New Year, New Colors
Late last year, I started looking at the up-and-coming design color trends and predictions for 2020.
This year promises to be exciting with lots of bold and powerful colors, and I mean bold and powerful! As an artist, this suits me to a T because I love vibrant and saturated colors. We have a fantastic selection to choose from this year.
While some people may find these colors a little over-the-top, with so much competition in the market and on social media, you need to stand out in a sea of competitors — not blend in with the crowd!
My resources for this blog post come primarily from leading companies that provide imagery, color standardization and graphic design platforms that I subscribe to or use. I have no affiliation with any of these companies.
The Importance of Color
We live in a visual world. Time constraints seldom permit us to read long articles, sales pitches or scour hundreds of web-based resources. Generally, when I am searching for something specific, the first thing I look at is the accompanying image. If it jumps out at me, then I will click for more information. If the image is boring or irrelevant, I will just skip over that item or refine my search.
I am much more likely to look at an image that “speaks” to me, even if it’s not quite what I’m looking for. This strategy does not always work, so use a little judgement when picking your images.
I was searching a local website for a rescue cat and saw “Mr. Chips.” The photo was terrible and made the cat look very unappealing, so I crossed him off my list. I then went to the facility to look firsthand for a new pet and saw this amazing kitty in person.
Guess what? “Mr. Chips” got a new home. If I had taken notice of that photo, I would not have met the love of my life. Mr. Bojangles, or Bebo as he is now known, has now been with me for nine years and is irreplaceable. As you can see, Bebo is a very handsome cat. The original image did him no justice at all!
The point of this example is that although we do live in a visual world, you cannot always “judge a book by its cover.”
What is color psychology? It’s an area of research that looks at different colors and the impact and influence they have on our emotions and behaviours. Because we live in a visual world, when we are marketing our business or products, we need to remember that certain colors can influence how our clients feel or react.
For example, red can increase appetite or portray a sense of urgency, which in turn can increase sales. Blue can represent trust and stability, which can give your clients a sense of security. Therefore, smart businesses use specific colors in their branding to influence their customers’ decisions, depending on their business.
Let’s look at a few specific examples of the use of color psychology by well-known brands. Below are examples from an excellent Colour in Branding post by Iconic Fox. At the end of this post, I include an extract from my upcoming workbook, “Branding Your Own Small Business.”
So, What are the Color Trends for 2020?
Shutterstock is an American company that provides stock photography, vector graphics, illustrations, video footage, music and editing tools.
To arrive at three trending colors for 2020, Shutterstock analyzed billions of pixels from downloads from their website to determine what colors are on the rise. These pixels were then mapped to the closest hex color. Hex color codes are a shorthand to represent colors on a digital display, and tell us how much red, blue and green combine to create a colour. Shutterstock’s research showed there was a marked shift from the soft pastel colors of recent years to more vibrant and bold colors.
According to Shutterstock, the three trending colors for 2020 are:
Lush Lava is a mix of blazing orange and rich red, while Aqua Menthe is a mix of cyan and mint. These colors are both bright and bold and add great accents or pops of color to the darker tone of Phantom Blue. Phantom Blue is a mix of indigo and navy and aligns closely with the Pantone 2020 Color of the Year, “Classic Blue.”
Examples of Lush Lava Images
Examples of Aqua Menthe Images
Examples of Phantom Blue Images
Sample Social Media Posts
Pantone provides a standardized universal language of color that helps millions of designers and producers around the world define, communicate and control their decisions regarding the use of color in graphics, fashion and product design.
The Pantone Color Institute provides specifications for customized color standards, brand identity and product color consulting as well as trend forecasting, including the Pantone Color of the Year. “Classic Blue” is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2020.
Classic Blue is a timeless color that reflects honesty, trust and stability. In a fast-paced world, this color provides dependability, security and serenity.
During my research for this post, I noticed a fair amount of criticism on the color choice for this year as being boring and safe. Maybe this is what’s needed in a time of constant change as we enter a new era. Food for thought!
Examples of Classic Blue Images
Canva is an innovative Australian-owned company that started out in 2014 and is a graphic design platform. Canva offers thousands of templates from design presentations to social media graphics, and its motto is “Design anything, publish anywhere.” I have used both Canva for Free and their paid version, Canva Pro for a couple of years.
Canva’s 10 Trending Color Combinations for 2020
Navy and Mint
As mentioned above, blue is a colour that projects security, stability and trust. Adding a splash of Mint Green gives it a fresh and modern approach. In my own designs, I have used a similar scheme, but the Phantom Blue and Aqua Menthe from Shutterstock give a bolder design. (See the social media examples above)
A monochromatic color scheme uses different shades of the same color. They are simple and easy to look at. Monochrome palettes have been around for a long time, including the neutral palette of black and white, which are achromatic colors (colors without hue). 2020 sees a push towards monochromatic schemes, but with more vibrant colors.
Samples of Monochromatic Color Schemes
Neutrals with a Twist
Neutrals like black and white are timeless, but on-trend with vibrant and brighter colors in 2020, designers are now adding a bold twist. With a move away from a palette with a few different colors, we are now seeing a single accent color added to neutrals, giving a modern touch to a classic theme.
Samples of Neutrals with a Twist Color Schemes
Sample Social Media Posts
On the Softer Side
Given all the vibrant colors predicted for 2020, there is still room for the softer pastel shades. Green is popular this year. Here are a couple of palette ideas based on some color schemes from Canva’s blog, linked below.
Samples of Soft Green Pastel Color Schemes
A Touch of Teal
I am going to talk about two different color palettes here, but they both include the color teal. The first one is a vintage-style palette that includes the color mustard. The colors beige or cream are used to balance the palette.
Mustard was a trending color in 2019 and it looks like this will continue into 2020. The old retro-style will be given a modern twist with the use of sans serif fonts, minimalist shapes and pops of color, either bold or pastel.
The second color palette has been around for ages and continues to blossom. Orange and teal are complementary colors and sit opposite each other on the color wheel. I have shown the traditional colors here, but in 2020 the orange will have a stronger burnt orange hue with a minty-looking teal to again emphasize bold and bright colors. This is a great color combo for the food industry.
Samples of Teal Color Schemes
Neon – All of the Lights
In 2019, we started to see a resurgence of the 80s with the revival of neon/fluoro colors across all design areas. Read Shutterstock’s blog on color trends for 2019 here.
This trend is going to continue into 2020, along with the collection of vinyl records, arcade and pinball games, and vintage computers.
Samples of Neon Color Schemes
Sample Social Media Posts
From the Earth
The last palette on Canva’s list is terracotta and sand. Both are neutral and earthy colors, which make them very versatile in design. You could pair them with almost any other color.
I have added burnt sienna and wine berry for a pop of color.
Samples of Terracotta and Sand Color Scheme
While this post is primarily about color trends, it would be remiss of me not to touch on the design trends for this year, some of which I mentioned above.
A few of the design trends for 2020 are:
- Geometric shapes
- The Art Deco period
- The 1920s (it is the 20s again, after all!)
- Custom typography
- Unique branding
- Flowers in FULL bloom
- Using more art in your designs, e.g. watercolor, hand-drawn illustrations, etc.
Here are the links to three excellent blog posts that expand more on the color and design trends for 2020:
- Shutterstock’s 2020 Creative Designs
- Canva’s 5 Design Trends you will see in 2020
- 99Designs’ Inspiring Color trends for 2020
I hope this gives you ideas for all the things you could experiment and play with!