Colour Me Social

by Adobe UK Team

Posted on 07-18-2018

We recently checked in with the experts at the Pantone Colour Institute to find out which colours are trending this summer. We learned that social media is helping to shape the current colour palette, and then we dug a little deeper into what it all means for designers and brands.

Laurie Pressman, the Institute’s vice president, shared a collection of bright, saturated colours her team is tracking in designs around the world: Lime Green, Hawaiian Ocean, Flame Orange, Fuchsia Purple, Cherry Tomato, Blazing Yellow, and Dazzling Blue.

“Following years of essentialist and pared-down aesthetics, the thirst for vivid, rich colour is taking centre stage as people want to spark a new kind of joy and create playful paradises,” she explains.

Image source: robertharding** /** Adobe Stock

The driver behind these colours is social media, where people gravitate toward experimental colour and intense experiences, says Laurie. And it makes sense — in the visually noisy social world, bright, bold images have the power to grab our attention. On social, colour has become a form of self-expression, and as these vibrant hues trend, more people join in. “It’s circular,” Laurie explains.

While the trend toward intense, saturated colour has its roots in social media, it’s spreading everywhere from retail to runways and stock libraries, which is an interesting inversion. Just a few years ago, Laurie says, fashion tended to shape colour trends and everything else followed. Now social media and other areas of design are contributing to and reinforcing trends: “While all of the shades highlighted are being seen on the street and the catwalk,” says Laurie, “we are seeing these colours show up in other areas as well, from travel to food. Some of the newest sources for colour inspiration are home furnishings, lifestyle, and beauty.”

Image source: Felix Meyer** /** Adobe Stock

Tapping into the brilliant shades of social media

The current social-media-inspired colour moment is shaping how museums win over consumers, especially as they cater to the ever-present urge to selfie. Take, for example, the Museum of Ice Cream. With its ultra-bright colours, selfie-worthy sprinkle pool, and giant ice cream cones, the museum is made for the current colour moment.

Image source: BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

Likewise, the Colour Factory is dedicated to immersive colour exhibits. Its latest project, the Manhattan Colour Walk (#ManhattanColourWalk) celebrates 265 vibrant hues collected by the group’s creative team as they walked through New York City. The brightly coloured installation (they call it a “new kind of map”) transforms walkways in the garden at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum into the perfect spot for a colour-saturated selfie.

There’s even a Museum of Selfies, which traces the roots of the selfie concept and offers patrons the opportunity to capture their own images with colourful works of art.

Jia Jia Fei, the director of digital for the Jewish Museum,, articulates the thinking behind these exhibits: “In the pre-digital photography era the message was, ‘This is what I’m seeing.’ Today the message is, ‘I was there; I came, I saw, and I selfied.‘”

Image source: Guille Faingold / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

Brands are getting in on the game, too, creating colour-rich backdrops inside their retail spaces and outdoor displays. Paul Smith has its famous cotton-candy pink wall in LA. Nike teamed up with French fashion brand Pigalle and ill-studio to drench a basketball court in surreal, iridescent gradients. And Gucci, using a slightly more subdued palette, has launched stunning building-side murals that are ideal for the fashionista selfie.

Image Source: Magnus Kramer / Adobe Stock

Vivid colours: The takeaway for designers and brands

Designers and brands know that colour is a powerful tool for communicating with consumers, creating both conscious and unconscious perceptions. So, to meet customers where they are right now, Laurie recommends embracing the saturated colours and joyful, optimistic mood of the current colour palette. If bright colours don’t make sense for your brand, she suggests that “even a small accent or a bright shade in the background could do the trick.

Image Source: Blend Images / Adobe Stock

This increase in the use of vibrant colours, and the trend’s growth out of social media, is a fascinating development. Adobe Stock is excited to help creatives understand how colour influences are changing, and how to make the most of these popular colours to really get consumers’ attention. Partnering with Pantone on colour is part of our larger mission to consistently communicate where interest is growing in the visual world, and help brands and the creative community stay ahead of curve. And of course we work with these industry trends and insights to develop our stock collection.

The Institute expects the current colour trend to continue through the summer of 2020.

Image Source: dijanato / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

More on bright colours and playful paradises

To see more ways artists are using these brilliant colours, visit our curated gallery of Adobe Stock. And if you’re drawn to the joyful, escapist undertones of this colour palette, read more about our recent visual trend Creative Reality.

Image Source: Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy /** Adobe Stock**

Topics: Design, Pantone Colour, Social Media, Trends, UK, UK Exclusive, Creative EMEA

Products: Stock, Creative Cloud