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“Carefree confidence.” “Daring curiosity.” “Inquisitive and intriguing.” Those are a few of the phrases Pantone uses in describing its 2022 Color of the Year, Very Peri (PANTONE 17-3938). The hue—a periwinkle blue with red undertones—is the first one that Pantone has created specifically for the Color of the Year since it launched the program in 2000. Doing so “reflects the global innovation and transformation taking place,” notes Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. “As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to express and affect ideas and emotions and engage and connect, the complexity of this new red violet infused blue hue highlights the expansive possibilities that lay before us.”

Capturing the Zeitgeist

To determine its Color of the Year, Pantone considers everything from technological innovations and entertainment trends to social media and art. Very Peri is meant in part to reflect the fusion of the virtual and physical worlds, and some have noted that the color recalls the blue glow of digital screens in their real-world surroundings. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, has said that the prevalence of video games and the periwinkle hues in those games influenced the creation of this year’s color.

Underscoring the importance of digital design in the “real” world, Pantone teamed with Microsoft to create a PowerPoint template, Windows wallpapers, Teams backgrounds, and Edge browser themes featuring Very Peri. Pantone also partnered with blockchain network Tezos to release a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by artist and director Polygon1993. Among the more tangible applications of the color are a limited-edition sneaker from sustainable-footwear brand Cariuma; hand-painted, limited-edition bikes by Priority Bicycles; and limited-edition skateboard decks from Globe.

Very Peri is meant in part to reflect the fusion of the virtual and physical worlds,
and some have noted that the color recalls the blue glow of digital screens in their real-world surroundings.

Because Very Peri pairs the authority of blue with the energy of red, Pantone contends that it is well suited for packaging design. Also notable is the color’s similarity to lavender, which has long been associated with serenity. Very Peri’s combination of credibility and excitement, optimism and calm, make the color useful for advertising, product design, and other commercial applications. In fact, Hallmark already uses a darker, more purple incarnation of periwinkle for its branding, while Figma, a vector graphics editor and prototyping tool used by designers, uses a paler, more lavender version.

To facilitate commercial use of the color, Pantone has created four palettes that incorporate Very Peri to establish a variety of moods, playing up the hue’s versatility. The Balancing Act palette, for instance, surrounds the color with more muted tones so that the hue commands attention within a serene ambience certain to appeal to mainstream consumers. Within this palette, Very Peri could easily be used for CPG marketing.

In contrast, the pinks and oranges of Pantone’s Amusements palette highlight the color’s whimsical side; this palette would be ideal for communicating a sense of fantasy and carefree youth. In the Wellspring palette, Very Peri adds joie de vivre to nature-inspired greens and browns, which could make messages focused on health, wellness, and eco-friendliness more attractive to some audiences. And in the Star of the Show palette, grays, whites, and other neutral shades accentuate Very Peri’s sophistication, showing how the color can help luxury advertising stand out from the crowd.

By infusing serene blue with dashes of dynamic red and violet, Very Peri recalls the 2008 Color of the Year, Blue Iris. “As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast,” Eiseman said at the time. Very Peri, however, is less contemplative and more active, with Eiseman describing it as having “a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression.”

More recently, Pantone named Ultra Violet its 2018 Color of the Year. At that time, it emphasized the more mystical, otherworldly aspects of the shade. Eiseman described it as “a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”

Coloring the Year Ahead

Like Pantone, the London-based consumer- and design-trend forecaster WGSN named a hue with purplish undertones as its color of the year: Orchid Flower. As Pantone did with Very Peri, WGSN notes that Orchid Flower “will stand out in both real-life and digital settings. It is also versatile enough to work across seasons and continents. In a challenging time, this saturated magenta tone will be a great way to create a sense of positivity and escapism.”

Many other companies, however, favor green shades for their 2022 colors of the year. These include Benjamin Moore’s muted October Mist, PPG’s Olive Sprig, Glidden’s Guacamole, and Sherwin-Williams’s Evergreen Fog. These tap into green’s association with the outdoors and the organic—almost a reaction to the increasing intrusion of the digital and virtual that Very Peri and, to a lesser degree, Orchid Flower speak to.

Pantone’s most recent green Color of the Year was five years ago. It described its 2017 pick, the sunny yellow-green Greenery, as “nature’s neutral”; Eiseman said it “symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another, and a larger purpose.” We’ll keep an eye out to see if five years from now companies such as Benjamin Moore will choose periwinkle hues as their colors of the year while Pantone stays ahead of the curve with something altogether different
once again.

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