Pantone’s 2020 Color Forecast: New Design Ideas for Marketers

By Philip BerardoJan 09, 2020


desktop computer screen on desk displays graphic design template for websites

image credit: Georgejmclittle/

Each year, Pantone reveals a “color of the year” to represent a specific theme and convey a message in the new year. Companies and brands are assessed for their use of different colors and creative designs. If you’re in the marketing or graphic design industry, this is a great opportunity to plan your use of color for new projects! Here’s what Pantone’s 2020 color forecast says about this year in marketing and design.

Pantone forecasts “Classic Blue” as the color of choice for 2020

Whether you look at “classic blue” (19-4052) and think of jeans or a nighttime sky, this darker shade of blue conveys a sense of comfort in the new year. It’s also a color that, according to Pantone, is a symbol of human spirit and resilience. This isn’t too far from the emotions from last year’s living coral, which embraced a warm and comforting feel.

However, this is the first year in a while that Pantone has selected a shade of blue as their choice for the year—the closest comparison is 2010’s Turquoise. For reference, here is a rundown of the past five years of color forecasting from Pantone.

  • 2015: Marsala (not quite a chicken marsala look, but it does have a light brown tint!)
  • 2016: Serenity (a pleasant periwinkle color)
  • 2017: Greenery (a simple, plain green)
  • 2018: Ultra Violet (a darker shade of purple)
  • 2019: Living Coral (a combination of pink, red, and orange)

Classic Blue encourages a fresh start for marketers and designers

Laurie Pressman, the VP at Pantone Color Institute, has shared her thoughts on the new color choice, calling classic blue a symbol of fresh starts. What better way to kick off 2020 than with some fresh ideas for your company’s design and marketing strategy?

Taking inspiration from this year’s classic blue, now is the time to reshape your company’s approach to design. Strive to bring your designs—whether it’s from graphic design, portfolio pieces, webpages, or even branding—a more up-to-date look that feels relevant and current in 2020.

Canva, a popular online graphic design platform, shared a few design trends that will shape the new year. Combined with Pantone’s philosophy behind classic blue, here are some ideas for your marketing company in 2020:

  • Custom typography, including fonts that are unique to your brand. These look great in promotional marketing materials and really stand out on your company website!

  • More animation in your graphic design. This is especially useful in marketing materials such as infographics and slideshares.

  • Contrasting colors that allow each color to pop. Alternatively, some brands that normally use black and white imagery may try highlighting one object in an image with a color. For example, if you were using an image of a person wearing jeans, you would use classic blue for the jeans while keeping the rest of the image in a monochrome palette.

  • Illustrated art can help your marketing materials and branding stand out. Artistic talent is always appreciated, and, since each artist often has his or her own unique style, this gives more character to your marketing content.

Emotion is critical in marketing and branding—color choice matters

The impact of Pantone’s color of the year choice isn’t just about the color itself but rather the meaning behind it—its emotion. Color’s influence on emotion has been a key aspect of branding for years, from the excitement of red to the confidence of green. Emotion plays a role in appealing to your audience’s needs, pain points, and willingness to put their trust in your business.

Your company’s website is the perfect place to showcase specific color palettes that are reflective of your brand. For example, on thinkdm2’s website, we incorporate a blend of orange and red through our gradients, webpage links, and icon graphics. This style is consistent across each webpage.

If you analyze your company website, take note of any areas that feel out of place or inconsistent, such as:

  • The colors on your CTAs and links should be the same shade of color. A common issue some brands run into is neglecting brand guidelines and opting for variations of a specific color. The truth is, maroon is not the same as crimson, and navy isn't the same as royal blue. In other words, you shouldn’t be designing your CTAs and links with a “it’s close enough” mentality!

  • When using gradients, be sure that there isn’t too much emphasis on one shade compared to another. For example, a gradient that blends green and blue should have a natural, even distribution between the colors and not favor one over the other. 

Graphic design in the marketing industry is looking strong for 2020. With Pantone’s color forecast, your company can be inspired to make some updates to its design strategy. For more marketing and design tips, check out thinkdm2’s blog! We’re a New Jersey digital marketing and branding agency that specializes in the professional services and SaaS industries for technology companies.

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