Pantone has released its pick for 2018 Colour of the Year: the blue-based purple of Ultra Violet. So what does this mean for graphic design over the next 12 months?
Can you define a year with a colour? It might seem like an odd question, but that’s something done by Pantone annually. This coming year is no different; The previous months are summed up with a single shade and a glimpse into the future is taken with Pantone’s Colour of the Year: 2018.
This might seem like a gimmick – and, okay, it is a bit – but it is also a really interesting look at the role colour plays in our lives. Each and every day, we’re surrounded by thousands of different tones and shades, and all good graphic designers know how to use colour to affect the thoughts and feelings of people.
So, what shade has been given the honour of Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2018? The award has been given to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet.
According to Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute:
“Ultra Violet is a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. If that doesn’t sell you on the shade — from exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection — intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”
That’s quite impressive for a colour. However, behind the mysticism, Ms Eiseman is correct about the role the specific shade plays in our lives. The deep purple is often used in spaces designed for meditation, and it’s associated with insight and wisdom in philosophies such as Feng Shui.
You’ve probably also seen it (or a very similar tone) on images of the night sky, often shared on Instagram with a spiritual or inspirational quote emblazoned across it. The colour is therefore associated with deep, philosophical thinking; even if the actual quotes often miss the mark!
Of course, that’s not the only thing Ultra Violet is associated with. Very similar shades of purple have been utilised by many musicians, including David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, Prince. This has given the colour an association with creativity and expression, as well as the innovation that these artists are known for.
Purple colours excite us and move us towards creative output, and Ultra Violet is no different. The shade can, therefore, be used in a number of ways that show off how exciting and innovative you are.
By choosing Ultra Violet, Pantone is making a statement about the current state of the world, and the colour it believes sums it up.
According to Ms Eiseman, “we are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination” which is why Ultra Violet is the right colour for 2018.
So how has this logic been used in past years? Pantone has been quite inventive in how it chooses its shades. For example, 2017’s Colour of the Year was Greenery, a natural yellow-green that was chosen to provide people with calmness and reassurance; something much-needed after a couple of year of intense political idiocy preceded by a three-fold timespan of financial armageddon.
Meanwhile, 2016’s Colour of the Year was controversial, as Pantone actually chose TWO shades: Rose Quartz and Serenity, a pastel pink and light blue. This was a combination many designers made good use of, and it was very popular online for quite a while.
You might think that Colour of the Year doesn’t matter, but you can actually learn a lot from how Pantone describes their specific shades. You don’t have to switch out your entire palette for variations on Ultra Violet, but you should look into what your use of colour says about you as a brand.
Just as Ultra Violet is seen as both calming and creative, different colours evoke different emotions. Bold reds are aggressive, but also angry, for example. Blues help us concentrate, while yellows can make us more alert. Warm oranges remind us of peaceful sunrises, while deep pinks are passionate.
The colours you choose should reflect the brand you want to be. If you are selling products designed to help people relax, for example, you probably want to steer away from an aggressive colour scheme made up of reds and yellows.
The shades you choose will reflect who you are as a company, and can play a surprisingly large part in how customers and clients see you, especially on their first impression. It might be worth taking a cue from Pantone and changing up your colours this year.