Pantone Announces Two Colors of the Year…Again!

For the second time in its history, The Pantone Color Institute has made an unexpected move, again – they chose not one, but two Colors of the Year. The only other time this happened was in 2016 when Pantone chose Rose Quartz and Serenity. This year, following an unprecedented year, Pantone chose two colors of the year as they did in 2016. For 2021, the Colors of the Year are Illuminating and Ultimate Grey.

Pantone Colors of the Year
Image Credit: Pantone

Who is Pantone?

Pantone started off as a commercial printing company in 1956. They are known for their proprietary system: The Pantone Matching System (PMS). The Pantone Matching System is a universal color system that is primarily used by the graphic design, interior design, commercial design, and fashion design industries.

The color system ensures that colors used, match, no matter what equipment is used to make the color. It is more than likely also the reason they are also known as the color experts!

For those of you who have a Pantone Color or PMS color for your brand, this is the company responsible for your unique brand color. And, this is the company that has made it possible for you to create a consistent brand across all platforms and mediums. If you don’t have a Pantone Color selected for your brand, it’s time you found it if you’re looking for a consistent brand image.

Since the year 2000, the Pantone Color Institute gather together to decide on a Color of the Year for the following year. The process is more than choosing a random color and calling it a day. It’s a combination of thoughtful consideration and analysis of trends. For example, in 2016, Pantone chose a Pink and Blue combination. They saw these colors fitting as this was the time where the demand for gender equality and unisex clothing increased in demand.

What is the Color of the Year and What is it Used For?

Think of the Color of the Year more like a theme for your year. It is based on global trends in the fashion and retail markets and used as a guide to influence the products they develop, purchasing decisions across multiple industries, including fashion, and interior and industrial design. Product packaging and graphic design also play a role. Think Sephora when they used 2012’s Tangerine Tango to develop and market their new makeup line.

Why did Pantone Choose Illuminating and Ultimate Grey?

According to Pantone, Illuminating and Ultimate Grey come together as two different elements to support each other.

“Practical and rock-solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly,” stated Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of The Pantone Color Institute, “The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock-solid, but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”


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