In this episode, we take a look at the history of Canary Yellow.

In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, attempted to develop a super strong adhesive but created a low-tack, reusable and pressure-sensitive one instead. It wasn’t until 5 years later when his colleague, another 3M scientist named Art Fry, used the adhesive to better hold his bookmark at specific lines in his choir songbook.

This “Eureka” moment led to their partnership in developing a new product idea. Once they found themselves leaving messages and memos on their sticky notes around the office, what began as a bookmarking concept became a whole new way to communicate.

In 1977, 3M initially launched the product under the name Press ’n Peel in select cities, only to receive mixed results. Following a series of consumer surveys and market tests, it was re-launched as Post-It Notes two years later. It became an “overnight” success, quickly rolling out across the United States and international markets.

So how did they choose the original pale yellow colour? It was actually chosen by chance when the lab next door to the Post-It team only had pale yellow scrap paper for them to use. Now known as Canary Yellow, the colour remains a registered trademark under the company. The Canary Yellow sticky notes are so universally recognized that even virtual interpretations of a sticky note are often displayed in pale yellow.

While the Post-it product line has expanded to a wide range of colourful variations and desktop accessories, the company’s logo design has always paid tribute to it’s yellow origins.