Hello world, I am your ugliest color!

PANTONE488C and color perception

Understanding abstract visualizations is an almost inherent human trait. Without much training, kindergarten kids get that a longer item means more – bigger kids are older, longer lollipops are more etc.

Perception of color is immediate, but individually very distinct: around 10% of the male population is red-green color blind, seeing colors very much depends on individual photo-receptor composition. During a logo development, I was once very pleased with my beautiful blue-to-green gradient design. Alas, it turned out that the colleague in need of this logo, was unable to see even see the gradient! He literally thought I was making fun of him by showing him just a blue dot.


Color and shape

Colors alone usually have no meaning. But they can strongly influence the meaning of a shape. And, this meaning is a learned cultural standard. a red octagon symbolizes “STOP”, a red human shape indicates “FEMALE” and a red heart means “LOVE”, and a red cable is MINUS electric currency.


Changing the color of a symbol can change the meaning of a symbol: While a red octagon means STOP, a green octagon at airports inverts this and means “GO AHEAD”.


XKCD color survey: or what is the guys name for lavendar?

A fun read about color-perception is the XKCD color survey with >200.000 participants: https://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results

Ugliest color

Despite out individual color perception, an Australian research project now identified the world’s ugliest color in a quest to find a repelling cigarette packaging. The unanimous lead spot was won by PANTONE448C! A murky mix of muddy green and brown. It proved so successful in discouraging smokers that it was since rolled out in other countries too.


You are free to use it, but beware that it might signal something BAD! 🙂


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