What's So Great about Pantone's Color of the Year?

Welcome to 2021! The new year is finally here and we are SO. READY. FOR. A. CHANGE. We have opened the gates of our hearts and minds, cleansed our soul chambers of 2020’s spiritual sludge, and we are welcoming in new energies and new inspirations to kick off the new year.

The start of a new year is a wonderful time of refreshment, rebirth, and reinvention, and there are many great minds out there polishing up their best ideas and offering them to the world as launch pads to our higher selves. One such organization? Pantone, and their much-anticipated announcement of the Pantone Color of the Year.

 Babies using BooginHead Teether Blanket Blue Elephant

Pantone Color of the Year 2020, 19-4052 Classic Blue

Well, apparently we needed TWO rocket boosters to break the gravity suck of 2020 and launch us into 2021, because Pantone has picked *two* Pantone colors of the year for 2021. And they are:

Pantone color swatches 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and 13-0647 Illuminating

17-5104 Ultimate Gray and 13-0647 Illuminating.

Are you… inspired?? Don’t you feel so very 2021 just *looking* at them? … no? Hmmmm. Let’s dissect. Let’s talk about what Pantone is and what it’s trying to do, at the risk of sounding overly Miranda-Priestly-Explaining-Cerulean-to-Anne-Hathaway-in-The-Devil-Wears-Prada. Which we will never get tired of watching.

What is Pantone?

A long time ago, in the Before Times (for our purposes, pre-1963), it used to be really, really hard to talk about colors. There was no Apple FaceTime, there was no screen share, there was no internet, and we all know how everyone interprets color differently. The Pantone Color Institute was established in 1963 to standardize the way we communicate color, and the Pantone Color of the Year program was initiated in 2000. According to Pantone’s own website, “Pantone provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers.”

Mom and daughter wearing matching BooginHead gray face masks

We launched an adult gray face mask and kids gray face mask in 2020. Ahead of our time, no big deal.

Cool, so it’s a *~branding thing~*. Well, yes and no. Yes, having one universal standard everyone agrees upon certainly makes *~branding~* easier, and it’s why the McDonald’s M is going to look the same no matter where in the world you are (PMS 123 C, baby!) and that type of consistency is a pillar of good branding – it inspires trust.

McDonald's Golden Arches

Would enjoy a McFlurry from

McDonald's arches but they're green 


And this universal color language is all well and good for a printer to know exactly *what color of blue* to print for a client (have you seen all the blues? There’s hella blues), but we think the coolest thing Pantone does is trend forecasting. For people in fashion and design (hi, that’s us, actually!) it’s the most exciting time of the year, because we’re basically getting a breadcrumb trail to what colors and energies people will want to surround themselves with in the coming months. And we want to give the people what they want.

baby using BooginHead pacifier clip gray polka dots

BooginHead Pacifier Clip in Ultimate Gray, circa 2019

Pantone, just call us next time. We already knew!

So how has this trend forecasting thing played out in the past? Here’s a list of all the Pantone Colors of the Year since 2000. The very first Color of the Year? Cerulean. Take it away, Miranda.

Oh, Anne, You sweet summer child.

Why are Pantone's Colors Gray and Yellow for 2021?

Pantone calls these two colors “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.” Ok, we’re down for that. We have definitely needed strength this year. We definitely need an infusion of hopefulness for 2021, and you really can’t get more optimistic than a sunny yellow.

Baby wearing gray BooginHead teether bibBaby wearing rainbow dots teether bib with yellow teether

Truly, we do not mean to brag, but… BooginHead Teether Bibs, circa 2018/2019

But is that how it works? Does a society collectively glom on to a color or colors based on circumstances of the time? Or are we just responding to entities like Pantone telling us what color we’re supposed to glom on to? Yes! Both! No! Neither! Style trends coalesce within a massive feedback loop of influence from media, celebrities, color institutes, global politics, geopolitical turmoil, and fifty thousand other harmonies all melding together in the cultural soup of our lives. 

That’s all very heavy stuff, and the subject matter of one million unique psychology dissertations. Let’s just have some fun with it. We’re going to take a note from Pantone’s color  13-0647 Illuminating and lighten up.

Baby using gray fluff pacifier clip by BooginHead

PaciGrip LUXE Pacifier Clip in Gray Fluff by BooginHead, 2019

What do I do with Pantone's colors?

Whatever you want, honey. No pressure. We’re just here to vibe. Do you like yellow and gray together? Your options are about to explode. Give it a month or two and you’ll see it on everything from coffee mugs to throw pillows. For our part… we’ve got some good stuff coming. That we had in the works 6 months ago, Pantone. Ok, we’re bragging this time.

a bright yellow lemon

What do you think of Pantone's colors?

BooginHead is a small, independent, woman-owned business that makes the cutest pacifier clips, baby bibs, and even face masks. A portion of our monthly proceeds are donated to COVID-19 relief local and nationwide, and to the fight for a more just and equitable world. See our BooginHead Blog for details on that and our other philanthropic efforts! Happy 2021, friends!