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CTI – Why are the Coors Light Mountains Blue?

Updated: May 17, 2023


The secret behind Coors Light’s Color-Changing Mountains. Those blue mountains that appear on Coors Light cans are iconic, and many consumers instantly recognize them and know that they mean the beer they’re about to enjoy is as cold as the Rockies. But not many can tell you what makes this innovative packaging feature work or why the Coors Brewing Company adopted it in the first place. Chromatic Technologies Inc. can because it’s our color-changing thermochromic ink technology that makes those blue mountains appear when the can gets cold enough, and it was our founder who first approached Coors with the idea all the way back in 2002.


In an interview recently published in the Molson Coors Beer & Beyond blog, our founder and current CEO, Lyle Small, offered some insight into how he convinced Coors to let him splash their cans with thermochromic ink. Here’s the story:

CTI was founded in 1993 by Small in his dorm room at Cornell University. There, he experimented with different stimuli that would turn inks “on and off.” While he worked with sunlight-activated and glow-in-the-dark ink, he saw the most potential in thermochromic ink – a type of ink that will change color when exposed to heat or cold.


Eventually, Small pitches the idea to Coors. The beer brand was already advertising that its product was as cold and refreshing as the Rocky Mountains, and thermochromic ink could help better communicate this to consumers while also offering them a unique experience with the product. In addition to reflecting the company’s commitment to cold, the color-changing ink could also help Coors solve a problem that plagues most beer drinkers. At the time, the company’s research had discovered that a significant amount of beer drinkers said they had a bad experience with beer because it was too warm. The simple visual cue CTI’s color-changing ink achieved was a perfect solution because it visually signified when the beer was at the right drinking temperature – around 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Blue mountains on the label or on the can = ice cold refreshing beer, just as Coors had been marketing their product as.


Coors was one of the first brands to adopt thermochromic ink in its packaging, and soon after, many others were looking for different ways they could utilize it and other kinds of color-changing ink technologies in their brand’s products. In addition to thermochromic ink, there are photochromatic inks that activate when exposed to sunlight, glow-in-the-dark inks that absorb light and shine in the dark, fluorescing inks that can identify counterfeit products, and more. These are all technologies that CTI has perfected and offer to our clients. Today, the only limitation to what can be achieved on a package – whether it’s a can, bottle, bag, or box – is a brand’s imagination.


The process for getting the thermochromic ink technology applied to cans and labels and change colors as intended wasn’t without its hiccups. But, it eventually worked because Small and a group at Coors wanted to make it happen. The packaging innovation was just true to Coors as a brand, and it’s proved to be quite the hit. Coors is now the second-best-selling beer in America, and CTI’s color-changing ink technology is undoubtedly a reason why.


Interested in learning more about how CTI and our color-changing ink technology can benefit your brand? Let’s make your brand’s packaging just as iconic as the Coors Light can! Contact us today to learn more about our inks and services.

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