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Here’s to a magenta year


I’m magenta. One of the four CMYK colours. We see it as dark pink but it’s actually pure red, without any other colour component. 

I like that this is the only colour named after a city. Magenta is located in the North of Italy, close to Milano. It’s known because an important battle took place there in 1859, during the Second Italian War of Independence. At that time, French chemists discovered a colouring that evoked the colour of blood on the blue uniform of the soldiers. And they called it magenta. Etymologically, it comes from Castra Maxentia, the name of the Roman general Maxentius, who became an emperor at the beginning of the 4th century. 

Like Violet, or Rose, Magenta is also a female name. Feminine energy, like the one some say will change the world. 

Those of us who work in branding consultancy know that a brand’s choice of colour is crucial. Colours produce effects, transmit sensations and perceptions, evoke memories, make us feel a certain way, and are ideological symbols. There are political parties that are distinguishable merely by their colour. Every red brand has its blue alter ego. Examples abound in banking, telecommunications, or soft drinks. Powerful brands that span immense territories and sometimes take over a whole category. 

There are very few magenta super-brands. But those that do exist stand out and take up more space than would correspond in light of their sector. The occupation effect of colour is very real. I remember that many years ago no Spanish brand could be green, even if its activity had nothing to do with the green brand par excellence. Can you guess which one it was? 

And why is Grasp magenta? Well, because out of the four basic colours there are two that I’ve always found fascinating: cyan and magenta. When I had the first opportunity to redesign an internal brand, I chose pure blue, and when I finally got the courage, many years later, to launch my own blog and company, I went with magenta. I knew it was a risky choice, and that there is a very fine line between properly using and overusing a colour. But here we are. There are things I will change soon, but the name, logo, tagline and colour of my brand will undoubtedly survive. 

Psychologically, magenta is associated with miraculous magic, with the breaking of ties, with an independence of criteria, with restlessness, with enthusiasm, and with collaboration. As opposed to very masculine or very ‘corporate’ colours, magenta or fuchsia is what some foul-mouthed people would call ‘sissy’ or ‘gay.’ Cheeky and rebellious, it is far from the colour a ‘serious’ company would choose. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much. 

And to continue with the projective exercises that we use when defining a brand’s personality, what would a magenta year be like?

How would your 2016 be if it were magenta?



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