2022: Periwinkle Blue and You
At the end of 2021, Pantone announced a colour to summarise 2022 and its trends. Known as Very Peri, Pantone 17-3938 is a periwinkle blue with violet-red undertones. But what does Very Peri mean for you and your brand?
The yearly Pantone colour announcement is more than a bit of new year’s fun and a clever brand recognition strategy. It can offer an insight into consumer behaviour for the next 12 months. Not only that, it’s an excellent opportunity to understand colour theory and how your brand’s colours can help or hinder your success.
Colour Theory 101
A cornerstone of design theory, colour theory looks at the innate meanings of colours. Colours can be used to communicate with consumers via a powerful visual language. As a result, a brand’s colour scheme and logo can instantly convey a brand’s values and identity. The most successful brands can even become deeply connected to the colour, ensuring powerful visual recall from consumers.
Consider some of the most recognisable brands in Australia and the world. Which ones come to mind first and which aspect of their branding? For instance, consider how the name Cadbury conjures up the distinctive dark purple (Pantone 2685C) that has been their trademark since 1914. This purple is so synonymous with the brand that they were able to trademark its use for selling chocolate bars for several decades.
Internationally, Starbucks’ deep green (Pantone PMS 3425 C) is as recognisable as its logo’s smiling siren. However, locally, they may have some colour competition from Bunnings, whose green (HEX 006F66) falls close on the spectrum. Of course, the hardware giant’s green is more recognisable when used in conjunction with its bright red (HEX EC1C24).
However, even if your brand’s colour is not as instantly recognisable as these examples, colour theory still has significant merit. In fact, it can be an important aspect of an overall marketing strategy, positioning consumers to take certain actions or behave in a particular way. It’s not an exact science, but you can have great success when you combine colour theory with a thorough understanding of your audience, including culture, gender and age.
The Hidden Language of Colours
Colour theory proposes that different colours intrinsically denote particular values or ideas, making them more suitable for certain industries or products. You may be at some level aware of these connotations — like green being linked to eco-friendly products — while others you may not have fully considered until this point in time.
You may also recognise a predominance or predisposition for particular industries to be saturated with certain colours. For instance, a study found blue features in more than 75% of major credit card brand logos, yet only 20% of fast food logos use blue. Additionally, red rarely appears in apparel logos but can be seen in roughly 60% of retail brands’ colour schemes.
Of course, there are always outliers too. Choosing a colour that is under-represented in your industry can be a smart and strategic approach to stand out from the crowd. You just need to balance this with the implied meanings to ensure your logo and colours are a harmonious and true representation of your brand and its values.
In Western culture, the following colours have a host of associations. These associations are often used by certain industries to great effect.
White evokes feelings of sincerity, purity, clarity, peace and simplicity, as well as cleanliness and hygiene. As a result, wellness and medical industries often use it in their branding. But white also appears in the tech industry. For instance, consider Apple’s emphasis on intuitive product UX and they are predominantly white colour schemes.
Black often represents sophistication, glamour, power and dignity. Challenge yourself to identify a predominantly black logo for a brand that isn’t associated with luxury, elegance, affluence or the cream of the crop.
While this colour is also associated with luxury and quality, purple also can be used to emphasise authenticity — a value that is becoming increasingly desired by consumers, particularly Gen Z. We may soon see popular brands with black logos incorporating purple into their colour schemes as a result.
Pink is associated with nurture, warmth and softness. These are also words associated with femininity, so you can expect to see pink in colour schemes for female-focused products and services. The saturation of pink, however, can play a role in meaning: compare Barbie’s energetic hot pink to the soft and soothing pink of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s logo from 1994 to 2018.
In contrast, red is seen to represent activity, strength and excitement. It’s easy to see how these connections are made when red can be an extremely dominating colour in any palette and draw the eye in a crowded marketplace. However, when the marketplace becomes saturated with red-dominant logos, the impact can be lessened. For example, consider the plethora of red fast-food logos and how brands that choose a different colour may stand out.
Orange is also an energetic and exciting colour, emphasising liveliness and extroversion. Unlike red, it can be less dramatic without losing its impact. You’ll often see orange used across a range of industries, including fitness, technology and logistics. Interestingly, publisher Penguin Books have not only used orange to stand out within the books industry, but they have also incorporated it deeply within their branding. Their range of Penguin Classics all feature distinctive orange covers (Pantone 1505 to be precise), encouraging consumers to pick up the product.
