What comes to mind when you think of Winona State University's color?
The typical answer, judging by what you see around campus, in the bookstore, and online, is purple. This is further reinforced by phrases like "purple pride" and the implementation of the "purple pass." But what really is Winona State purple?
I began to ask myself this when I looked around campus at the different signs and features. The purples slightly varied, from reddish purples to purples that could easily be mistaken for blue. I made it my goal to figure out exactly what this "Winona State purple" really was.
To do this I went around and took picture of various purple elements on campus. I attempted to find anything that appeared official, or had the Winona State logo on it.
Unfortunately, this is far from scientific research as there were many variables at play. While I used the same camera for each picture, some items were indoors, and others were outdoors. Different spaces had different lighting which affected both the brightness and the hue of the purple. Also, many products could have been issued with a production stock purple, rather than a specific set color chosen by a buyer.
The following are the images I took. Beneath each I have sampled three colors from the picture in an attempt to grasp a wide range of colors to be averaged later.
1. Krysko Commons directory sign - Krysko Commons
This sign can be found by entering Krysko from the door closest to the West Campus Shuttle, going down the stairs towards the Student Activity Center, and looking to the left.
2. Event poster - Krysko Commons
By the time this is published, this sign will have been removed, but this was found immediately after entering the aforementioned door.
3. Hand Sanitizer Dispenser - Krysko Commons, SAC
This dispenser can be found in the SAC a few steps away from the sign from #1.
4. Health kiosk sign - Krysko Commons, SAC
There are a few of these located around campus, but this one is in the SAC a couple feet away from the hand sanitizer dispenser.
5. Campus directory sign - Outdoors
This is one of many signs that can be found outside. This one can be located logically based on the contents of the sign.
6. Campus banner flag - Outdoors
This is again, one of many banners that can be found around campus. This one is located outside of Phelps Hall facing Pasteur Hall.
7. Advert for the Winonan - Maxwell Hall
If you walk into Maxwell this will be on the wall you are already facing. It is next to the small staircase and near the Admissions Office.
8. Winona State Homepage - Online
This adds another variable to the experiment as this was not taken with a camera. This is a screenshot of the Winona State Homepage.
There are so many different shades and hues throughout the photos! The following chart is a compilation of these color samples. The RGB value of each color displayed in text over the sample.
For those who are unfamiliar, RGB stands for Red, Green Blue. It's a color code presented as a ratio, like how a box of food dye will tell you to use three drops of red and two drops of yellow. The numbers code how much of each base color is in the mix.
Now that numbers have been associated with the colors, each picture's color (presented in the horizontal rows) has been averaged and presented in the fourth column. The last color on the right is a mass average of all of those colors.
The mass average looks pretty accurate, right? When I think of the color purple, and then I think of Winona State Purple, 76:44:118 is something I might pick out of a line up. That's just my personal opinion.
But that wasn't enough.
Doing a little bit of searching, I came across this official Winona State document (last updated on 10/02/2015) that states the official "Winona State University Purple" as "PMS Pantone Violet." It's not even Purple. It's Violet, more specifically: 51:48:146. I added this color to the chart on the far right for comparison.
It amazed me how blue it looked. When I've been told repeatedly that Winona's color is "purple," this color does not match up with the mental image I'd had. What surprised me the most was how it compares to each individual picture. The website's purple (last row) which I had always critiqued as seeming too blue, was completely off, having a lower level of green than Pantone Violet. In fact, the closest two colors are the unsurprising flag banner (row 7), and the wildly surprising hand sanitizer dispenser (row 2). When I took the picture of the hand sanitizer dispenser, I was slightly worried that it would negatively affect my data. It was very reflective, and it seemed like the least official thing on campus. It's a hand sanitizer dispenser! But lo and behold, it matches up fairly well with the official Pantone Violet.
Now while this "Pantone Violet" may have the University's stamp of approval on it, I do not believe that it properly convey's the color of Winona. As you can see from the pictures, and as you can see walking around campus for yourself, Winona's purple is fairly arbitrary and includes a diverse array of shades and hues. The true Winona color is not a name listed in the "Winona State University Publications Graphic Identity Guidelines," but instead is a combination of the colors used around campus. After all, what is a whole other then a combination of many smaller parts? Since Pantone Violet is not strictly enforced throughout campus, it is my firm belief that there is no true Winona Purple, and that your best bet, is probably the combination of what's really out there, 76:44:118.