Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year Goes Big, Bold with a Shade of Red

Pantone 2023 color of the year

Pantone recently announced its 2023 Color of the Year: Viva Magenta. Pantone picks a color leader each year, and we’ll quickly see that color show up in designs, home décor and fashion around the globe: Paint colors, shoes, coats, pillows, small kitchen appliances.

Pantone says it picked this color, which is in the red family, because it’s expressive of a new signal of strength and a rebellious spirit in unconventional times.

Using color itself in customer business communications, including billing statements and notifications, is becoming more conventional. Many clients now use color regularly in print and digital communications because color has been proven to improve readability, comprehension, retention and response. Color also serves as a surefire way to highlight any important information and to motivate consumers to take action.

With breakthroughs in print technology, it’s now affordable for companies to integrate color into high-volume customer communications. Companies often use base colors along with accent colors. For marketing or branding, color can influence impressions of a brand and prompt consumers to buy.

Color brings consumer financial documents to life

One of our financial services clients uses various shades of its brand colors of a light blue and light green to bring life to loan payment statements. The goal is to make sure consumers understand what they owe and how to pay. The client uses these two colors, sometimes putting color text in boldface, to create shaded areas for headlines and call-out boxes. Then, the secondary color can be used as an accent for emphasis. For example, headlines and payment information are in blue while green (as in “go’”) highlights the call to action.

Color is showing up all over spreadsheets and financial modeling documents, too. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, an online training and education platform for finance and investment professionals, using color for text and other content of cells helps the user understand the different types of data and the flow between pieces of data.

 Seeing red

While the new hot color of Viva Magenta would certainly add pop to any spreadsheet or statement, it’s unlikely that you’ll see it much in financial communications. The exception: If it’s being used to draw attention to an urgent message or payment that must be addressed promptly. That’s because red can promote very specific emotions − anger or alarm or even STOP. As a result, it is perceived as too harsh if used too much in documents.

There is a growing field of study, color psychology, that analyzes how color influences human behavior. William Bazley, assistant professor of finance at the University of Kansas, has written in the publication Management Science on the dangers of using red in investment communications. After all, he points out, Western cultures start  conditioning people to react negatively to documents with red back in grade school when student mistakes are marked up in red.

 Color with purpose

For business communications, such as billing statements, collection letters, welcome kits, appointment confirmations and payment reminders, using color is important because it enhances communications in multiple ways. It can:

  • improve the readability and customer experience
  • highlight text or a button to trigger a call to action such as paying a bill or making a purchase
  • develop structure or organization within the document
  • guide the reader along a specific path
  • reinforce brand standards and consistency across channels

Want more color in your critical customer communications? Contact us to get started.