Branded Ultra Violet

The Power of Purple: How Brand Color Palettes Can Speak Volumes

By: Michele Tate

Typical turn-of-the-year trend predictions begin trickling down after a month or so. They start to show up in mainstream applications. Technology. Fashion. Marketing. Enter Pantone—who, once again, is telling us all how to color our world. This year’s “it” color: Ultra Violet. Or to common folks, purple.

There’s nothing wrong with purple—after all, it is the powerful signature of icons and cultural legends. Prince. Jimi Hendrix. That endless field of blooming Cosmos in The Color Purple. It is a rich hue that is readily embraced by creatives and royals. Yet in the business world, brand color palettes with purple are often a hard sell. Why is that? We’ve seen brands shy away, describing it as “soft,” “weak,” “unprofessional,” “juvenile,” and “feminine.”

According to the world’s leading authority on all things color, these are all misconceptions. Pantone’s narrative contends that the 2018 Color of the Year communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.  “Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

Pantone is not alone. Take a look at a few major brands who proudly endorse the power of purple:

HallmarkGold Crown is Hallmark’s symbol of quality, paired with a majestic purple that reminds us of the honor and royalty that accompanies a formal greeting.


Yahoo!A dimensional, rich purple brands Yahoo! as an innovation leader and tech world standout.


FedExA strong purple paired with a palette of vibrant supplemental shades reminds us that FedEx is an original power player in logistics—a beacon of speed and reliability.


TacoBellNothing about the color purple specifically says “Tex-Mex,” but somehow Taco Bell built a worldwide brand that says fun, food & fiesta, as opposed to feminine—both in the current brand refresh, and even with the inclusion of hot pink for more than the last decade.


Ravens Suns Lakers Along with a host of other pro teams and athletic programs of varying levels, these sports franchises proudly wear purple. The color serves as a bold, visual reminder of their grit on the field of play, their creative & innovative approach to the game, and their prestige in the league.

With Pantone’s 2018 pick in the color world, we can certainly expect to see a slew of new brands capitalizing on the trend. The smart ones will use it strategically to make a personal statement about their company. For sake of comparison and reference, here are some common schools of thought—or color cues—on what other brand hues might be saying about your organization:


Whether passion or rage, red is almost universally the color of intensity. If your company adopts red into its color palette, your brand will likely be viewed as bold, assertive or aggressive—unless you’re in the financial sector, where lines of red often mean trouble.


When in nature, hues of blue are synonymous with serenity (think sky and sea). But in the business world, blues are the hallmark of integrity, trustworthiness, stability and conservatism. Navy and marine blue are generally the color palette comfort zone of corporate America.


Quite naturally, greens scream environment. Companies that embrace lush, leafy hues may be viewed as environmentally conscious, all natural, growing (or growth-focused), or youthful. Alternately, green does mean ‘go’, so a grassy tint could be interpreted as progressive or ‘on the move’.


The colors of sunshine and citrus, orange and yellow coloring nearly always refers to energy. Use of these hues often implies cheer, intensity of emotion, speed or creativity. Hence, those connotations frequently find a good fit with tech or youth-based orgs.


These neutrals are highly regarded as safe or benign, and can be used alone or as a base to a brighter brand tone. Both give a feeling of stability and establishment. A cooler black tone reads as crisp & classic; a warmer brown one, as personable & welcoming.


At this point in the evolution of the marketing world, if your brand color is a shiny gold foil, one of two statements is likely true: You’re stuck in the 1990’s. Or shimmer & sheen is the style manifesto of your brand (a la Bruno Mars). If the former is accurate, it’s time to update for the sake of your brand’s image and relevance. If the latter is your philosophy…24 karat magic. Carry on!

There’s never a bad time for self-reflection. Brand color palettes are always talking—what is yours saying about you right now? Is 2018 your year to embrace the power of purple?