As if to stay on par with the unique nature of 2020, PantoneⓇ chose to bring a little bit of that “only in 2020” vibe into 2021.
In the first week of December 2020, Pantone released its “Pantone Color of the Year” for 2021. But instead of choosing one like nearly every other year, 2021 has two, making it just the second time a joint winner has been announced. The winners are the union of two shades: a yellow hue that carries the name “Illuminating” and an overcast-like neutral color that’s been dubbed “Ultimate Grey.”
The two colors were chosen as representatives of the pandemic and it’s subsequent quarantine. While to some, the color grey may feel melancholy, Ultimate Grey was selected to signify warmth and solidarity. When coupled with Illuminating — reminiscent of citrus and spirit — we’re provided with a feeling of there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Two colors together made the joint symbol of one idea.
The use of colors as a branding mechanism — like the relationship between Illuminating and Ultimate Gray to the ongoing pandemic — helps normalize a symbiotic relationship between two things not typically associated with one another. On the surface, colors are visual aids to understand what something is or signifies, but it goes deeper than that. In marketing, establishing colors associated with a brand taps into our past indoctrination that colors convey emotions and trigger memories. They’re attached to a brand to provide recognition — see the color, know the brand.
Take, for instance, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and their green and gold team colors. Due to the team’s rich history, the two colors, when seen together, can spark a memory of a trip to Lambeau field or the feeling of being a champion. Another example to consider is UPS and their dedication to building their brand around the color brown. Not only do uniforms, packaging, and logos incorporate their yellow and brown pantones, but they’ve built their brand around the moniker “What can brown do for you?” By leading with their colors and portraying a business that prides itself on excellence, they’re one of the preeminent delivery businesses with an unforgettable brand.
It’s human nature to connect colors with our thoughts and feelings. Colors are a portrayal of a brand’s offered experience and much as it is a form of identification. For that reason, selecting the right color to represent your brand is a key element of the business building equation.