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The Unusual Story of Purple

Have you ever noticed while watching the Olympic Games for instance that purple is not on any national flag? This is rather strange since this tint is one of the six main colors the human eye can see. Purple, also called violet or mauve, has a very unusual story; indeed, it was reserved exclusively to powerful and rich men and women until very recently.

Furthermore, did you know that Pantone’s color of 2018 was Ultra-Violet? Both spiritual and creative, this tint is to be considered if you want to add a sophisticated or luxurious touch to your logo.

The color of kings, emperors, and popes

What do Cleopatra, Nero, and Justinian have in common? As well as being three rulers that have made an impact on their era (some positive, some negative), they were big fans of the color purple. Historically, we could only make this color with natural dyes which were rare and expensive. It is during the Antiquity era that purple knew its first golden age. The most known method to produce this color was with an enormous quantity of a certain type of mollusk located in the Phoenician city of Tyr. More than 12 000 mollusks were needed to produce 1.5 g of pure dye. It is then easy to guess that purple clothes and accessories cost an absolute fortune. Tyr’s customers were mostly from Egypt, Greece, or Roma. We also want to reassure you that even if a huge quantity was used during Antiquity, our special mollusk is still present today.

It is even said that Roman emperor Julius Caesar himself felt in love with this color after visiting the queen of Egypt. Indeed, besides the violet porphyritic stones that were used as decoration, many of Cleopatra’s pieces of furniture were upholstered with this luxurious tint. When the emperor went back to Roma, he decreed that only himself could wear a complete purple toga. Sometime later, the Roman emperor Neron and English king Henri VIII made illegal under death penalty to wear this color for others.  

The invention of modern purple

It is in the 19th century that we discovered by mistake a way to create synthetic purple. We owe this discovery to a young English chemist named William Henry Perkins. He was then working to find a cure for malaria. During an experiment, he noticed the presence of a violet residue. As you can guess, Perkins did not find a cure as he wanted at first but became very rich following his finding. Thereafter, purple became very popular, used everywhere and by everyone, especially by impressionist painters. Many criticized this overuse of violet; however, the most expensive color of all time was finally accessible to all. It was a good reason to celebrate! We can find painters Claude Monet and Andy Warhol among purple lovers.

The meaning of purple

Still today, purple is considered as a complex and enigmatic color. As mentioned above, it is still a very popular tint and was named the color of 2018. It is said that purple is a color ideal to increase your creativity and meditation; however, it is also the mourning tint for some cultures. Moreover, besides displaying power and wealth, it also unites two strong primary colors which are blue and red.

Do you have in mind some known logos with purple? No? Yet there are many! There are Yahoo, Twitch, Cadbury, FedEx, and Taco Bell to name a few! On the sports side, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and the Minnesota Vikings football team are well-known teams that use the color of kings. Some European soccer teams such as AC Fiorentina from Italy, NK Maribor from Slovenia and the FK Wien from Austria also have logos with some purple in it.

In conclusion, we all owe a debt to William Henry Perkins to have offered purple to everyone. If it has not been the case, it would probably still be a color wore only by celebrities or rich people; Prince’s famous song Purple Rain might have never existed! Purple is not an ordinary tint; on the contrary, it was the favorite color of Cleopatra, Caesar, and Monet. That is significant!  We hope we managed to inspire you to dare to use purple in your next logos!

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