How Pantone 2021 Colors Of The Year Will Impact Creatives


The year 2020 was full of surprises that have shaken us all. From an ongoing pandemic crippling the world economy to drastic changes in workplaces and patterns, we’ve all been stirred up by it. But the one side that has been arguably affected the most would be the creative side. From merch designs to product designing to creative work in general, everything has changed drastically. But in all of this, Pantone 2021 colors of the year emerge as the ray of hope in the creative world.

Their careful choice of the two colors represents hope and resilience, which each of us needs in the coming year.

Wondering how that is the case? Let’s take you on the road to discovering the Pantone 2021 colors of the year and how they will impact creatives globally.


What You Need To Know About Pantone Color Institute

Let’s start with a brief introduction to the Pantone Color Institute. Without a doubt, Pantone is a leading color authority around the world. They aim to provide insights into colors and how they can strategically affect businesses and product designs. Their identified color trends and color education has inspired the vision of several design businesses. And continues to do so!

For over 20 years, before the start of every year, they announce the year’s color that happens to reign throughout. And this time, they’ve selected two colors for the year 2021. Before that, 2 colors were selected in 2016 as well; Rose Quartz and Serenity. They were pale pink and blue hues. And now, we have a promising combination of the two colors that very few people could have imagined.

Nonetheless, we all have high expectations for them.


Pantone 2021 Colors of the Year Unveiled!

So Pantone 2021 colors of the year are… *drum roll, please* Ultimate Grey and Illuminating.


“It’s a combination that speaks to the resilience, the optimism and hope and positivity that we need, as we reset, renew, reimagine and reinvent.”

-Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, in a video call along with the executive director, Leatrice Eiseman.


Their specifications are as follow:


Ultimate Grey:

Ultimate Grey is a medium grey shade. The color code is 17-5104. The RGB value for the color is 147 149 151, while the HEX value is 939597.


Source: Pantone Color Institute



Illuminating is a bright yellow shade. The RGB value for the color is 245 223 77, while the HEX value is F5DF4D.


Source: Pantone Color Institute


Also, note that the color values will differ between the Pantone color finder and the Pantone color bridge guides. But don’t worry, it’s only because of different color standards for print and digital use.


So, What Are The Psychological Implications of These Colors?

Well, before we get into the specific psychological implications of these colors, you need to understand how colors determine consumer behavior. For that, we’ll suggest that you do a quick read through color theory and color palettes.

But in essence, it’s the idea that every color affects our mood. That effect often determines or at least impacts decision-making or the way a consumer feels about a product. For instance, you’d notice that most environment-friendly products are packaged in white, green, or natural shades. Ever wonder why that is the case?

The answer is simple – it’s because these colors are earthy. They have a serene effect on the consumer and makes them more likely to trust the brand because of the color’s association with Earth. Similarly, if you want to excite your audience, you’d naturally prefer the color red. It’s known for passion, excitement, and energy!

So when it comes to Illuminating and Ultimate Grey, in my opinion, there couldn’t have been a better choice for 2021. 

2020 was the year that we all faced great loss. Whether it was personal, global, or as a community, we’ve been through a lot. Undoubtedly, it has also affected the way we work and even the kind of purchases we make. This is why we’re all in need of a ray of hope and grounding. This is exactly what this duo aims to do. Illuminating is the color for hope and sunshine, while Ultimate Grey is the hue of stability that we need.

Together, it’s a powerful combination that would both soothe and inspire consumer behavior. I mean, look at the colors in action. Aren’t they beautiful?


Source: HypeBae


Here’s what Pantone’s executive director, Eiseman has to say about the choice of these colors,

“What we were trying to demonstrate was how you have different elements that come together, and it’s that coming together that expresses the strength and the hopefulness.”


Will This Have A Trickle-Down Effect Across Industries?

Let’s get to business now and answer the looming question over creatives and marketers; will these colors have a trickle-down effect across industries?

In a nutshell, yes, it will. And we’re not just talking about the design and marketing sphere. These colors will rule across multiple industries. In fact, we can already find several examples of these in the fashion industry, where shades of Ultimate Grey and Illuminating were seen on the Spring 2021 runways.

Illuminating was spotted across apparel and accessories, including Collina Collina Strada.


A look from Collina Strada Spring 2021 collection


Similarly, Ultimate Grey can be seen in various high-end designer wear and accessories. These include Michael Kors and Nina Ricci, to name a few.


A look from Michael Kors Spring 2021 runway


And this isn’t just one isolated example. Earlier in the year, when Pantone announced Classic Blue as the 2020 color of the year, even Apple followed through with it. In October, they announced a new line of iPhones, many of which are the Pantone blue. In fact, the iPhone 12 Mini is exactly the shade of Pantone’s color of the year. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.


Source: Business Insider


But even that alone isn’t the reason why these colors are bound to rule. We live in a modern world where 85% of consumers strongly maintain that colors influence their buyer behavior. Moreover, the Pantone Color Institute practically owns the U.S. color industry, which means a trickle-down effect is bound to happen.


Final Word

So we’d be leaving you with the big question, as creatives and designers, do you think that there’s a need to re-evaluate your product designs and color to include these two hues in your upcoming projects?

And don’t stress out if you can’t seem to fit these in your plans. Remember, these sparkling Pantone colors are all for hope and good that awaits us in the year 2021 (hopefully)! So channel the inner goodness of your creative side and let it show in your work.

Also, let us know your opinion on the selection of Ultimate Grey and Illuminating as Pantone 2021 colors of the year. We’d love to hear from you!

Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan is a storyteller, brand strategist, and growth manager at GoVisually. She loves creating value-driven content for creative professionals.
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