Friendliness, happiness and optimism are all associated with the colour yellow. Like orange and red, yellow stands out from the crowd but it also emphasises positivity. As a result, yellow can be used to counter negative associations to products or services. For instance, it is a popular colour in the fitness and budget spaces — two areas that can be triggering or anxiety provoking for consumers. The yellow colour may then help consumers unconsciously feel more positively towards the brand, almost like they’re connecting with a friend.
With many brands adapting an eco-friendly approach, green logos and branding aren’t unique. As a colour, green can represent nature and the outdoors but also security, including financial security; relaxation; and growth. The conveyed meaning can often come down to the green chosen. For example, compare the greens of the Woolworths, Australian Made and Kathmandu logos. Woolworths’ green can be interpreted as freshness, while Kathmandu’s green refers to the outdoors. The Australian Made logo’s deeper shade of green encourages feelings of security and trust.
Like green, brown has connotations with the earth and nature, particularly for rugged, outdoorsy brands. On the other hand though, brown can represent richness and luxury, and even conjure a feeling of warmth. As a result, brown turns up a lot in the logos of coffee and chocolate brands.
Blue may well be the most common colour to feature in logos and, with associations of intelligence, efficiency, trust, competence and communication, it’s understandable. These are certainly values all brands hold and they’re critical for those in finance, health, technology and insurance sectors. But this does mean that it is a crowded marketplace when it comes to using blue in innovative ways. You may need to expend more effort on creating a distinctive logo in other ways —, like the unique shapes that feature in Facebook and Twitter’s logos — than simply relying on a shade of blue to help your logo stand out.
So What About Very Peri?
But where does Very Peri — that periwinkle blue with violet-red undertones — fit into colour theory? When debuting the colour, Pantone cited that “we are living in transformative times” and Very Peri represents this transformation with the increased influence of the digital onto the physical. It’s a dynamic colour that celebrates courage in creativity and imagination. The blending of blue’s reliability with the energy of red makes for a colour that empowers.
However, one could also argue that the combination of blue and purple is a response to a changing world where uncertainty is a frequent companion for the majority of the population. In these times, we highly value trustworthy brands, products and services that can make us feel secure. At the same time, with the entrance of Gen Z into the marketplace, authenticity and ‘realness’ is critical. Similarly, there is a growing emphasis on the quality of products and services. These values are associated across blue and purple, and, by extension, Very Peri too.
How Does Your Logo Measure Up?
Understanding what colours can mean for consumers provides you with a solid foundation from which to analyse your own brand’s colours, particularly within your logo. Very Peri may be the colour of 2022, but your brand needs a colour that represents it. Is your current colour scheme serving your brand or causing miscommunications?
It’s not an exact science, but you can have great success when you combine colour theory with a thorough understanding of your audience, including culture, gender and age.
Research Your Industry & Target Audience
Context is key to the successful application of colour theory. This means you need to understand your industry, as well as your target audience.
Start by analysing the logos and colours of your competitors. Are there repeated colours? What are these colours implying about the brands and the industry overall? Is it true of your brand?
There’s nothing wrong with having logo colours that are popular within your industry — it can make for a simple visual cue for consumers. However, there is reward in the risk of choosing a different colour. It’s up to you, though, to decide if the payoff is worth it.
Before you commit to a fresh logo colour, remember to consider your target consumers. What are they looking for in a brand? Will your new colour encourage them towards your brand?
Decide If a Picture Is Worth More Than 1000 Words
The colour you choose for your logo can be impacted by your style of logo. There are two main styles of logo: those that prioritise words, and those that utilise symbols and iconography. There are benefits and downsides to either style, but if you are favouring typography, having a powerful colour is important for recognition. When you use iconography, there is an additional element of recognition for the consumer. For instance, compare the ABC logo with IGA’s logo. The ABC infinity-esque symbol is instantly recognisable without any typography, while the IGA oval is less distinctive. Therefore, a more impactful colour is required.
Don’t Forget to Integrate Your Colour Scheme
Ideally, the colouring of your logo should translate across your brand and fit within an overall colour scheme. This consistency and unity aids in brand recognition. Your colour scheme does not need to be dominated by your logo colour, but it should feature. It may be a pop of colour in a minimalist colour scheme. Therefore, when choosing your logo colour, be sure that it will work with your existing colour scheme or be prepared to review this and all associated materials as well.
And a Very Peri New Year
At the end of the day, no one knows what 2022 holds in store for us. However, the swift and extensive change of the last few years has shown us that timelessness is a worthwhile quality. Using colour theory, you can create a logo for your brand to represent it for generations to come.