Trends: How Do You Speak Color?

February 27, 2020

We know, we know … that’s a complicated question. But think about this: If you were to design a poster with bright yellow colors, and your friend on the other side of the country wanted to make the exact same poster, you’d probably need to share details, right? One of those details is clearly the color of the poster. You could just say, “Make it yellow,” but as we all know, there are many shades of yellow. Finding the right shade of yellow is precisely the kind of problem a company called Pantone was trying to solve in the 1960s. To clarify exact colors and shades, the company designed the Pantone Matching System. Many colors are created by combining the CMYK colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), but Pantone’s system created many more color varieties and assigned number codes and names to go with them. So when someone in New York says “Tangerine Tango,” someone else in San Francisco knows exactly which color that is.

Why are we talking about Pantone, anyway? Well, each year for the past twenty years, the company has released its “Color of the Year.” The chosen color this year? Classic Blue. The company says it looks at current trends to pick the next year’s color, and in the case of Classic Blue, Pantone says, “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”