They study children’s animation, paintings and trends in TikTok: how the Pantone Institute chooses the “color of the year” and why

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They study children’s animation, paintings and trends in TikTok: how the Pantone Institute chooses the “color of the year” and why

Initially, the campaign was social: in 1999, the color of the “serene sky” was supposed to give people hope. Then it became marketing.

Colors of the year according to Pantone. Source: Looka

Summary of The Hustle note.

“He who controls the color controls the world,” said writer and journalist James Woodhausen in 1994.

In the 2020s – the digital age – the statement seems unconvincing, but on the threshold of the 2000s it gained force. While society was afraid of the approaching millennium, gossiping about the possible end of the world and what to do if one day technology fails, the head of the printing company Pantone thought: we need to give people at least some hope.

He turned to the head of the color institute of the same name, Leatrice Eisman, and asked her to choose a shade that would characterize the 2000s. She agreed that color can become a “ray of light” in dark, troubled times, and chose “the color of the sky on a calm day” – Cerulean.

Source: Giuseppe Fabiano

Pantone’s debut campaign was discussed in newspapers around the world, and Pantone itself, as a company and an institution, became known outside of purely design circles.

Before this, it was worth mentioning Pantone among ordinary people, as they would say – “It looks like shampoo, right?” or “Oh yes, that’s right, this is the famous Italian dessert,” (thinking about Pantene and panettone).

They simply hadn’t heard of Pantone until the Color of the Year campaign began to take off.

Leatrice Eiseman, head of the Pantone Color Institute

Leatrice Iceman. Source: YouTube

The “color of the year” is determined the year before, and it determines the coming year

The American company Pantone began in the 1950s as an ink and printing company, but gained worldwide fame by creating an alphanumeric standard, thanks to which an Italian textile mill can know for sure what a US designer meant when he spoke of “cobalt blue.”

{ “osnovaUnitId”: null, “url”: ” “place”: “post_inside”, “site”: “vc”, “settings”: {“modes”:{“externalLink”:{“buttonLabels”:(“\ u0423\u0437\u043d\u0430\u0442\u044c”,”\u0427\u0438\u0442\u0430\u0442\u044c”,”\u041d\u0430\u0447\u0430\u0442\u044c”,”\u0417\u043 0\u043a \u0430\u0437\u0430\u0442\u044c”,”\u041a\u0443\u043f\u0438\u0442\u044c”,”\u041f\u043e\u043b\u0443\u0447\u0438\u0442\u044c”,”\u0 421\ u043a\u0430\u0447\u0430\u0442\u044c”,”\u041f\u0435\u0440\u0435\u0439\u0442\u0438″)}},”deviceList”:{“desktop”:”\u0414\u0435\u0441\ u043a\u0442\u043e\u043f”,”smartphone”:”\u0421\u043c\u0430\u0440\u0442\u0444\u043e\u043d\u044b”,”tablet”:”\u041f\u043b\u0430\u043d\u0448\ u0435\u0442\u044b”}} }

The Pantone Matching System has become an industry tool, with Pantone swatch catalogs flying off the shelves for up to $9,000, and the company’s consulting services used by brands around the world.

They study children’s animation, paintings and trends in TikTok: how the Pantone Institute chooses the “color of the year” and why - 1

Stories 09/15/2021


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To choose the color of the next 12 months, Eisman spends a year traveling around the world and meeting with designers, trend analysts and intercultural communication specialists to suggest what will be in high demand in the coming years.

Experts follow fashion shows, analyze new art in museums and galleries, study color palettes in children’s animation and take into account not only large-scale and local sociocultural transformations in different countries, but even what sporting events are planned and what is most often discussed on TikTok .

Predicting next year’s color is an ongoing analysis.

In order for the color to truly become iconic, Pantone, as The Hustle writes, enters into partnerships with different brands in advance. For example, the following products were released in the shade Viva Magenta 2023: a smartphone from Motorola, a Hydrow rowing machine, and Cariuma sneakers. The announcement also coincided with the Magentaverse art exhibition in the USA.

Source: Domtar Paper

Since color has become a parameter that directly affects business over the years, Pantone is not alone in trying to set the trend. Paint manufacturers Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams, for example, do the same. The first chose the muted cornflower blue Blue Nova as the color of 2024, and the second chose the dusty sky blue Upward.

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According to Benjamin Moore, sales of paints in the named shade increased by 400%. Sherwin-Williams says that after the announcements they see a 30% increase in the sale of paints – cardboard or wooden paint samples

Companies don’t insist that their goal is to create demand, but they consider it a victory to inspire someone or spark controversy.

Blue Nova. Source: Fashion Trendsetter Upward Source: Martha Stewart

Analytical WGSN also makes forecasts – it believes that color becomes the decisive factor for buyers in 98% of cases. Back in May 2023, the company determined the color for 2025: it was Future Dusk, a dark shade of purple.

Time will tell whether it will become popular. In this sense, Pantone chooses a more effective policy: the company announces the color of the year a month before its onset in order to stir up interest in the shade at a time when consumers are buying gifts for the holidays and thinking about purchases with a reserve for the next 12 months.

Future Dusk. Source: WGSN

Leatrice Eiseman has headed the Pantone Institute since 1985—for 37 years. And she got used to color diversity since childhood: her mother repainted all the rooms and even the piano every year. But determining color for a long period of time in the future is still not an easy task.

The company was criticized for irresponsibility in 2019, when Living Coral was named the color of the year amid mass reef deaths due to environmental problems. Environmental activists proposed replacing it with Bleached Coral – “bleached coral” (they became like this due to contamination and warming of the seas and oceans).

Pantone was also criticized for the fact that with its campaign it only aggravates the situation in the fast fashion market, provoking brands to mass produce a lot of cheap clothes in a newfangled color that will soon cease to be relevant. But the tradition – despite all the controversy – continues to live.

Skeptics think that the company makes decisions at random – surrounded by a “bunch of influencers.” But Eisman emphasizes that this is not so and the choice is very difficult: as if you have to choose which of the children you love the most.

They study children’s animation, paintings and trends in TikTok: how the Pantone Institute chooses the “color of the year” and why - 3

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Xavier Campbell

Xavier Campbell, a dynamic professional with a diverse background in customer service, software project management, and web development. With experience as a customer advisor at B&Q from 2010 to 2014, Xavier honed his skills in delivering exceptional service. Transitioning into the tech industry, he excelled as a software project manager and senior web application developer. Currently, he thrives as a marketing analytics specialist, leveraging his expertise to drive data-driven strategies. As a freelance web fanatic, Xavier immerses himself in the ever-evolving digital landscape, aspiring to become a social media expert. While occasionally facing bouts of apathy, his unwavering passion for technology and marketing fuels his drive for success.