Pantone Colors Through the Decade

Pantone has been setting the standard for color consistency for as long as most designers and advertisers can remember. In 1963, officials released the company’s first intricate color matching system, consisting of 500 colors. It was designed to create consistency across industries; textiles, apparel, beauty, interiors, architectural and industrial design as well as in all materials including printing, textiles, plastics, pigments and coatings.

Color is one of the first things consumers notice but, before this established standard, it was difficult to maintain color consistency across branded materials. For example, a print ad could include different shades than the logo – making it difficult to maintain a strong brand identity.

Pantone began announcing its “color of the year” (COTY) 20 years ago. In its earlier years, the colors were chosen to reflect the current state  and often pulled inspiration from trends or current events.

It wasn’t until the mid 2000s that Pantone’s COTY started to attract more attention and gain traction. In 2007 company officials distributed its first COTY-related press release that included a more in-depth look into how colors are chosen. Still drawing on trends and current events, Pantone also started taking into account the different emotions that are invoked by colors. For example, bright reds and oranges can represent confidence and adventure while blues, earth tones and greens (2017 greenery – also known as EG green) invoke serenity and calmness. These factors helped the company carefully choose colors based on trends, feelings and how they want the year to be represented.

Today, more than 10 million designers and producers around the world rely on the Pantone products to achieve consistency in all industries across many mediums.

At EG, we utilize the Pantone colors daily – knowing full well that it’s one of the most important elements to consider in a visual brand. It evokes emotions and creates immediate brand recognition. To learn more about the emotional pull and recognition color can create, check out some of our previous blogs – Design Rules for Senior Care are “Key”, Brand Consistency in an Inconsistent World.

As we start a new decade, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at past year’s colorful selections.

2000: Cerulean

2001: Fuchsia Rose

2002: True Red

2003: Aqua Sky

2004: Tiger Lily
2005: Blue Turquoise

2006: Sand Dollar

2007: Chili Pepper

2008: Blue Iris

2009: Mimosa

2010: Turquoise

2011: Honeysuckle

2012: Tangerine Tango

2013: Emerald Green

2014: Radiant Orchid

2015: Marsala

2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity


2017: Greenery

2018: Ultra Violet

2019: Living Coral

2020: Classic Blue