Field Notes: Wired Color

Wired is not afraid of bold, eye-catching colors — just take a look at some of the covers I’ve posted previously. They’re willing to change the color of the nameplate to match the color scheme of the main visuals, and they even make frequent use of a bright yellow from which many other publications would most likely shy away. This helps Wired make a bold statement from the get-go, and your eyes are not likely to miss it when you see it on the newsstand.

While bright yellow makes frequent appearances on the cover of Wired, cyan is also a mainstay of the brand and is the color to appear most frequently within the pages of the magazine. It appears in the logo and most branding, as well as links, email addresses and taglines. It also shows up frequently as an accent color in deks, subheads, pull quotes, etc. It’s a very accessible color, as well as a hue associated with many tech companies.




Beyond that, the consistency of Wired’s color palette varies from issue to issue. Their choices lean toward the bold and bright and are usually consistent within issues — a bright green used as a dek/pull quote accent color might appear multiple times in one issue but not a whole lot in the next, and their Play department always has a color to match its monthly theme.

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In spite of their generally bold palette and eye-grabbing covers, I couldn’t help but notice they use a lot more black than I expected. Thick black rules and boxes can be found throughout each issue, in addition to a lot of bold, black display type.

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One purpose all that black serves is to create a bold (yes, I’ve said that a lot, but it’s appropriate) and maybe even edgy feel. It also provides contrast to help the bright accent colors pop.

Overall I’d say cyan and yellow are the main colors associated with Wired. Beyond those (and neutrals), a specific, consistent color palette isn’t a huge part of Wired’s identity. Even so, it maintains a distinctive voice thanks to a combination of editorial and design factors.

Nicole Vas