A couple of weeks ago, Pantone introduced a new color: Love Symbol #2. It was created by Pantone in conjunction with Prince’s estate in his memory. This specific purple was created so “Prince’s unique purple shade [would] be consistently replicated and maintain the same iconic status as the man himself.”
When the news hit, one of the questions I heard was, “Can I get my own personal Pantone color?” The answer is yes, but it’s reported to be in the tens of thousands of dollars to do it. While only a handful of people have their own custom Pantone color, businesses have been doing it for years.
Even if companies don’t use a specific Pantone color, you can file for a patent on a specific color and legally claim it as your own. Some of the more popular examples are Coke Red, Cadbury’s purple, and UPS’ distinctive brown. Don’t expect to have exclusive use, though. The US Patent and Trademark Office will only grant patents to protect usage within a specific industry. Just last week, Cheerios lost an attempt to patent the color yellow used on their cereal boxes because the color was already too common in the cereal industry.
When developing a new brand, it’s important to research colors commonly used in your industry. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. But take care not to create an intentional copy. Let your creative juices flow and come up with something new.