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12th May 2016

Don’t be Pantone Deaf

What your business’ choice of colour says about the way you work.

We all get overwhelmed with how our personal networks view the image we present. We are all, to some extent, our own little brands - we expect to be judged on the images we reveal on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter to name but a few.  Personal shoppers have moved from the domain of the fabulously rich to the very ordinary, and ‘having your colours done’ has replaced the humble Tupperware party as the vogue for evening socials. 


So it is in business. A widely quoted statistic is that 80% of people believe that colour increases brand recognition, and 85% of customers make an initial judgement based entirely on colour. So when designing print, working from a foundation of your corporate colours will reinforce your brand. Adding key secondary colours will help to tone your print: is its intention informative? humorous? questioning? personal? Is it a hard sell or a soft sell?  The key with all of this, of course, is not to get carried away. Stick to a couple of key colours and look at tones within that palate. 


How about if you’re building your brand?  Think about what you want to say about your offering. Do any of these words describe your message?


Energy, Passion - Red

Adventure, Warmth -  Orange 

Optimism, Victory - Yellow

Compassion, Serenity - Pink 

Authority, Sophistication - Black

These are warm colours, associated with vibrancy.


Natural, Healthy - Green

Trust, Security - Blue 

Wealth, Elegance - Purple 

Strength, Durability - Brown

Simplicity, Purity - White

These are cool colours, associated with security.


Once you’ve pinned down the mood that you want to convey in your print, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the colour process is done and dusted. There is so much more to consider though - opaqueness, vibrancy, clarity, combinations. Consider looking at a colour wheel. Choose colours either side of your base colour (analogous) or opposite to your base colour (complementary) to create harmony in your print. Do you want to combine warm and cold to convey balance? Or utilise grey, the neutral colour? What about trends?  


There is no right answer; your message as a business is complicated and varied. The important thing is not to get caught up in trying to convey too much. Keep it simple. Too much information is chaotic. Similarly, the importance of colour trends is dependent on the level that your business relies on conveying modernity and fashion. 


Popular colour is getting softer. The Pantone colour of the year for 2016, for the first time a pairing of shades, is demonstrably softer than a decade ago - Rose Quartz, described as “embracing rose” and Serenity, described as “tranquil blue”.  If we look back at the Pantone colour of 2007 (Chili Pepper, described as “deep, spicy red”), we can see how trends in colour have become less attention grabbing and more focussed on elegance and reflection. A little less hyperactive puppy and rather more ice queen.


Pantone expands on its colours of the year: “Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”


So you see - a single colour can say so much, and there are an increasing volume of shades on offer when designing your print. It is easy to see how working out your print shades can become as overwhelming as finding that perfect filter on Instagram. It needn’t be. We work with the subtlety of colour every day and understand how it alters a piece of advertising material or a business card. We’re here for you - just ask!