A Brighter Future for the World’s Authority on Color

Pantone is the worldwide authority on color. For over 50 years, the company has helped designers, brands, and publishers deliver visually arresting messages. But internally, the company needed to reorient itself.

As printing volumes decrease year over year, we were asked to help the brand chart a new course for growth – embracing its powerful legacy, but pointing it toward a vibrant new future. Ultimately, our collaboration blossomed into a 3-year creative partnership—the outputs of which include brand repositioning, as well as creative concepting, art direction, and content production for four global campaigns.

It Starts With Understanding

We began our work by conducting a global research program, designed to unearth the spectrum of thinkers, makers, and creators that have been a part of Pantone’s success. Underneath the swatch books and colorful inks, there was something much more powerful that the brand had taken for granted. Pantone isn’t just a color maker, they are color intelligence business.

With expert researchers and trend forecasters, Pantone can tell you how color affects your mood or decision making. They can tell you what colors will be walking down the runway at fashion week months before it happens. In effect, they were “color whisperers,” but they were speaking so softly that no one could hear them.

Color Intelligence

To catalyze Pantone’s transition into a new chapter of growth, we developed a strategy designed to establish them as the global leader in color intelligence. Pantone would no longer just sell you inks or swatch books, they’d sell you insight and consultative services to help your business understand color and how to work with it more effectively.


Make it Brilliant

With this strategic foundation established, we then began the development of a new suite of brand assets. It began with utilizing the brand’s existing logotype and surrounding it in the iconic square swatch – a visual synonymous with the brand. This gave us an opportunity to nod at the brand’s legacy, while also setting the stage for their future evolutions.

Coupled with the new logomark, we developed a new tagline designed to celebrate the past and the future of the brand. “Make it Brilliant” references both the company’s history in color matching and production, and simultaneously pointing toward the powerful color intelligence business it was beginning to operationalize. An internal and external marketing campaign was designed to not only raise awareness for this work in the media, but also in the hearts and minds of the employees as they prepared for this exciting new era.

Leading with Color of the Year

Since 2000, Pantone has announced a “color of the year” as a way to signal their predictions for the year ahead. Historically, this one-day announcement relied on a singular key visual to communicate the color of the year, garnering attention but quickly fading in relevance as the year went on.

In order to evolve this effort and tie it more closely to the Make It Brilliant mission of the brand, we built a year-long, real-time campaign that brought the Color of the Year into context for consumers. This shift created potential to be more creative and less literal with campaign imagery, reaching designers from all fields with impactful content 365 days a year.

Color of The Year 2014: Releasing Radiant Orchid

Radiant Orchid 18-3224, was identified as 2014’s Color of the Year. Backed by color intelligence from the Pantone Color Institute, a concept was developed that enabled the color’s confidence, joy, love, and health to be brought to life. Harmonious environments were created that filled the frame with washes of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.

  • This new campaign approach triggered an exponential rise in the brand’s social following across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest
  • Comments, clicks, and coverage for the announcement garnered over 2 million impressions for the brand in this new moment of reinvention

Color of The Year 2015: Marsala Makes an Appearance

Building on the success of 2014’s campaign, 2015’s Color of the Year presented the opportunity to push conceptual and creative boundaries even further.

Marsala 18-1438 is unlike the brighter, poppier colors Pantone had chosen in years past. And with this in mind, we created a world in which Marsala was both the visual and conceptual star, highlighting the tone and energy of an imagined ‘place.’ This story came to life by showing friends at various stages of a dinner party.

  • Campaign impressions increased by more than 250% across 100 countries. Color truly is the international language

Color of The Year 2016: Balancing Serenity and Rose Quartz

In an unprecedented move for the brand, 2016’s “Color” of the Year was, in fact, two distinctly different hues. Sub Rosa set out to develop a global campaign that transcended language and cultures. A weightless, ethereal fabric became the vehicle for communicating the interplay between the colors.

  • Largest media impact in the history of the brand.
  • Within 24 hours, 298 media placements had resulted in 1.35 billion media impressions.
  • By the end of the first week, those numbers had grown into 1,120 media placements and 2.6 billion media impressions.