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Don’t touch that color

swatchQuick quiz time! Fill in the blanks.

The UPS slogan: “What can _____ do for you?”

Computer giant IBM, also known as Big _____.

Target’s bullseye logo is ____.

My favorite gift box is Tiffany ___.

The answers: Brown, Blue, Red, Blue—bonus points if you identified the PMS color of Tiffany Blue as 1837, the year the jeweler was founded.

That wasn’t too tough, was it? Successful corporate logos are so imprinted in our brains because color plays a huge role in that process. Research indicates 80 percent of visual information relates to color. So it stands to reason that brand-conscious companies are trademarking and naming their logo colors to protect them, and even creating new colors to legally call their own.

But as companies seek to protect their brands, Francisco Inchauste points out, this may cause the color palette to shrink. The trademarked colors won’t appear in Pantone swatches, thus limiting colors commercial designers and artists work with.  And how will the courts deal with this?

Right now, it seems pretty black and white. But when lawsuits spring up, we could be looking at a gray area in the near future.

– Gretchen Schmidt