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'Dopamine' colors are giving the internet a vivid new look

How the "dopamine dressing" trend—dressing in colorful, happiness-inducing hues—is making its way from fashion to our screens.

An oversized, shaded tie dye squiggle stretches from the left to right-hand side of the composition, and is placed over a black background. A colorchip that reads "toxic green" sits over the green part of the squiggle, indicating its color.

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First, there was "dopamine dressing"—dressing in colorful, happiness-inducing hues. Now, the trend is making its way from fashion to our screens.

Bright, bold, and vivid color palettes are all over the web right now, and that makes sense considering how exhausting and demoralizing the past few years have been. “Color is the perfect catalyst to lifting spirits,” says David Heasty, co-founder of Triboro, which recently employed neon yellow for a Marc Jacobs project. “Faced with pandemic blues, who would want to design something in monotone?”

Images 1-2 via Paard. Images 3-6 via Mire. Images 7-8 via Somerset House.

Fewer and fewer designers, it seems. Also inspired by the reemergence of 70’s-era psychedelia, sites are serving a rainbow of optimistic color to dazzle and delight the eye. Just look at the branding for Seth Rogan’s weed accessories brand Houseplant, Nike PlayLab, the U.K.'s Somerset House, and a wellspring of agencies like Paard and Mire. New York-based agencies 2x4 and Morcos Key developed a playfully chromatic design system for the Children’s Museum of Qatar, aptly called Dadu (which means "play" in Arabic). Droga5’s branding for its affinity group, &, offers a rotation of ampersands in different styles and hues.

Color is also cropping up in TV with motion graphics and interstitials for the Tribeca Film Festival and Minx, both designed by Pentagram in 2022. (Shrill’s and Girlstitle cards are early forerunners.) The trend is also bubbling up in food and beverage: &Walsh developed the brand identity, including web and digital collateral, for wine subscription service Stompy that’s positively sloshing with color; and prebiotic soda brand Poppi went with a bright color palette (which looks like a vibrant version of its competitor, Olipop) to add some punchiness and fun to health beverages without ABV.

There are also practical benefits to using a bright color identity, according to Heasty. “From a graphic perspective, bright color is an easier tool to deploy than imagery,” he says. “It grabs your attention and is often universal in its appeal.” So if you’re a new brand that wants to stop user scrolls and catch eyeballs? Strong color choices can help you do just that. One thing is clear: in 2022, color is grabbing everyone’s attention.

Explore the full trends report here.