Minion Yellow

Minion Yellow

For the first time in three years, Pantone is releasing a new hue called Minion Yellow. Based on the Minions from the Despicable Me global film franchise, Minion Yellow is the first-ever character branded color. Read on to learn more about this new color and its influence in modern graphic design and visual marketing.

Minion Yellow | Blueprint

Minion Yellow is a color that heightens awareness and creates clarity, lighting the way to the intelligence, originality and the resourcefulness of an open mind.

How did this color come about?

Are there more character branded colors to come in the future?

What is a Pantone Color?

Pantone is a standardized color matching system, utilizing the Pantone numbering system for identifying colors. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all reference a Pantone numbered color, making sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

Pantone colors are described by their allocated number (typically referred to as, for example, “PMS 130”). PMS colors are almost always used in branding and have even found their way into government legislation and military standards.

How Minion Yellow Was Created

The public has become increasingly aware of color’s influence on mood, productivity, and image. While creating the music for the “Despicable Me” franchise, Pharrell Williams had an idea to create a color that is vibrant and uplifting. At the same time, Pantone was looking to add more energizing colors to its palette, hoping to gain a greater awareness with consumers.

The Pantone Color Institute worked closely with Pharrell and the animation team at Illumination Entertainment to create a custom color to represent the sweet and subversive characters.

The Meaning

Minion Yellow is an illuminating, energetic, friendly and fun-loving yellow hue that resonates with individuals around the world. The Executive Director for the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman, says, “This is the color of hope, joy and optimism.” Minion Yellow projects playfulness and warmth. This hue suggests intellectual curiosity and enlightenment.

Trademarked Colors

Minion Yellow joins a long list of franchises that have their colors trademarked. This list includes Coca-Cola red (Pantone 484) to Starbucks emerald green (Pantone 3298C). A company is allowed to trademark a color if they can justify that it represents their brand.

Trademarking does not mean the ownership of a color. Instead, trademarking allows a company to use a particular combination and shade of colors in its own industry. Target can’t sue Coca-Cola for using a similar red because they are not selling a competing product.

Pantone Branded Colors | BlueprintSince 2004, Cadbury successfully trademarked a purple hue (Pantone 2685C) that is wrapped around their chocolate. This ruling infuriated the company Nestlé that lead to a legal dispute that lasted ten years.

In October 2013, Nestlé won the battle and Cadbury lost its trademark rights. In a last stitch effort, Cadbury sued Nestlé in an attempt to take away their ‘Kit-Kat’ shape… they lost.

Character Branded Pantones

Seen as global pop culture icons, the Minions have opened a door for Pantone to create more colors based on other franchises.

Minion Yellow was a solution to add a more energizing color to the vast Pantone family. This hue evokes awareness and hope.

Which franchise do you think will have their colors trademarked next?

By: Aaron Ward
  • Joshua Bains

    I’d pick Smurfs.

  • Jeff Cline

    Interesting read – at first it’s easy to assume that a pre-existing color number was just given a name, like the traditional “reflex blue” but it looks like this is a unique and decidedly new color after all.

    What really got my attention was the insight into the legal battles over color, with rulings quite the opposite of what I expected.

    Looks like we are truly coming to a society where brands and product choices are being simplified to the red company vs. the blue company. Nice article Aaron.

  • Victoria Vener

    Given how integral color can be to brand awareness (I keep thinking of UPS and the color brown) it’s not at all surprising that companies would be very protective when they find a color that really works for them. What’s most interesting about the Minion Yellow phenomenon is that it opens so many interesting doors. Are Minions going to be the official mascot for Illumination Entertainment, or is this just the beginning of a massive character branding trend?

  • Soletia Owens

    I love the Minions! Now that I think about putting those little characters together with their color yellow was a great idea. Because they do represent happy and sunshine. I never knew there was feud between Cadbury and Nestle over color. Great article, Aaron.

  • So at what point will we be able to trademark Blueprint Blue?

  • Adam Baxter

    Remember when Candy Crush® tried to copyright the word ‘candy’ for mobile game use. I personally think thats really dumb. Beyond that, copyrighting a color? come on now…