Just today I learned that there is such a thing as the Pantone Color of the Year. Wikipedia says that the color of each year is used by ... consumer-oriented companies ... to help guide their designs and planning for future products.

I was wondering if the Color of the Year is also used in graphic design. Did anybody encounter a job where the client requested to use the COTY in the design explicitly? Or are there guidelines in companies where the COTY is mentioned as part of their corporate identity?

  • 1
    To me, it seems patently absurd...
    – benteh
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 23:27
  • 1
    To me as well, I hoped a professional designer here might know how serious this is taken. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 23:33
  • Be interesting to see if someone has any experience with it. Though to me it seems a big pile of hogwash, I am open to be proven wrong :)
    – benteh
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 0:13
  • 1
    Interesting question, I can't help but thinking how this can be measured. If you could somehow get raw data on color usage and compare it year by year, there must be some pretty insightful information in there. However, I see other influences might be WAY stronger than Pantone's COTY. 2013's Metro colors surely had a greater weight, for example. And the new iOS colors as well. Maybe if there is no definite answer to your question you could change it to something about general influences on web color.
    – Yisela
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 21:39
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure it falls into the category of "any excuse to make a press release" line of thinking.
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 20:29

3 Answers 3


Design is all about problem solving. Sometimes, you pick a color palette because you need it to work with colorblind people. Sometimes, you study color theory and learn that certain colors evoke certain moods, so you pick your palette based on that. Sometimes, you want to be rooted in a certain historical period, so you find art and design from that time and mirror the palettes. Sometimes, you're creating or refreshing a brand you want to either 'own' a color like Tiffany or UPS or differentiate from your competition, so you look at the colors of your competitors and pick a color that's in a gap.

And sometimes, you or the client wants something that's simply modern/cutting edge/trendy. For me, Pantone's colors of the year solve that problem. In my somewhat limited experience, I've found that the colors they forecast do end up becoming part of the fashion world and in turn the design world. It's not like they pick avocado green and purses end up being emerald instead. Thus, I find it to be a reliable way of starting a 'modern' color palette.

Will a design using Pantone's color of the year end up looking dated? Eventually, probably yes. Does picking their color solve serious issues of accessibility and branding? No. Will slavishly following color trends put you in the top echelon of design fame? Probably not; that's usually reserved for people who make trends instead of following them. But using Pantone's anointed colors serves a purpose and serves it well.


the easy answer is, Yes and No...

as a professional designer, my boss directs me to use the color of the year style guide they put out, she particularly likes Radiant Orchid. so i HAVE to use it. so yes, it can directly affect graphic designers. in reality, the pantone color of the year are a forecasting for the fashion industry, they look and see what is getting popular, and inturn it becomes more popular, its a self feeding cycle.

in previous years it usually takes a few months but the colors of the year will creep into graphic web and other visual designs quietly.

this article covers it well. http://www.awwwards.com/think-in-green-selected-websites-in-shades-of-emerald-inspired-by-pantone-s-color-of-the-year.html

but of course at the end of the day, you're the designer, you can either use what pantones has to offer or not. there are just as many good examples that completely ignore the pantones color of the year release as ones that follow it well.


On my personal website I've experimented with using the Pantone Color of the Year for accent on subtitles / headings. Not really because I think its fashionable or forward thinking but more as a nod to those "in the know" that will recognize it.

The reality is most employers and clients will have never heard of Pantone let alone Pantone Color of the Year. So for me its more like a subtle inside joke for industry experts to know that I do keep up with the industry I'm in.

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