2021 Pantone Color of the Year

2021 Pantone Color of the Year

The Pantone Institute announced in early December the color of the year for 2021. This announcement came as a shock to many because, for only the second time in 22 years, Pantone chose 2 colors to represent the new year. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating were chosen, and needless to say they complement each other extremely well. Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute stated that “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.”

These two colors linking together gives a feeling of strength, optimism, and unity. As we move into this new year, these feelings are incredibly important to hold on to. Let’s face it, 2020 was overall not the best year, and people coming together to move forward is the best thing we can hope for in 2021. But, it’s important to note that these two shades are meant to stand on their own, complementing and supporting each other throughout fashion, design, architecture, home decor, and more! But, why is this color important for the upcoming year?

Pantone’s Choices Tend to Follow Current Events

The 2020 color of the year was a deep classic blue. Pantone chose this color to give people a sense of calm as we moved into a new decade. This was chosen before the pandemic had broken out, but because the color of the year tends to set trends throughout marketing, design, fashion, and more it did help by surrounding us with a calm color. This mimicked the color chosen in 2000, which was a cerulean. This gave people a sense of relief as we moved into an entirely new millenium. This begs the question though, why yellow and gray for 2021?

Yellow has only been chosen as Pantone color of the year once before this year. This past selection was in 2009. Yellow tends to give off a feeling of happiness and positivity. Coincidentally, the only other time the color was chosen was after the major stock market crash that happened in 2008. Moving in the new year, Pantone wanted to set a trend and make people feel positive even if the financial state of the world was in disarray. For 2021, Pantone wants to give off a similar feeling. We are all coming off of an incredibly stressful year, and choosing another yellow color will hopefully give people a more positive feeling going into this new year.

Unlike yellow, gray has never been chosen as the color of the year. According to Leatrice Eiseman, Ultimate Gray is not meant to be soft and luxurious nor is it supposed to be dark and depressing, but rather it’s “a dependable gray.” The color is supposed to represent composure and resilience, which many of us did not have in 2020. Moving into this new year gives us the chance to have a feeling of dependability with the color being presented in all types of marketing campaigns around us.

Now, why are these two colors paired together? It’s supposed to give people a feeling of optimism and stability, which is incredibly important to have after just going through a very chaotic year. The first time that two colors were chosen for the color of the year was in 2015. Rose Quartz (pink) and Serenity (blue) were the two colors that were chosen to represent the year. These colors were meant to blend into each other to represent the advancements in gender fluidity, however, this year the two colors are meant to stand on their own. Their complementary tones are meant to support each other, which is in line with the current events of today.

How to Use the Colors of the Year

There are a lot of different ways to utilize both colors of the year. Many companies will be manufacturing products with these two colors on them, with most already having started. Nike and Marks & Spencer have already released new items incorporating the two colors, and they’re already popping up on many marketing campaigns. These colors are incredibly important for marketing, mainly because if you use them right, you will always stay with the current trend. That means you will be found by more people and the more than you are found, the more people will want to work with your business.

All designers and marketers look forward to Pantone releasing the next color of the year. No matter which industry they are in, furniture, architecture, textiles, fashion, technology, and more are going to be using Illuminating and Ultimate Gray throughout the year. So, be ready to see lots of yellow and gray sofas, toothbrushes, swimsuits, nail polish, shoes, paint options, and many more.

Now, you’re probably wondering how to get started utilizing these new colors of the year. On Pantone’s website, they have some great tips and tools for designers to use for the coming year. We also have a post that talks about the best ways to use the color. It’s a good idea to use the bright, illuminating yellow as an accent while using gray as the more stable and prominent color. For example, in clothing, have a nice gray jacket with a yellow scarf to accessorize.

Businesses can be a little bit different, considering that you’ve already chosen the colors that represent your business. The Pantone Color of the Year is not meant as a rebrand for your business every year, but to compliment it. Now, there are different colors every year and this year’s colors may not match your business’s brand, but it’s still useful to incorporate these colors. You can do a post on social media that utilizes these colors, or create a product that has them, or even have your employees work with a yellow and gray tool.

Many are looking forward to 2021 and the changes that it will bring. Pantone is predicting that this year will be a happy one with a nice stable foundation, and we all hope that their prediction is correct.

Need help designing with the new Pantone Color of the Year? J&R Marketing specializes in all things marketing ranging from website design, custom apparel, social media, and more.

Lilly Howe

Lilly Howe is J&R Marketing's social media and marketing specialist.

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