Recognized as the world authority on color, the Pantone Color Institute guides leading brands in their color choices. Vice President Laurie Pressman looks to 2024 trends, how her team selects them and her best practices when it comes to color strategizing.
How do color trends emerge?
Laurie Pressman: Color is a language of expression. Every color conveys its own unique message and meaning. Trends in color emerge as a result of what is taking place in the culture. For example, as our concerns about the environment grew we looked to colors coming from nature – greens, blues, even more earthy browns and orange tones. And of course organic neutrals.
What are the colors of 2024? And why were these selected?
A number of macro influences have influenced color direction for 2024. Our desire to spend time in nature coupled with our focus on health and wellbeing is coming through in refreshing, watery aqua blues as well as cooler, serene and meditative blue shades. Vivid teals and turquoise shades play into this as well as do herbal, oxygenated greens. Energizing shades that speak to our desire for uplift come through in joyful oranges and sunny yellows. Passionate reds and pinks and intriguing purples and lilacs empower and help us to individualize and stand out. Looking for comforting warmth natural and organic browns and nurturing off whites and beiges come to the forefront. Unshouty chic tones play a role as we look for quiet elegance. We see these in a range of grays and the perennial pairing of black and white.
How do you adapt to regional differences?
One must always account for regionality and context when making color decisions, however, how we react to regional differences can depend on the product category or environment. Some trends may be less suited to particular climates, especially when it comes to home interiors so maybe these are not adapted or colors are shifted.
How can you keep a brand’s image while adapting to the differences between countries?
The goal is to maintain brand integrity so perhaps it is just the brand logo color and primary packaging color that stays consistent while the rest changes. A color palette or color on its own can only become iconic if consistently maintained.
How do you work with luxury brands?
We work with them in a similar way to how we work with other brands. It is always about understanding brand vision, tying the salient characteristics of a particular color to the brand so we can help them leverage the power of color to tell their story.
What parameters should luxury brands consider when choosing their colors?
They should consider audience demographics of their current customers and who they are trying to reach as well as longevity of the color statement. Decisions about color may be different if the plan is for a short-lived product versus something that will be sitting on shelf for years to come.
Packaging is key in terms of desirability. What is the weight of color?
Color carries a huge weight as it is the first thing we see, the first thing we connect to; it is a visual identifier and the first thing we look to. It becomes your 'calling card'. At the same time color does not act entirely on its own. Unique icons, package structure, imagery and typography also play a strong role.
What are the mistakes not to be made?
It's essential to consider the message and meaning of a color and how it will broadcast your brand's meaning and image. Know your audience demographic – who you currently reach and who you are aspiring to reach. This includes geographic location as well as target consumers. Not to factor these in to a color selection process would be a mistake.
Could you give us examples of successful packaging where color has played a key role?
There are a number of recent luxury introductions that struck us because their design seemed so consistent with brand values: Bruno Cucinelli, understated but with a design twist; the vibrant color story that brings a smile to your face in The Art of Happiness collab between Matisse and Guerlain; the understated sculpted design infused with color in Courrèges Seconde Peau; teaming of photographer Juliana Rocha and animator Clayton High to create the packaging for Marc Jacobs' latest version of the Daisy perfume line.