—The Wicked Witch of the West
Since early times, red has been a signal to the human mind to act. It is the color of blood, and therefore life-sustaining or life-threatening. Considered the most physical color in the spectrum, it commands strong emotions and stimulates the adrenal glands to energize the body and senses.
- Light Pink: romantic, soft, sweet, delicate, innocent, fragile, youthful (too sweet)
- Dusty Pink: soft, subtle, cozy, gentle, nostalgic
- Bright Pink: exciting, playful, energetic, sensual, wild, festive, vibrant, flirtatious (gaudy)
- Bright Red: exciting, sexy, dynamic, dramatic, powerful, courageous, assertive, impulsive, demanding, motivating (aggressive, violent, dangerous)
- Brick Red: earthy, warm, strong, established
- Deep Reds: rich, elegant, refined, expensive, mature, robust