We now know the exact colour of Santa Claus

Santa Claus
(Image credit: 1HQ)

Only a few things are certain in this world: death, taxes and the fact that Santa Claus wears red. The history of his crimson Christmas hue is often debated (some blame early Coca-Cola ads), but have you ever wondered exactly what shade of red the big man wears? Us neither – but a new study has revealed exactly that, just in time for Christmas.

Delightfully titled 'Santone' (yes, in homage to colour authority Pantone), the shade has been calculated based on a huge amount of branding and packaging depicting Santa Claus himself. We've even been given Santa's RGB, CYMK and Hex Code – just what we've always wanted. Check out our guide to colour theory if you're looking for more inspiration, festive or otherwise. 

Santa Claus colour

We wish you a merry #e61722 (Image credit: 1HQ)

Global branding agency 1HQ sampled various Santa’s suits, featured on everything from jars of Nutella, to Coca-Cola cans and M&S advent calendars, in order to create a colour swatch of all the different shades of red currently being used. These were then combined to find an average. The result? The Christmas red to end all Christmas reds is, of course, #e61722.

"Plenty of thought goes into giving designs their best colour or colour combinations – from the psychology and emotional pull they evoke, to owning a space as a product, brand, or season," 1HQ's Matt Thom says in a press release. "Christmas offers no better occasion to pull on the emotional connection of colour, and the association of red – from mulled wine, warm fires, robins, Rudolph and of course the jolly, old bringer of Christmas cheer himself, Santa."

Photoshop colour swatch tool

Have you ever seen a more festive image? (Image credit: Future)

As for the history of Santa's red suit, it begins before those seasonal Coca-Cola ads. Indeed, the first appearance of a modern Santa Claus, complete with bright red suit, was in a series of drawings from the late 1880s by illustrator Thomas Nast (thanks, Wikipedia).

Early Santa Claus illustration

One of the oldest known illustrations of Santa Claus in a red suit, by Thomas Nast in 1881 (Image credit: Harpers Weekly)

So there we have it – you no longer have an excuse for depicting Santa Claus in the wrong shade of red, be it tomato, strawberry or, heaven forbid, chilli. All we need to know now is the exact colour of Rudolph's nose. If you're about to embark on an illustration project of your own, check out our guide to character design – and take a look at today's best Adobe Creative Cloud deals below.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.