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Are FIs Embracing the 2018 Color of the Year?

March 19, 2018

Your friendly designer Alicia here with another rendition of Pantone Color of the Year trends. Let’s get down to it. Let’s talk about PURPLE. It’s everyone’s favorite color, right? Actually, blue is everyone’s favorite color (well, not everyone, but you get the point). I am fascinated by Pantone’s selection this year, titled ULTRA VIOLET.

They write: Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own. Wow. I want to meet their copy-writer.

This indigo-purple-violet-dusk color is indeed glorious, mysterious, and mystical. But…not exactly the most business friendly color (especially for FIs). Companies often shy away from purple, as it is an inherently tricky color to get right in branding. They fear purple will convey too many controversial slants. It simply is not a safe color, despite how beautiful it is. With how hyper critical social media is these days, companies simply do NOT WANT THE HEADACHE.

Last year’s Pantone Color of the Year was relatively safe: a crisp, clean leafy green color. It expressed renewal, nature and openness. FIs loved it. Bursts of leaf green were everywhere – at the teller line, in their Mid Century mod lobby chairs, in glass encased meeting rooms – you name it. It also helped that leaf green was a similar color to money, but that’s a different story.

So, let’s take a look at the credit unions and banks who are taking the plunge and embracing ULTRA VIOLET in all its glory. I am not going to lie, this was one heck of an endeavor. As you could imagine, the examples were few and far between.

First up is Case Credit Union, out of Lansing, Michigan. Their brand color is almost the exact same as ULTRA VIOLET, and it really stands out from the pack.

Check out this tweet from January 19 of 2018.

Man, these guys are on top of it! Look how much their branding pops, for the mere reason that purple is hardly ever used. The eye is drawn to it because it is underused and unique. What I want to know is whether they have incorporated ULTRA VIOLET into their branch. *books flight to Lansing*

Vibrant Credit Union out of Illinois has also embraced the 2018 Color of the year. In fact, it looks like they have embraced every color of the year. Vibrant CU describes themselves as this: Most tellers start their days with a cup of coffee—ours start with line dancing. Their motto of “Banking doesn’t have to be boring” aligns well with a brand that incorporates a unique color like ULTRA VIOLET. Royal blue just wouldn’t fly with their company culture.

Next up is Starling Bank out of England – my personal favorite website of the bunch. Not only have they embraced ULTRA VIOLET in all its purpley-blue mystique, they’ve also incorporated the universe theme that Pantone mentions in their description of the color. The result? An original, genuine, and intriguing brand from a mobile-only bank. Look how their logo pops against the inky purple. Brings a tear to my eye.

Steward Bank out of Zimbabwe is an African bank that is rocking ULTRA VIOLET.

Ok, let’s head back to the United States and talk about Jeep Country FCU, based in Holland, OH. An automobile credit union is not the first FI I would consider when I think of a purple brand. The car industry tends to slant masculine, with reds, silvers, and blues. Even more so, Jeep itself aligns with an outdoor, masculine brand…so where the heck does this purple come from? It is surprising. But boy does that dark indigo Jeep look nice against that lake backdrop.

Then there is Garden Island CU out of Hawaii, which possibly has the coolest retro logo of any FI.

During my difficult research of finding banks and credit unions that embraced ULTRA VIOLET, I stumbled upon an interesting trend. FIs may not be using the color, but financial apps are. Zelle, for example, one of the biggest P2P players (who has partnered with Chase), makes ULTRA VIOLET the focal point of its brand.

Indian AI financial app PayJo has incorporated a spot-on ULTRA VIOLET color in its brand. It is clean, simple, and bold.

Check out Albert, another financial app that uses the color. Interestingly, Albert is an app partner of Starling Bank, who also uses ULTRA VIOLET.

Oh, and guess what? PhonePe, a P2P app out of India, uses ULTRA VIOLET as well. This is the ULTRA VIOLET jackpot!


I am trying to understand the disconnect between FIs and FI apps. Why is one industry so quick to embrace a bold color but another industry so similar is not? Is it simply the difference that the digital nature of apps allow their brand to be more easily changed, whereas an FI would have to purchase new signage, collateral, branch interiors across all of their locations? Or are the decision makers in app companies less risk-adverse than their FI friends?

I hope you enjoyed this edition of FIs and the Pantone Color of the Year. Share your comments below!




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