Colour names are a popular way for Pantone to distinguish and market their wide range of hues. While most Pantone colours are identified simply by numbers, certain shades that have achieved particular popularity or significance are additionally assigned descriptive and evocative names. Let’s explore some of the key reasons why Pantone elects to give some of their famous colours distinct monikers.
The Origins of Pantone’s Colour Names
Pantone Inc. is a U.S. corporation known worldwide for its proprietary colour matching system. Since 1963, Pantone has developed over 10,000 distinct colours identified by unique numbered codes. These Pantone Matching System (PMS) codes allow designers and producers to accurately match colours across various materials and mediums.
While most Pantone colours are known purely by their alphanumeric codes, Pantone has chosen to give specific names to many of their most iconic shades. This practice began in the 2000s, when Pantone embarked on branding initiatives to trademark some of their most popular colours. By assigning evocative names to these beloved hues, Pantone was able to further build brand recognition and connect customers to their products in a more emotive way.
Memorable Names Help with Branding and Marketing
Colour names allow customers to more easily remember and refer to iconic Pantone colours. For instance, “PMS 18-2120 True Red” is not nearly as memorable or meaningful as “PANTONE Rose Quartz.” Names like Rose Quartz, Serenity Blue, and Greenery instantly evoke the colour’s personality and feel. This helps build brand attachment, as customers come to know these Pantones by the distinctive names instead of just numbers.
Additionally, the descriptive names help tell a marketing story. Names like Tranquil Blue and Mimosa speak to the mood and emotions the colours are meant to represent and project. The evocative stories behind the names get customers engaged with the colours on a deeper level. This powerful branding equips Pantone to license these trademarked shades and their names across fashion, home goods, graphics, and more. For example, PANTONE Colour of the Year campaigns leverage this branding to promote colours.
Naming Significant Colours
Pantone will often name a colour when it has major pop culture significance or prominence in the zeitgeist. For instance, Blue Iris was the colour chosen for AMEX cards in 2000, while True Red was named to match Coca-Cola’s signature red. Pantone also names their Colour of the Year winners like 2013’s Emerald and 2017’s Greenery. By naming these standout shades, Pantone draws attention and visibility to their role in iconic products, events, or trends.
|Iconic Named Pantone Colours||Product, Brand, or Trend They’re Associated With|
|PANTONE PMS 287 Blue||Tiffany & Co.’s robin egg blue|
|PANTONE 3252 U||Barbie pink|
|PANTONE 7465 C||Millennial pink|
|PANTONE 1375 C||Purple rain – Prince|
Pantone gains great exposure when its colours become intrinsically tied to major brands, people, and cultural moments. The distinct names given to these shades only heighten the association.
Naming for Commercial Products
Pantone will frequently name colours that are commissioned for use in high-profile product launches and branding campaigns. Examples include Green Sheen that was developed for Heineken beer, and Blue Iris that AMEX specified for their credit cards. By naming client-commissioned colours, Pantone establishes their authority and prominence as a commercial colour partner. The unique names essentially act as advertisements affirming Pantone’s role in major company initiatives and product development processes. This drives business growth as companies recognize the branding power of having a custom Pantone colour created in their name.
Acquiring Legal Trademark Protection
In many cases, Pantone names specific colours in order to legally trademark them and protect their unique PMS numbers. For example, PANTONE 347 C was named and trademarked as Purple Heart to prevent other companies from using the exact shade without permission and compensation. Owning trademarks on wildly popular colours allows Pantone to profit from licensing agreements any time those shades are used in products or designs.
The distinctive names strengthen Pantone’s capacity to enforce their trademarks and defend against potential infringement by competitors looking to produce identical colour specifications. Pantone stands to lose substantial licensing profits if other companies copy the precise mixes that make up patented Pantone colours. Assigning names bolsters Pantone’s ability to legally protect their intellectual property.
Creating an Emotional Connection with Customers
Research has demonstrated how colour names can elicit stronger emotional and physiological responses compared to colour numbers alone. By giving colours names like Trustful Blue or Friendship Pink, Pantone taps into the psychology of colour and builds meaningfully emotional associations between their products and customers.
This emotional branding technique helps get customers invested in and attached to specific Pantone colours based on the positive feelings and meanings implied by the names. The result is a stronger relationship between customers and the Pantone brand itself. So naming colours helps convert the numerical Pantone system into a more approachable and relatable experience for customers.
The Takeaway on Pantone Colour Names
While Pantone identifies the vast majority of their shade library simply by numbers, certain colours receive special descriptive names based on their prominence, significance, or marketing potential. Naming these elite hues helps build the Pantone brand, drive sales and licensing deals, and emotionally engage customers on a deeper level. So Pantone’s meticulously selective colour naming strategy plays a major role in maintaining their status as a global authority on commercial colour.