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What Pantone’s Color of the Year Means for Brands in 2017

This week, Pantone announced it’s new “Color of the Year” for 2017…which is…drum roll, please…

Greenery (15-0343 TCX)

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Certainly, this is a bold selection and one that will come as a surprise to most of us in the creative and design community. However, when we read the company’s reason behind the selection, it became evident that the carefully selected palette is meant to serve a bigger purpose. According to Pantone Color Institute executive director Laurie Eisenman, “While Serenity and Rose Quartz, the Pantone Color of the Year 2016, expressed the need for harmony in a chaotic world . . . Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize, and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another, and a larger purpose.”

In essence, the color represents a fairly powerful sentiment, which will hopefully, indirectly, benefit our unstable society. For marketers, however, what does “Greenery” represent? We thought it would be fun to take a look at the consumer implications of Pantone’s color choice, to see what brands should expect when employing “Greenery” in their efforts.

Perhaps in the most literal sense, this shade of green represents an ecological connection, and as Pantone points out, a message of “rebirth” and “positivity.” According to Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, “the big macro driver here was getting back to nature.” Over the past several years, many brands have turned to similar shades of green to self-identify as eco-friendly and in-touch with the health of our planet. The Logo Company highlights brands like Whole Foods, John Deere, BP, and even the television network Animal Planet. For a growing segment of the population, buying from these types of brands has become a priority. In fact, according to research from Nielsen conducted in 2015, nearly three-quarters of Millennials surveyed were willing to pay more for sustainable offerings, up from approximately half in 2014.

Of course, it’s worth noting that this is a very specific shade and that the psychology of color-coded marketing is tenuous at best, but this is for fun, right? Aside from the obvious, what other buying characteristics could potentially be associated with Pantone’s selection? Again, according to The Logo Company, shades of green often represent a sense of “peace,” “growth,” and “health” for consumers. Brands can utilize “Greenery” as a way to subconsciously communicate these properties to their audiences. Still, this is largely a qualitative exercise, as the performance of color can vary wildly by industry and even by specific brand.

At Olapic, we have worked with over 350 top brands using our Earned Content platform and proprietary machine-learning algorithm to analyze 40 unique data points in customer imagery and help quantify specific metrics tied to color. For example, for one brand, the color blue may lead to increased conversions on social ads, while for another, the color of “greenery” may lead to increased engagement on-site. As we work to better understand the psychology of color, it’s refreshing to see Pantone’s approach on inspiring growth and rebirth at a time when our society definitively needs it!

What do you think about Pantone’s choice? How does it fit (or not fit) into your plans for 2017?