Color of the Month—Purple, 2017

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Color of the Month, Feature

It’s…Complicated: Purple is Growing Up

Purple is on the move, and parents and older siblings everywhere will be relieved to hear that “Barney” purple…? We don’t love you anymore. Like a lot of colors this year, and unlike a lot of people, purple is getting quieter. “Trending purple colors are moving towards the muted-pastel or grayed-off direction,” observed Dee Schlotter, PPG Senior Color Marketing Manager. “Barney purple is out. Chameleon-like purples and rich, royal-looking purples are in.” As we’ve reported, PPG chose a purple as its color of the year, so they’ve got one that makes good on today’s purple promises and premises. “Modernized, subtle, and blended purples, like the PPG Paints™ 2017 Color of the Year, Violet Verbena, offer a comforting and pampering feeling that consumers crave in an invasive, harsh world,” said Schlotter. “Right now, the majority of consumers are craving more muted hues, instead of the bright bolds from prior years.”

Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing at Kelly-Moore Paints, agrees. “We are seeing more sophisticated purples trending now and into 2018. They are less bold and much softer,” she reported. That doesn’t mean purple will be more prominent—we don’t know yet. “While we do see several purples in forecasts this year and next, it is still too soon to announce it as more mainstream,” she said.


Purple, By George

Schlotter continues that in defiance of George Gershwin’s famous song title, It Is Necessarily So. “Through research, PPG Paints has found that less than one percent of customers choose purple paint for their walls,” she said. Still, it’s more prevalent that before. “With new consumer mindsets that embrace the middle ground between masculine and feminine, young and old, and work and leisure, purple is an extremely dominant color in the home space,” she reported. That’s how the color of the year took top honors, by taking into account how people feel about color and why. “Violet Verbena’s blending of gray and violet reflects that middle ground, and it reflects the attitudes consumers have developed over recent years.”


Purple on Parade

There are, so we’ve heard, people who paint their house once a quarter. We don’t know any of those people. But just like installing a disco ball and mirrors on your ceiling (we do know some of those people), some home décor is way too trendy to be timeless. This year’s trendy purple can pamper and placate not only for this season, but beyond, as it carries a muted tone color that can serve as a neutral and a focal point at the same time, yet won’t get tired or boring.

If you’re going to name something Color of the Year, and especially with a purple, it needs to have a lot to say for itself as well as show off some versatility. “PPG Paints’ 2017 Color of the Year is a unique violet hue with a quality that allows it to adapt to surrounding environments and complement a variety of design aesthetics,” Schlotter explained. Depending on where you put it and what you pair it with, it will show off different characteristics. “When paired with dark neutrals, it unveils gray undertones, but when paired with whites, it reads as a purer purple,” Schlotter described. “Its design appeal is similarly nuanced. Violet Verbena blends perfectly with many different surroundings. It looks polished yet playful in a child’s room, and it is calming enough to be used in hospitals or other spaces that require tranquility. The color is a modern choice for interiors and furnishings, yet it is elegant enough to be incorporated into traditional designs. Violet Verbena is colorful enough to make a statement, but it can also be considered neutral with its gray undertones.”

Customers who don’t want the exact color of the year can always use it as a jumping off point to a similar color, or wherever it takes them. Maybe a lighter or darker shade, or maybe it will lead them to green. Either way, it’s a great marketing tool for the color-confused.


Stop Screaming!

Mary Lawlor offers some swatches from Kelly-Moore; she also suggests that “in your face” purple won’t last as long as a subtler approach. “For the long haul purple, I would suggest either a washed out and pale color like Iris Ice (KM5626), a mid toned and neutral like Eastlake Lavender (HLS4246), or dark and moody like Violets are Blue (KM5633). An interesting statement—and again, it doesn’t have to be rock band loud to be interesting, pairs it with golds, greens, or chartreuse. “Those colors pair naturally with purple. Along with that, using red accents with purples will add a powerful punch,” said Mary.

If a customer is prevaricating on purple, because it’s…well…it’s purple…they can try some movable purple items first, said Lawlor. “Adding purple to interiors as a feature or accent is a great way to get on trend in a non-committal way. Be it a bookcase, interior of cabinetry or a full feature wall, adding a splash of a fun purple is affordable and an easy change if one should grow tired of it.”


Purple Partiality

Schlotter had several suggestions for Violet Verbena that will keep it fresh long after it cedes its COTY crown to another swatch. “Because of its chameleon-like qualities, it complements a variety of colors,” she said. “Combine it with a deep, rich black like Black Magic for a modern luxe look. For a light, airy palette, pair it with pastels like PPG Paints Sea Mist, a barely-there sea foam green; Oyster White, an off-white; or Peach Beauty, a light coral. To capitalize on its feminine side, pair it with PPG Paints Subdued, a muted pink; or Soothing Sapphire, a grounding navy. Violet Verbena perfectly complements earthy greens such as PPG Paints Photo Gray.” Demo these combinations—you may inspire customers to give it a try.