Classic Blue Is Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year

The hue is described as calming and timeless

Key Insights

Pantone believes a familiar color will take the spotlight in the first year of the new decade: Classic Blue.

The color standards and forecasting company announced the hue, officially named Pantone 19-4052, as the Color of the Year for 2020 on Wednesday. The reveal marks a bold switch from 2019’s Living Coral and other brighter shades like 2016’s Rose Quartz and 2017’s Greenery.

Classic Blue also supports Shutterstock’s 2020 Color Report, which features a color palette with deeper hues including aqua menthe and phantom blue.

Pantone described Classic Blue as a “timeless and enduring hue, elegant in its simplicity” that “highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

Classic Blue is Pantone’s 21st Color of the Year, a title decided by the Pantone Color Institute, a consulting service that predicts global color trends and advises companies on color in brand identity and products.

Pantone worked with Artechouse to create an immersive art installation in New York for the reveal.
Stephen Baker/Huge

Pantone partnered with digital agency Huge to produce the event, attended by media and influencers.

The company worked with Artechouse—an experiential art organization that produces digital installations—to create 360-degree projections of imagery inspired by past Colors of the Year, and animations of Pantone’s color chips in a variety of blue shades.

“This is a color we can relate to around the world, no matter where we live. We look outside the door and we see this color,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, at the event. “It’s because this color is so relatable that we’re comfortable with it and we embrace it. It lends itself to communication and feelings of inclusivity. It brings peace and tranquility to the human spirit.

Before the reveal, the digital installation projected imagery such as Pantone's signature color chips.
Stephen Baker/Huge

The event technically revealed the color before the actual announcement was made by using sensory elements. Pantone partnered with audio branding agency Audio UX to create Vivid Nostalgia, the “official sound” of Classic Blue, which played throughout the event. The space was also scented with a floral fragrance inspired by the hue, which Pantone created in partnership with privately owned fragrance and flavor company Firmenich.

Pantone choosing to reveal Color of the Year with an immersive event speaks the institute’s recent experiential efforts, which are a product of brand partnerships. Tied to last year’s Living Coral hue, Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio partnered with Pantone to create a traveling art installation that debuted at Art Basel in 2018.

This year, LG partnered with the institute to create a pop-up café that highlighted its summer color palette. The company also created a purple hue for the new Macallan Edition No. 5 whisky in September, which was promoted with a 360-degree consumer pop-up experience in New York themed around color creation and whisky making.

Pantone tapped Adobe Stock to create an image collection that showcases Classic Blue.
Pantone

Pantone’s other partners for Classic Blue include Adobe Stock, which chose a collection of imagery to inspire creators. The company also worked with Adobe to create a color line tied to Living Coral, drawing attention to how reefs are affected by climate change.

For Classic Blue, Pantone has also collaborated with home furnishings brand The Inside to develop a Color of the Year 2020 fabric, and tea company Tea Leaves to launch a tea blend inspired by the hue.

Blue has been a popular Color of the Year choice for Pantone in the past. The first Color of the Year in 2000 was Cerulean, while 2003 was Aqua Sky, 2005 was Blue Turquoise and 2008 was Blue Iris.


Ian is an experiential marketing reporter for Adweek where he covers brand activations and experiential trends. Previously, he was an editor for BizBash where he covered events such as CES, Sundance Film Festival, NYC Pride, and C2 Montréal. Originally from Maryland, Zelaya also was a reporter for Baltimore Style magazine and Washington Jewish Week. He has a degree in mass communication from Towson University and lives in Brooklyn.
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