How Pantone Selects the Color of the Year, and What It Means for Consumers
We've been talking about the Pantone Color of the Year, well, every year. The Pantone Color Institute, the leading expert on all things colorful, chooses a single hue every year that it believes will be prevalent in fashion, culture, marketing and more. For 2016, we got two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity. For 2017, Pantone selected Greenery, a lush shade reminiscent of growth and natural beauty.
The color selections always have ties to state of the world at the time. So, how does the Pantone Color Institute draw from worldy influences to select one single shade to encompass a global mindset?
It turns out the green of nature isn't the only green that is taken into account.
As Fast Co. Designs writes: "Announcing a color of the year is a simple, inexpensive way to get attention and push for some product."
By announcing a Color of the Year, companies like Pantone can boost site traffic and in-person store traffic across a variety of colors.
"The color of the year itself has sold well above the per-color average, and sales of [our] entire color range continue to trend upward," Kyle Sanchez, director of marketing for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, told Fast Co. Design.
Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, likened the Color of the Year to a "brand ambassador."
"Currently, Pantone has 95 percent brand awareness among designers and design-minded customers, due in large part to the Color of the Year program," she said.
Pantone's first color of the year was Cerulean in 1999, and was lauded as the color of "the new millennium." Since then, Pantone Lifestyle, the consumer licensing brand of Pantone, creates branded products featuring the color of the year. This is their way of marketing out the color of the year through physical products, drawing attention toward the company and the plethora of other colors in its catalog.
What's more, companies that pair with Pantone gain a bit of street cred. Pantone has become a household name, so a construction company, home improvement business or design firm that can tout a Pantone affiliation and use of the Color of the Year has some prestige.
But, while Pantone's authority on color can be trusted, it doesn't claim that its selection of the Color of the Year is a declaration that everyone must follow.
"[The color] addresses the zeitgeist, [it is] a suggestion of where to go," Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute told Fast Co. Design. "It gives creatives a challenge: How would you use this color, combine it, what's your take on it?"
The bottom line is that, whenever Pantone does declare the Color of the Year, it might not be an order for people to use that particular shade, but it's certainly a call of action for prospective customers to look at the site. So that's pretty smart marketing.