Is There A Definitive Colour of the Year?

February 4, 2019


Towards the end of every calendar year there is a flurry of announcements relating to colour. Paint companies in the UK, USA and Australia all have their say on the Colour of the Year. The big question for Home and Lifestyle product development teams relates to how much attention you should pay to their predictions and which one is most relevant to their brand.

Each company has their own method of determining their colour of the year. Some use a committee of experts and others go so far as travelling the globe to discover worldwide colour trends.

The colour of the year is an excellent example of the subjectivity of trend. In 2019 they are all polarizing palettes with polarizing energy. It can be tricky to know which one to use as an influence for your brand’s product development. As buyers and product developers in the home and lifestyle industry, you know it is challenging to stand out in the sea of sameness in a crowded market competing for consumer spend.

The Colour of the Year for 2019 is…..


Pantone issues the most well-known announcement and consider themselves the colour authority. Their domain covers print, digital, fashion and even motor vehicles. This year they have put their might behind Living Coral. Pantone argues that this colour bridges our tech-obsessed world with the natural one. They say it reflects endangered natural beauty. It makes a statement about getting off tech and back to nature.

Living Coral commonality with its predecessors is that it a fast fashion colour. We can expect to see prints, graphics, fashion and online images to take this colour and run with it. Will we see Living Coral Cars or Dining Tables.

For many Home and Lifestyle product development companies, by the time the Pantone colour of the Year is released in late 2018 it is too late to be included into any range as anything other than an accent colour.

The Paint Gurus

One thing we have found interesting in 2019 is that many of the paint companies have focused on grounded and calming palettes.

Sherwin-Williams Paints from USA says 2019 is all about Cavern Clay. Sherwin-Williams calls this “a warm terracotta colour with ancient and elemental roots. It has a nod to mid-century style and has the soul of the American Southwest. It combines these elements to create a desert modern aesthetic”

Dulux Paints UK says the 2019 colour of the year is Spiced Honey. Their rhetoric describes it as “reflecting the positive mood of the moment. It is a warm amber tone, inspired by the beauty and versatility of honey”

Dunn-Edwards Paints USA is going with Spice of Life. Their spiel describes it as “an earthy colour reminiscent of naturalist motifs; bohemian moods and the great American West. It anticipates the exploration of the red planet, Mars.”

Benjamin Moore Paints in the USA has gone with a soft grey called Metropolitan. They call this a “calm, composed and sophisticated colour. It is glamourous and exudes beauty and elegance.”

Taubmans Paints in Australia says their colour of the year is Night Watch. They state this is “a natural shade that is chic, effortlessly timeless”

Behr Paints in the USA declares their colour of the year as Blueprint. Reminiscent of blueprints that builders use to bring Architectural designs to life. It is an honest and approachable colour.

Digital Colour

Over time digital imagery companies such as Shutterstock have joined the fray. Shutterstock’s colour of the year is data driven, based on the image colours its users are downloading. Shutterstock is prescribing 2019 as high energy colour. Their colours of the year for 2019 are UFO Green, Plastic Pink and Proton Purple.

If you drill down Shutterstock’s data by region you get a different story. This demonstrates how important geographical factors are for colour selection. For example Australia prefers Indigo to Azure. You can see the local favourites by country below.

Colour Science and Consumer Behaviour

So taking the 10 or so “Colours of the Year” what exactly do you do with this information? What filter can you apply to determine which palette is right for your brand? How do you strategically take a colour that lets you differentiate your brand from the competition?

Maybe you put them all in a hat and pick one. Or spin a colour wheel and see where you land. Perhaps you select the one most of your team prefer?

There is a scientific approach you can apply to colour selection. It helps you pin point the colours that are the most relevant for your brand and your customer base.

Over time, MC&Co have defined 5 emotional drivers that apply to home and lifestyle brands. They are based on historical data and consumer behaviour. Colour features as a factor in each of these emotional drivers.

The emotional drivers are:

  • Opulence
  • Grounded
  • Playful
  • Nostalgia
  • Escape

Applying colour predictions to these emotional drivers, Living Coral features in both Playful, Grounded and Opulence. These will not be relevant to every brand. Home and Lifestyle product development teams can adapt by using it as an accent colour in their Summer 2019 overlay season.

The more earthy tones from the Paint gurus feature in the grounded emotional driver. They hint at relaxation, unplugging, connecting to the earth and nature.

At MC&Co, we have 30+ years of global product development and trend intelligence expertise. We take time each year carefully analysing colour predictions. We know it is not as simple as picking a winner and hoping for the best.

The colours you align your product range to need to be unique to you. They need to inspire and appeal to your ideal customer demographics, aesthetic and desires. A colour has to represent YOUR unique brand, YOUR market and YOUR geography.

So, is there one authority on colour? Is there a definitive colour you can bet your brand on? The answer is no.​

Our advice for the discerning is not to get too caught up in the Colour of the Year. Instead consider where the profit is for your brand. Once you know the emotional drivers that are relevant to your target market, you can use our scientific approach. It will give you an understanding of which colour combination is right for your distinctive product range. Then you can use simple accents of Pantone’s Living Coral in the right season for you.

If you need help determining which colour palette is right for your brand, then MC&Co can help. Book a consultation with our global trend intelligence experts today and give your brand the edge in commercial success. You will wish you asked us sooner!