What Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year Can Teach Us
January 17, 2019
In December, Pantone — the accepted authority on color — unveiled its “color of the year” for 2019.
Pantone describes Living Coral as “social and spirited…symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits.”And at a time when we all need a boost in spirit, Living Coral is being welcomed with enthusiasm by fashion experts, influencers and creatives alike, and has provided plenty of creative ideas for incorporating the color into our daily lives.
As a designer, the idea of choosing a color that is so deliberately optimistic resonated with me. I’m trained to take in the world around me and distill it into visuals that resonate with the public, and when you look at the environment today, you can see fragile beauty in peril, like coral reefs disappearing in warming seas. In fact, Laurie Pressman, vice president of Pantone’s color consulting unit stated that Living Coral is meant to be present and capture “the arresting beauty we see in nature and the importance of preserving the environment.”
Color and its use in branding and advertising is extremely important. Our brains are programmed to respond to color, so designers are constantly thinking about how we can best use color to communicate a clear intention. Pantone’s use of Living Coral is a great example of how color can be both appealing and meaningful, thus accomplishing the greater goal of communicating a clear message and reaching broader audiences.
For instance, if you look at Grisko client Ventra you will see the Ventra Blue, and you will also see 11 other different and vibrant hues of blue we harnessed to give the brand energy and creativity. Because of this, all materials, like the new Ventra Card, stand out and excite people about the brand.
Pantone has taught us that color is so much more than a trend. The reach and pervasiveness of a color-based campaign can tug on audiences’ emotions and assumptions. The biggest names in consumer brands rely on color to make their brands memorable and even iconic. Coca-Cola Red (Pantone 485) = classic. Tiffany Blue (Pantone 1837) = high-end sophistication. Because of the color consistency, people create personal perceptions about these brands, just based on their color alone. Color matters.
When thinking about how to use color, here are a few important things to think about.
First, what do your colors mean to your brand? Colors don’t stop with your logo or branding. Every color has emotional and psychological meaning, which can be utilized to strengthen your materials. For instance, green can communicate honesty, health and growth, and its perception in the human brain is known to increase productivity—and even thirst. Red communicates passion, excitement and youthfulness, it can even raise the human pulse.
Second, what is going on right now? Pantone chose a color to symbolize the environmental concerns in our world today. Whether you are choosing colors for a brand or even working within your existing brand, consider current events and trends as you make your decision.
Lastly, how will color impact your brand/project? Pantone describes Living Coral as “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” They were clearly thinking about how this color would look on their website, in videos, on print materials, etc. They use complimentary colors with it, to add more energy to the already lively color. When you pick your palette, it’s up to you to ensure you are strategic and thoughtful about the choices that make your client look their best. Sometimes this will mean using less, sometimes this will mean adding more. It takes a holistic view of the color, the brand and message to know what the materials or campaign need, and that’s when the best work comes to light.
January 17, 2019