The World’s Ugliest Colour

As bona fide colour experts, we’re well aware of the many emotional associations that can be established between a certain colour and the person viewing it. Whether happy, sad, or excited, colour tends to have a strong effect on the way we feel. So when we came across a colour that seemed to cause widespread disgust and repulsion, we just had to weigh in on it as well.

When the Australian government was tasked with redesigning tobacco packaging, their goal was to make it as unappealing as possible. Along with agency GfK, extensive research was performed over the course of three months to gain an understanding of which of all the possible colours was the least appealing. The winner, a brown-green hue called “Drab Dark Brown”.

Image by
Image by

As the colour authority for branding, we’re not one to just take others opinions as fact, so we conducted a bit of informal research among our creative team. The results? Mixed.

“The colour feels primal and probably one of the first colours developed in the evolutionary chain of colour development – It also feels like it just came out of your guts. It’s a whole bunch of colours mixed together to generate a mixture that is unappealing and disposable,” said our creative director.

One art director was a bit more complimentary. “At first glance it’s ugly, but if you think about combining it with the other colours it can be appealing. I can picture it being used well in interior design; an example would be to mix it with some oranges for a 70’s inspired space or with greens for more a nature-inspired aesthetic.”

On the more negative side of things, another art director likened the colour to a familiar and rather upsetting childhood memory. “This colour reminds me of when I was a kid going to Chuck E. Cheese’s – it’s the colour I saw when I was completely under the ball pit looking up at some other kid who happened to jump on my head. I don’t like it.”

As for the opinion of President & Chief Colour Officer Paul Haft? A simple, “I like it.”