Pantone goes very green with hopeful Color of the Year

The choice, settled somewhere between prediction and hope, seems a response to the current climate of political and social division.

Pantone/AP
This image released by Pantone shows a color swatch called 'greenery,' which has been named as the color of the year for 2017 by the Pantone Color Institute.

The “global color authority” has chosen: 2017’s Color of the Year is greenery.

On Thursday, the Pantone Color Institute announced that next year’s most important hue will be Pantone 15-0343, a “yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.” The choice, settled somewhere between prediction and hope, seems a response to the current climate of political and social division.

“This is the color of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature,” Leatrice Eiseman, the vice president of the institute, told The New York Times. “It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew. Every spring we enter a new cycle and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life affirming to look forward to.”

As the Times’ Vanessa Friedman wrote:

In other words, if 2016 was your annus horribilis, as 1992 was for Queen Elizabeth II, whether because of elections or market forces or because you were suckered by fake news on Facebook, this suggests the possibility of something different in 2017. It contains within it the promise that we can all start afresh, with a healthier attitude unfurling like a pea shoot and our feet firmly planted on the earth, as opposed to that isolated, alienating place known as cyberspace.

“Greenery” has been seen throughout history in times of great cultural change, from the social liberation of the 1920s to the psychedelic anti-war youth of the 1960s.

Pantone began choosing Colors of the Year in 2000, in an attempt to capture the zeitgeist in a single shade. Interestingly, Pantone doesn’t retroactively assign colors to match the mood of the previous year. Instead, the company looks forward, picking each year’s color ahead of time.

The colors aren’t used commercially – at least not by Pantone itself – but they have captured the public’s imagination as a means of cultural forecasting.

Last year, Pantone sought to convey a growing sense of fluidity in gender by choosing two colors: serenity (baby blue) and rose quartz (light pink). In 2015, it chose the reddish-brown marsala for comfort and security.

But there’s more to color than just symbolism. Some researchers believe certain shades can have profound effects on human psychology. Deep blues, according to some studies, may lead people to act more cautiously. In 2008, Japan tested that theory by installing blue street lights in an attempt to curb violence and suicides, The Seattle Times reported.

Color also plays a significant role in politics. But this has less to do with the red-blue party metaphor, and more with political intentions.

Red is often associated with power and passion. Hillary Clinton, perhaps sensing a need to fire up a Democratic base that was unenthusiastic about her candidacy, wore a striking red power suit to one 2016 presidential debate. Her running mate, Tim Kaine, was often seen sporting a red tie.

Blue, on the other hand, may suggest competence. Donald Trump, whose lack of political experience was regularly questioned, often wore blue ties throughout the campaign.

Retail stores play the color game too, painting their walls with cool colors to encourage purchasing. Of course, Tiffany & Co. built an entire brand on one shade of robin’s egg blue.

In May, Google changed its search results from blue to black links. Most users were unhappy with the brief change, but Google understands the potential value of color: In 2014, the search giant reportedly earned an additional $200 million just by changing the shade of blue it used in ads.

We saw which shades of blue people liked the most, demonstrated by how much they clicked on them,’ Dan Cobley, Google UK’s managing director told The Guardian. “As a result we learned that a slightly purpler shade of blue was more conducive to clicking than a slightly greener shade of blue, and gee whizz, we made a decision.”

“But the implications of that for us, given the scale of our business, was that we made an extra $200m a year in ad revenue.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.