What is the common point between a T-shirt, a wall, a cup of coffee, a bike and even a mood? They can all be distinguished by their color. And this is why Pantone decided to turn color into a global brand, seen as a universal standard. Founded in the USA in the 60’s, the company first aimed to provide a specific niche of professionals with the appropriate materials related to color. Today, the brand’s promise would better be to provide any individual with an open window to creativity. A promise confirmed by the brand’s line, “The color of ideas”. And the company itself, through the launch of thousand of derivative products and services, shows how ideas can emerge from anywhere and develop themselves in successful marketing concepts.
From fashion co-branding with retail giants like Uniqlo or Gap to a line of interior design products (chairs, mugs, bedding,…) or hospitality with its own hotel in Brussels, customers have now unlimited possibilities to Pantonise their lifestyle.
The brand, whose concept is infinitely adaptable, evolves in an era where everything can be branded and every brand can diversify its activity without questioning its legitimacy (fashion magazine Vogue opening cafes). A color is universal and putting a trademark or a logo on it can, at first, be strange to conceive. But the latest “craziness” was to use a branded color to sell food and drinks, attracting always more trend seekers, in the pop-up Pantone cafe in Monaco.
Customers could enjoy a specifically colored coffee, sandwich, patisserie, and the matter was not the quality or the origin of the ingredients (it was not in partnership with a specific caterer, or at least there was not any communication about it) but the specific color code associated to it. The company managed to totally conceptualize the vital fact of eating, by deviating food retailers from their essential aim.
Pantone is hence a gold mine idea that can adapt to anything that has a color, and be sold as a product. It is the company that found a way to express a creative idea, a perception, thanks to a specific code that is understood by everyone on the planet. A kind of Esperanto of design. Not only did the colorist build a successful brand story with its own products, but it became one of the most important tools for any other brand to build its identity and be recognizable worldwide through color (if capable to reproduce to up to 90% Yves Klein’s International Blue, it also makes McDonald’s logo’s red and yellow undoubtedly recognizable worldwide). And this unique source of creativity through color has turned into a global design force.
As a strong brand, Pantone also decided to lead the speech and establish further its legitimacy by self-proclaiming itself trend setter. Indeed, each year in December the Pantone’s Color Of The Year is out, based on the world’s temperature and social and cultural trends. Every winter we attend a massive color buzz on social media, and whole industries (decoration, fashion, design, packaging…) start developing new ideas and products following this creative order (2015’s Marsala, seen as a unifying element, definitely added “warmth, richness, sophistication and natural earthiness” to our home and wardrobe).
As a thriving, leading brand, Pantone understood the major change in consumers’s habits and wishes, and stepped into one-to-one, personalized strategy. Indeed, it communicates on every form of social media (facebook, instagram, twitter,…) incepting trends in each individual’s mind and making itself available to help any design or personal project. More than selling any kind of products, it has developed a real brand culture and has stepped into people’s everyday life by telling colorful stories, by influencing decision-making processes.
Many brands adopt diversification as a development strategy, but not many – if none, manage to become as global, universal, and always able to reinvent itself in new industries. Even further, not many brands manage to appropriate themselves an entire sensory field! So, even if Pantone managed to brand the color of a sandwich or an orange juice, when will it associate a color to a smell, a taste, a dream? After all, the concept is infinitely adaptable, isn’t it?