Is Scandinavian chic on the way out? We are getting a little tired of the understated, dimmed and discreet. Now we want stronger and bolder color choices. Swedish companies like IKEA and Spotify are just a few examples of companies that are using color in new ways in their communication efforts.
When the Pantone Color Institute highlights colors like minion yellow, lime popsicle, green flash and blue skydiver for 2018, without a doubt we know that something new is underway. We have a trend! Here’s everything you need to know about the revenge of the colors: The Color Bomb trend.
What is the Color Bomb?
We have previously seen a parallel trend,
Nordic noir. It’s a dull and dimmed color scale with few visual exclamations that create a quiet and often responsive expression. Color Bomb is the opposite of Nordic Noir. All the vivid colors raise the pulse to almost heart attack levels.
The Color Bomb trend is paradoxically as minimalist as it is colorful. It’s playful and sometimes childish. The antithesis of motion blur and authenticity. Don’t be surprised if your first impression is that it looks unattractive. The colors are allowed to clash according to traditional feelings.
Color Bomb in five points
• Minimalist feeling
• A lot of color, ranging from pastels to signal colors
• Contrasts, preferably colors that clash
• Often studio photos for full control of composition and light
• Childish and playful
A type of childishness and optimism
“People need to stop and smile”, said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director at Pantone Color Institute, when she presented the company’s trend analysis for 2018. Eiseman believes that the wave of intense colors is just a natural extension of people’s hectic lifestyle and thought process. It’s time to have some fun. In a time of advertising fatigue, marketing needs to spread some joy and generate curiosity using color and a new design language.
Color Bomb is also about involving all the senses in communication. “Tactility, sounds and smells are talked about,” says Karin Sandelin, semiotician at Kantar Sifo, and expert on how symbols and signs are interpreted. Colors effectively enhance the expression of different tastes in the images, and they can be seen as part of the movement towards higher interaction between the human machine as well as the human brand.
What do you communicate with Color Bomb?
The typical Instagram filtered images based on bright pastels have not disappeared but are part of the trend. The signals they send out are about innocence, romance, dreaminess and childhood. Things we have not seen in the all-serious adult world for decades.
But we also see more of the combination of light pastels and a stronger, more saturated color or even signal colors. Then something happens – the signals of innocence diminish, and the expression instead becomes more present and shows a crisper and more direct stance.
Back to Karin Sandelin, telling us that the crisp color choices still signal innocence, but a more playful one that wants to be seen and that wants to speak. Not dreamy, but here and now.
“With these contrasts, the images express a new way of thinking and a type of self-confidence that does not fear innocence or being offensive. Incurable optimism as a statement! Everything is political and of course there are interesting aspects of the trend – from a dreamy escape reality to a more present color activism such as the #iamhere*,” Karin Sandelin concludes.
And yes, with presidents who take childishness to new levels, we need both activism and the opportunity to laugh at the misery. How will you use Color Bomb in your communication?
In search of Color Bomb in advertising and communication:
Time to tie things together
The video for Beck’s “Dear Life” from the Colors album, to be released in October 2017, is perfect for finishing the theme on Color Bomb. It was made by multimedia artist Jimmy Turrell, and we find it to be a sign of the times. Enjoy!
* #jagärhär (I am here) is a Swedish non-profit organization fighting together against
hatred and threat, racism, sexism, homophobia and funcophobia, etc. on social media.
Sources: Karin Sandelin, Semiotician at Swedish Kantar Sifo, Elle Decoration USA, Pantone Color Institute, Digitalartsonline.co.uk, Venngage.com, Splasheffect.ca.