The familiar brown color of UPS delivery trucks and uniforms is an iconic part of the company’s brand image. But have you ever wondered exactly what shade of brown UPS uses? Identifying the precise UPS brown color can be tricky since it can look slightly different depending on lighting conditions and the material it is printed on. In this article, we’ll examine the origins of the UPS brown color, how it has been defined over the years, and what the current official UPS brown colors are for print, web, and other applications.
History of the UPS Brown Color
UPS first adopted its signature brown shade in 1916 when the company switched from using bright red vehicles to the pullman brown color used by railway express freight cars of the day. This early UPS brown was a very dark reddish brown that served well to hide dirt and wear on the trucks.
Over the decades, UPS continued to refine and standardize the brown color to maintain brand consistency. By the 1950s, UPS brown had evolved into a slightly lighter and less red tone. Then in 1961, UPS commissioned industrial color scientists at DuPont to formulate an exact match of the UPS brown being used at that time. The result was DuPont #20057, created specifically for UPS.
UPS Brown continued to be tweaked and lightened during the 1970s-1990s. In the early 1990s, UPS switched from using CMYK printing to Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors. This led to the creation of several new official printed color swatches.
Defining the UPS Brown Color
Part of the challenge in identifying the UPS brown color is that it needs to be defined differently based on the intended use: print, web, uniforms, trucks, etc. Here are some of the main ways UPS Brown has been codified over the years:
Pantone Matching System (PMS)
For professional printing applications, UPS brown is defined using Pantone colors as follows:
– PMS 462C – Used for most packaging, labels, and promo items
– PMS 4625C – A darker brown used for uniforms and upholstery
– PMS 4695C – Lighter than 462C, used for letterhead and brochures
For 4-color CMYK printing, the most commonly cited UPS brown is:
– C:23 M:45 Y:100 K:18
However, CMYK mixes can vary somewhat based on the paper color and ink density.
For web and digital uses, UPS RGB brown colors include:
– RGB: 112, 76, 50 – Main UPS Brown
– RGB: 91, 56, 40 – Dark Brown
– RGB: 145, 101, 71- Light Brown
The official UPS Brow HEX values are:
– #704C32 – Main UPS Brown
– #5B3828 – Dark Brown
– #916747 – Light Brown
The proprietary DuPont paint color used on UPS trucks and uniforms is slightly different from the company’s print and web colors:
– DuPont #20057 – Original 1961 UPS truck body brown
– DuPont #40106 – Lighter brown used on uniforms
What Does UPS Brown Look Like?
To help visualize the different UPS brown shades, here is a comparison chart:
As you can see, while the shades are close, there are subtle differences between print, web, and uniform versions of UPS Brown. The PMS and RGB colors match very closely, while the uniform brown is slightly lighter and more yellow-brown.
Variations in UPS Brown
While those color codes define the official UPS brown, there are some variations you may encounter:
– On UPS trucks and uniforms, fading from sun exposure can lighten and subtly alter the brown over years of use. New uniforms and freshly painted trucks will match the official DuPont colors more closely.
– Depending on lighting conditions, UPS brown can look slightly lighter or darker. Morning and afternoon sunlight often brings out warm red undertones in the color. Under office lighting, it can look more subdued.
– The brown may look different based on the material it is printed on. A glossy cardboard package often shows the color differently than a cotton uniform or vinyl truck decal.
– Older silkscreened logos and uniforms used CMYK mixes that diverged somewhat from today’s PMS colors.
So while UPS brown has been carefully defined over the decades, context plays a role in how the color is perceived.
The Meaning of UPS Brown
The unique UPS brown has deep roots in the company’s brand identity and services. Here are some of the meanings associated with UPS brown:
– Reliability – The early pullman railroad brown conveyed dependability and trust.
– Friendliness – Warm brown feels more approachable than cold metallics or bright colors.
– Heritage – UPS brown connects today’s services with nearly 110 years of delivery history.
– Recognition – UPS brown is instantly recognizable from a distance.
– Consistency – Standardized branding retains customer familiarity.
– Professionalism – A mature color that inspires confidence and competence.
So while UPS brown is certainly distinctive, it was chosen carefully to reflect the character and heritage of the company.
The iconic UPS brown has evolved over the decades but retained its essential earthy, warm spirit. Thanks to Pantone, RGB, CMYK, and DuPont codes, UPS brown can be faithfully reproduced in any medium. While small variations occur in the wild, the heart of UPS brown lives on as a key part of the company’s identity. So next time you see those familiar brown trucks and uniforms, you’ll know the unique story behind UPS’ enduring trademark color.