Wow, the power of colour. It has been well-documented that it has the potential to produce strong emotive response.
And this is exploited everywhere - from interior design to brand identity. Blue is said to calm, red to signal danger. On roadways we use colour as a safety measure to prompt and guide us as we travel at high speed. It transgresses language barriers and is an integral part of communication.
In 2012, an Australian research company conducted research (with over 1000 participants) and announced the word’s ugliest colour to be Pantone 448 C - A.K.A "opaque couché”.
It pipped olive, lime, white, beige and brown to the post.
This ‘reverse marketing’ and the shift towards plain, unappealing packaging for harmful products is being copied by governments worldwide - including the UK, Ireland and France. It's a bit of a cheeky move but it is intended to promote good health.
According to Pantone, colour influences as much as 85% of customer purchasing decisions. When it comes to logo design, it is the first thing to create an impression.
This makes palette choice central to branding; studies by the University of Missouri-Columbia have inferred that a company's logo is among the very most important aspects of marketing and advertising.
Will the world’s ugliest colour compel smokers to kick the habit? Perhaps not - although we have come a long way since the flashy, fashion-wary tobacco adverts of years past in terms of de-glamourising the drug.
I’m not sure how much sway colour repulsion really has over addiction, but I am in agreement that 448C is one seriously murky colour.
What is Pantone?
When people speak of pantone they’re referring to a standardised chart of colours.
Supplied by Pantone Inc, there exists a reproduction system that allows for accurate colour matching across the world. The Pantone Matching System regulates colour references from design through to production and keeps everybody on the same page.
Colour as a global zeitgeist
Pantone has been nominating a 'Colour of the Year' since 2000, annually scouting the world for one hue that clearly expresses the current climate and dominant attitude of the times.
This year’s colour is a vibrant, grassy green.
In my field of work, colour is commonly used to attract and excite. I’m not used to thinking of colour as a deterrent - but it certainly is an interesting flip side. This video talks about colour association and Pantone 448 C from a design perspective.
When market research firm Gfk was hired by the Australian government to consider how cigarette packs could be designed to prevent smoking, the firm came up with a colorful solution: Make the packs as unappealing as possible by wrapping them in an earthy “dark brown,” or what would be matched to Pantone color 448C. The color was found least appealing to prospective cigarette buyers in tests, and it has since been proclaimed “the world’s ugliest color” by the blogosphere. But in the interest of fairness to all colors, we talked to designers Milton Glaser and Debbie Millman, along with Pantone VP Laurie Pressman, to get their professional take on this cancerous, baby poop, lung brown.