War Paint: 2012 Color Forecast

By Jack Bredenfoerder

Color captures our attention and expresses our unrest and concern.

The world of color is currently experiencing a time of fiery reds and ashy grays. It is inspired by the burning desire for new direction, stability and change.

2011 brought the appearance and growth of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, the Coffee Party, the Free Tibet movement, Japanese anti-nuke campaigns and European anti-austerity protests.

2012 promises to be an even more contentious year, as we see these global demonstrations and debates continue to gain momentum. The volatile global climate will cause colors to explode!

Established bright liberal blues and fiery conservative reds will continue to do battle, but many people in the middle are becoming tired of the conflict. They are tired of retreating to the neutral gray position.

2012 will be a time for greater personal expression and taking charge of one’s destiny. Everyone will be immersed in floods of color as people apply their tribal war paint and express their most important concerns.

The Climate of Color
A social, economic and political climate such as this hasn’t been seen since the turbulence of the late 1960s and will inspire brighter, multi-colored, expressive combinations.

Strong, unexpected – even clashing – color combinations will express individuality. The neutral gray morass will be brushed away with a few decisive and committed strokes. A dramatic multi-colored phoenix will arise from the gray ash of Middle-earth.

The fiery reds will burst into full flame. They will be transformed into bright oranges, yellows and fuchsias. These hot new combinations are industrial and cautionary. They say, “Don’t mess with me.” and “Don’t you dare rain on my parade!”

Clean bright glowing greens, teals and turquoise vibrate next to them. The rainbow is on fire and the secondary colors are rising to take the primary role. Bright purple establishes a new lead – it’s neither blue nor red, becoming the color of alternatives, hope, agreement, compromise and a new concordance.

The value and strength of the color story will now be more important than the hue. Unexpected and even clashing combinations will abound. Special effects will be used to add even more emphasis to the color communication. Color will be shouting as the masses go to war!

Inspired by fall’s fashion runways, Jack Bredenfoerder created these colors for 2012.

Battling Brights
2012 will bring strong and heated communications. The people will be shouting to be heard and seen. Battling Brights will serve them well.

Concordance Purple    R84 G41 B227
Shout It Out Orange    R252 G113 B64
Show Me the Green    R9 G198 B84
Listen Up Yellow    R248 G216 B36
Perfectly Clear Aqua    R35 G156 B164
Proclaim It Pink    R222 G91 B131
Obviously Orchid    R190 G0 B234
Make It Right Red    R240 G14 B25
Liberation Blue    R0 G81 B245

Seeing the Lights
Lighter, clearer colors will be used to express new ideals and vision. They are the colors of new dreams. White continues as the guiding light. Hope is eternal.

Compassion        R144 G175 B248
Returning Sunshine    R237 G238 B135
Dream Cycle         R240 G180 B139
Clear Vision        R152 G222 B225
New Idea        R186 G222 B131
In Touch        R253 G174 B170

No Longer Neutrals
Neutrals, especially grays, are ubiquitous. The growing need for personal expression in 2012 will challenge this neutral position. It’s time for the true colors to show!

Borderline Lavender    R157 G159 B181
Grabbing the Gold    R185 G166 B105
Taking It Teal        R120 G160 B170
Giving Green        R138 G178 B141
Saving Pennies    R196 G120 B83

Defined Deeps
Black is the color of strength and resolve – it will be very important in 2012, but it will be combined with rich, defined colors that will give it even greater resolve.

Loyalty            R37 G10 B98
True Blood        R154 G44 B48
Native Land        R65 G100 B50
Solid Gold        R179 G123 B28
Conviction        R97 G14 B68

RGB color notations are used to maximize the color gamut. Set your high-definition monitor to the millions of colors mode and calibrate per your manufacturer’s recommendations.


Jack Bredenfoerder is director of bv color strategy and a seasoned color design and marketing professional with more than 19 years of brand design experience specializing in color strategy, trends and forecasting. Jack’s perspectives on color have been featured in leading business, consumer and design-industry trade publications including the Financial Times, the New Yorker, Communication Arts, ID and Advertising Age. He has also served as an advisor to HGTV.

Copyright 2011 bv color strategy.
Forecast and imagery by Jack Bredenfoerder CMG.
Published with the written permission of bv color strategy.

Diggin' this content?

Join 16,000+ fellow graphic designers!

Get PaperSpecs' weekly tips and inspirations straight to your inbox.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


© 2002 - 2017 PaperSpecs

Forgot your details?