How to Embrace Pantone’s Color of the Year

Fri Feb 07 2020 /
Mackenzie Klutch

How to Embrace Pantone’s Color of the Year

Pantone’s Color of the Year has been announced and the world of packaging is about to see its fair share of blue this year.

Since 2000, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in every facet of the consumer world—fashion, home furnishings, industrial design, and our personal favorites: product packaging and graphic design. All of these categories have been affected throughout the years by the chosen color, whether we’ve realized it or not. Pantone kicked off their very first Color of the Year with Cerulean Blue. I find it fascinating that at the start of the process (and millenium) they chose a blue hue, and now 20 years later, we circle back to it—this time with Classic Blue.

Just how did the experts land on Classic Blue, and what’s so influential about a Color of the Year, anyway?

The Science Behind It All

The color spectrum is part of the electromagnetic spectrum visible to humans. It’s made up of the range of wavelengths that produce colors from red to blue, and wavelengths can be anywhere between 380 and 780 nanometers. These wavelengths are perceived and interpreted by the cones within the human eye, letting us see the world in color—about 10 million different colors, to be exact! (You can learn more interesting color facts in our Packaging Design Workflow course). Out of millions to choose from, how does someone pick just ONE to be the trendy color of the year?

They certainly don’t choose the color on a whim.

“The selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis to arrive at the selection each year. Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences.” (1)

They scour the entertainment industry, artists, fashion, all facets of design, travel destinations, new and evolving lifestyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences are not only found in conventional styles, but may also stem from new materials, textures, and effects that impact color. Relevant social media platforms and sporting events that capture worldwide attention have an impact. (1

What Does Classic Blue Represent?

Pantone’s goal for the new decade was to highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era, and they believe Classic Blue does just that. “Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge. Aiding concentration and bringing laser-like clarity, Classic Blue re-centers our thoughts. A reflective blue tone, Classic Blue fosters resilience.” (1) Most of us would agree that inner peace in these uncertain times is a worthy pursuit, and that may lead to thoughtful reflection on the past. This calming blue shade, reminiscent of the evening sky, can be the beacon to help guide us on this path.

Given the above in-depth analysis of, frankly, just a shade of blue, you might be asking—what does this have to do with packaging?

Pantone believes we respond viscerally to Classic Blue—emotionally drawn to a color we can trust. This makes it an ideal shade for many applications of graphic design. A message of honesty, credibility, and reliability will connect with consumers as they peruse the many products on any given store shelf. 

We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE Classic Blue.”

Companies are already using Classic Blue in their color palettes. Two of my personal favorites are  Sunbird Rooibos (my uncle loves Rooibos tea) and Fortnum & Mason (my favorite place to visit in London.) I guarantee the next time you are out shopping, you’ll find Classic Blue in more places than you thought. 

How to Incorporate Classic Blue

If you’re looking to incorporate Classic Blue into your next packaging design, good idea! You’ll be on trend, and people will know you’ve done your homework. The trick will be to do this while still differentiating yourself from the competition. Prime Line Packaging suggests pairing the color with textured materials like velvet, cotton canvas, vinyl, or specialty papers that will be sure to catch the consumer’s eye. Another unique take could be hot foil stamping your package to make it stand out. “The pop of metallics along with the contrast of deep blue will add a rich feel to your packaging. The foil itself will add that little bit of shine to your items, creating eye-catching pieces.” 

Personally, I would love a newfound sense of constancy and confidence, so I’m all behind the Classic Blue movement. It’s a wonderful color to start off the new decade as we expectantly look to where 2020 will take us. And I’m excited to revisit this blog in a year and reflect on how well Classic Blue actually did. 

What about you? If you were named to pick the color of the year, what would you choose?


1. “Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Introduction.” PANTONE, 2019,

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