Peachy Keen: What the Color of the Year Means for Print Management

Humans are distinctly visual creatures. Color affects us immediately, and it communicates a message without the need for words. According to the American Marketing Association, studies show up to 90% of initial product evaluations are based on color alone.  Consumers absolutely judge a book by its cover, which is why choosing brand colors is essential; each color imparts a different meaning depending on the target market. In fact, leveraging the ‘color of the year’ can often resonate with contemporary consumer sentiments and trends, influencing their perception of a brand’s relevance and modernity.

It is because of this that products should seriously consider the impact of color. In many cases, the right color is synonymous with a successful marketing campaign! “As a print service, it’s amazing to witness the collaboration between creative professionals and color experts during press checks while working together to achieve precise color matches and maintain brand consistency,” said Joe Miller, President, Flyleaf Print, a full-service print management company. “Colors play a central role in establishing brand identity. Consistent use of colors across print and packaging materials enhances brand recall and recognition among consumers.”

A Nuanced Combination

Psychologist Carl Jung examined the psychology of color and proposed a “collective unconscious” with universal color associations across cultures. For example, red implies vitality, and green signifies growth. “Of course, colors have the power to evoke specific emotions and feelings,” Miller added. “Warm colors like red and orange create a sense of urgency or excitement, and cool colors like blue and green convey calmness and trustworthiness.”
In 2024, color trend analysis shows that warmer, nature-inspired hues are rising in response to “technostress”, climate change, and the growing search for meaning and community. “Colors carry diverse cultural meanings and associations that symbolize concepts, emotions, traditions, and more,” Miller said. “The relationship between culture and color influences everything from aesthetic preferences to political activities, and shapes communication, design, and social practices across different cultures.”

Peach Fuzz: 2024 Color of the Year

For more than 25 years, the Pantone Color Institute has tracked cultural changes that reflect the times in which we’re living and assigned a color that serves as a symbol of the current zeitgeist. “I don’t know the exact considerations that go into choosing the color of the year, but it seems to reflect current trends, cultural influences, and other factors,” Miller said.
In fact, a group of designers and color specialists from around the world chose “Peach Fuzz”—officially designated as “Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz”—a warm fuzzy color they hope will further togetherness and understanding. Pantone added that the shade was selected to “evoke a new modernity,” while “bringing a feeling of tenderness and communicating a message of caring and sharing, community, and collaboration.”

A peachy (color of the year) triangle geometric shape with vibrant color and pattern representing the pantone problem.
Color Copyright Controversy

It’s interesting to note that colors can be controversial. In a 2022 interview on NPR, British artist Stuart Semple and Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor from the University of Michigan, delved into the parting of ways between Pantone and Adobe Creative Suite™. “You can’t copyright a color under U.S. law,” according to Perzanowski, “but what Pantone does have is their system of standardization.” Therein lies the problem. 

Miller noted, “The bigger concern for the creative community is the impact of Pantone’s absence from Adobe’s Suite since August 2022. Creative professionals who rely on Pantone’s solutions would be better served with access to tools that directly integrate with their workflow.” Miller further noted that clients relied on Pantone to provide comprehensive color solutions tailored to their needs. “The limited spectrum of Pantone colors in (or within) Adobe’s Suite has led to an unintended association with the creative world lamenting the ‘greyer’ landscape without full access to Pantone’s color libraries. This disconnect highlights the importance of seamless integration within design workflows.”

In response to the absence of Pantone, Semple created an alternative color standardization system called Freetone, a plug-in of 1,280 colors that are, in his own words, “extremely Pantone-ish.”

Harmonious Balance

The 60-30-10 rule is a standard guideline for establishing a balanced color palette in many design contexts. To create a harmonious balance, the designer must select a color to be dominant and use it as the main hue, or 60% of the design. The selection of a secondary color (30% of the design) should provide contrast and complement the dominant color. The accent color is used sparingly, as pops of color that cover only 10% of the overall design.
Designers are encouraged to select colors that reflect and resonate with a brand’s personality. “Most of a brand’s chosen colors are selected after extensive research, analysis, and consideration of brand values, target audience, and other factors,” Miller said.
“Peach Fuzz” has caused several brands to include it in their ad campaigns. Yoplait recently featured it in their advertising, noting that it infused a “sense of serenity and nurturing” into their brand messaging. Starbucks introduced a new drink called “Fuzzy Peach Refresher” to coincide with this color trend and to appeal to customers seeking positivity.
“Brand colors serve as a visual representation of their personality and positioning in the market,” Miller noted. “In that regard, my expectation is that any inclusion of Peach Fuzz will probably be minimal at best.” 

First Impressions Need Care

It’s been observed by everyone, from your mother to the art director down the hall, that “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Perhaps this is cliché, but it’s also true. Once it’s made, a first impression tends to last.
Brands only have a few seconds to grab your attention, and this is difficult for any brand competing in today’s crowded marketplace. That’s why Flyleaf Print believes that first impressions need care.  A cohesive visual brand identity, authenticity, and on-brand messaging all work simultaneously to create an effective first impression.
Miller concludes, “First impressions have a physical parallel to the printing process, highlighting the significance of quality and impact. Just as a print substrate passes through a press to transfer ink onto paper, our interactions and materials create an impression. Ensuring excellence in craftsmanship and communication reinforces Flyleaf’s commitment to present our partners in the best light possible. It’s all about leaving a lasting positive mark on those we engage with.”

Flyleaf Print has reconceptualized print management. If your next project could use some fresh ideas, let us help.