Hope isn’t just a feeling this season—according to the color experts at Pantone, it’s also a palette. Based on the prominent colors used in this year’s New York Fashion Week, Pantone’s most popular colors for Spring 2017 involve a playful yet thoughtful mix of vitality and relaxation. According to Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman, “designers applied color in playful, yet thoughtful and precise combinations to fully capture the promises, hope, and transformation that we yearn for each Spring.”
To help encapsulate the aspirational essence these colors represent in your next designs, we’ve compiled a guide to understanding the meaning behind each color choice—and we’ve created a few designs using resources from our library of stock images to get you started.
1. Primrose Yellow
This vibrant yellow is bold and unabashedly cheery—especially as it skews more towards orange-yellow than green. Reminiscent of warm, sunny days, this color can be especially impactful when you want your designs to draw instant attention.
If the brand you’re designing for is a playful one, then this color is just right—but use it with care. When paired with white text, it can be difficult to read and therefore quite inaccessible for those with limited eyesight. It’s best used sparingly as an accent color—but then again, rules are made to be broken.
2. Pale Dogwood
This beautifully subtle pink is soft and relaxing. It is innocent and pure, like a softly lit spring morning, which probably explains the name. This color is so unobtrusive, it could easily be used as a neutral in your designs. Let it lead from a place of support: the background.
For a brand that is calm and feminine, this color is ideal. It makes an excellent supporting color for bold and loud colors. For a minimalist feel, pair it with grayscale photos and rich black text to let your content carry the weight of your message.
As the most neutral color of the bunch, Hazelnut truly represents the earthiness of Pantone’s collection. It’s grounding, calming, and provides roots for punchier colors to contrast with. Described as “unpretentious and with an inherent warmth,” this color eases you into the transition of the seasons, with warm days spent outdoors just on the horizon.
As a neutral, this color is another excellent supporter for pairing with others. If you’re going for an approachable, earthy look in your design, Hazelnut can be more warm and friendly than the popular light gray as a neutral.
4. Island Paradise
A strikingly vibrant and appealing color, Island Paradise mimics the pristine aqua waters of islands far off. It exudes an air of paradise and inspires tropical escapes far away from the colorless cold winter.
Blue colors generally evoke a sense of calm, peace, and responsibility for brands, but this brighter and more energized aqua radiates excitement. It has a freshness that is playful and fun. For a happy and bright brand, let Island Paradise take center stage. Try a monochromatic look with varying shades of blue—like Lapis Blue and Niagara—to really dive into Bahamian waters. Or try a look that pops by pairing it with Pink Yarrow and Flame.
As the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, this shade of green is all about breathing new life into the spring season and reinvigorating our passions. It’s about experimentation, exploration, and adventure. This green is fearless and borrows some of its boldness from the hints of yellow found within.
Use this color in your designs if you want to create a feeling of freshness and vibrancy. Green in branding can create a sense of balance and harmony—yet this hue is also energizing and invigorating. Pair it with a minimal and clean design that emphasizes the use of negative or white space to really nail a refreshing look and feel.
Arguably the hottest color of the bunch, this color is also the loudest and most intense. More approachable than reds in general, orange has a friendly and energetic appeal—a common theme throughout Pantone’s collection. This shade is “gregarious and fun loving” and adds heat to the spring collection to balance out some of the more peaceful and relaxing colors.
Don’t be fearful of the bold and bright Flame color. In fact, if you’re going to give this color a shot, go all the way and flood your designs with it. With a color like this, it’s asking to make a statement. If your brand is strong and determined, this could be the color for you. Try using it in marketing pieces that have an informal voice and approach or for an intense call to action.
7. Pink Yarrow
This pink is lively, whimsical, and quite the showstopper. It isn’t shy and it doesn’t mind taking center stage—which is exactly how you can utilize it. This bold, bright, and saturated hue is captivating and will immediately draw attention to wherever it is used in a design.
Highlight an important call to action with Pink Yarrow—or emphasize an area where the message is particularly important. But keep in mind that this color is not the most traditional or conservative. If you use it in your designs or for branding, understand that you’ll be giving the impression of youth and a casual approach to business—think T-Mobile, which emphasizes targeting youthful and open-minded consumers.
Niagara was coined as speaking “to our desire for ease and relaxation.” It was awarded as the most prominent color of Spring 2017. While it’s one of the more muted colors of the collection, its strength lies in its comfort and dependability.
Used alone, the mood it elicits is one of relaxation, comfort, and dependability, which makes it an excellent partner for pairing with bright Primrose Yellow. Or if you want to keep your designs calm, it could work very well with Pale Dogwood.
Though the actual vegetable probably reached peak trendiness back in 2014, Kale as a color is making its way into fashion and design strongly this spring. Another green in the collection to emulate the beauty of nature and the desire to get outdoors, Kale is more muted and reserved than its Greenery counterpart. It makes an excellent backdrop and could almost get away with serving as a neutral.
For a complimentary collision in hue and saturation, try pairing Kale with Pink Yarrow—it will look modern and bold, but also quite fun. For a monochromatic look, work with Greenery and Kale. Or for a sweet and inviting combination, try Kale with Pale Dogwood.
10. Lapis Blue
Lapis blue is one of the more modest and traditional colors in Pantone’s collection. It radiates inner confidence and a calm, stable energy, yet it holds its own against some of the brighter colors like Primrose Yellow, Flame, or Pink Yarrow.
Paired with a heavy use of white space, Lapis Blue works well along side any of these brighter colors—especially when used in the style of Material Design for websites, web applications, or mobile apps. The heavy saturation of the color makes for an excellent contrast with white space and therefore makes a hierarchy of information easier to accomplish—a must-have for successful visual design.
Want a little more in-depth analysis to color theory before you begin your designs? Check out our Color Theory 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Complementary Colors, RGB, and More.