Color of the Year 2020

The Color of the Year 2020 is released by several companies, followed by many people expressing their approval or disapproval of the color choice.

Rarely do I find any insights other than what is put forward by the company. I want to share a few ideas and thoughts about each color to give you more to think about when you look at each trend color for 2020. In my past corporate life, I was part of the trends forecasting team.

Today, I work with my customers across different industries to identify what trends are essential for their business. Because of this, when I look at each color, I may make connections that are different than what comes to mind for you.

Before we look at this year's colors, I want to point out a couple of things that people outside the industry may not understand.

The Color of the Year 2020 Stays Around for More than One Year

Many people think that a color trend lasts about a year, and then by the following year, that color is no longer on-trend. That might be what many retailers and manufacturers would like people to think because it can boost sales, but it isn't true.

Yes, talking about color trends and naming a color of the year has become a useful marketing tool. Still, trends evolve over several years rather than changing entirely from year to year. Anything that comes into favor and disappears within a year is a fad. Trends generally last for four to seven years.

The takeaway? Just because we are talking about 2020 colors, it does not mean that the colors named last year have fallen out of trend. The Color of the Year 2019, chosen by Behr, is a good example.

As things in the world change, so do our emotions, and thus the colors we want to surround ourselves with are rarely a significant change. It is a subtle shift from year-to-year. If you look back four or more years, you can see a more drastic difference between what is popular now versus what once was on-trend.

Color of the Year 2020 Palette

No One Color of the Year Reigns Supreme

Each color of the year has merit. Each company has put time and resources into making their selection. They have done the research, debated the findings, and reached a consensus about what colors people will want around them. You may disagree with a color choice, but just because it doesn't hit home with you doesn't mean that it is not an essential color for the upcoming year.

Some may say that Pantone's pick is the color of the year. Last year, I talked about why a paint companies' color of the year may be the one consumers gravitate to more than Pantone's color. I feel just as strongly about that point this year, and you can find my reasons here. Be sure to read to the end of the article, where you will find the two questions to ask about any color trend. These can help you better understand the colors we are talking about here and any trend colors.

If you are still wondering which is the real color of the year, the answer is all of them. If you're looking for a single solution, then go with the color of the year that resonates most with you because there is not a single answer to your question.

Blue Takes the Top Spot

Most years, consumers see each company offering up a unique color as their top color. When two companies name the same color as Sherwin-Williams, and Benjamin Moore did with white as the Color of the Year 2016, there may even be speculation about copying each other.

Statements like that amuse me. Rather than raising eyebrows, I think it shows that the process has credibility. After researching and talking it out, color forecasters from different organizations have agreed that the feelings and desire for a particular color are so strong that it makes sense to put it forward. The same is true this year about the color blue.

What is the Color for 2020?

PPG, Sherwin-Williams, and Pantone all landed on a shade of dark blue for their 2020 Color of the Year. Behr and AkzoNobel named green as the color for the upcoming year. Benjamin Moore elevated light pink to the top spot.

Now on to each Color of the Year 2020 starting, with the blues!

PPG 2020 Color of the Year Chinese Porcelain PPG1160-6

PPG 2020 Color of the Year Chinese Porcelain PPG1160-6

Courtesy of PPG

Blend of cobalt; moody ink blue offers escapism in today's data-driven society.

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In a world where sleep is viewed as a luxury and the anxiety of a fast-paced life is all too real, it is only fitting that PPG paint brand's 2020 Color of the Year, Chinese Porcelain (PPG1160-6), offers escapism in today's technologically driven society. Hand-selected by PPG's global color experts, the shade is a blend of cobalt and moody ink blue that imparts calmness and restful sleep while also offering the spirit of hopefulness – a precious commodity in a restless world.

PPG on  their 2020 Color of the Year

Dee Schlotter, senior color manager, PPG paint brand summed up what I also see for 2020 perfectly, "Consumers are tiring of stark grays and are looking to infuse colors that delight the senses. Blue is the easiest possible entry point from the world of neutrals to the world of color."

I agree that dark blue is the color people desire right now for all of the reasons above plus dark blue has no gender, no agenda, and no controversy. It is a sure thing in a world of uncertainty.

On a side note, color is my career, but it doesn't mean I don't get drawn in by trend colors the way everyone else does. I like this gorgeous blue so much that I repainted the inside of my front door, Chinese Porcelain.

See all of PPG's trend colors for 2020 or browse through their trends flip book

Sherwin-Williams Navy SW 6244

Sherwin-Williams Navy SW 6244

Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

Beyond the blue: On the horizon between ocean and evening sky rests a color of infinite calmness.

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Our 2020 Color of the Year, Naval SW 6244 is a rich navy that creates a calm and grounding environment infused with quiet confidence. And while you may think Navy’s been done before – it’s never been done like this…

Sherwin-Williams on their 2020 Color of the Year

Over the past couple of years, I've noticed more people moving away from using only neutrals, adding color to give their home personality. And I'm not alone in seeing this trend. Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing at Sherwin-Williams, predicts, "In the next 10 years, we'll continue to move away from omnipresent neutrals, and design will feel more personal again."

This change is driven, in part, by a trend direction I call Full Circle - Our innate need for connections drives concern and compassion for others and the earth. Rather than standing apart, we strive to live in step with our world, embracing the yin yang of opposing but complementary forces on earth. Our evolving view of the world comes to life in colors that feel stable and balanced yet vibrant and fully alive.

This classic color has even taken on new life in fashion as a color that can stand shoulder to shoulder with black at the most formal of occasions.

A color that has long been an interior decorating favorite don't be surprised if you see more dark blue exteriors. Naval and other deep blues are more approachable colors for those who are drawn to the trend of black exteriors but not ready to venture that far into the dark side.

See all of Sherwin-Williams' trend colors for 2020

Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Classic Blue 19-4052

Pantone 2020 Color of the Year Classic Blue

Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

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Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep resonance, Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.

Pantone on their 2020 Color of the Year

When the color was released, Pantone also added that "As technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colors that are honest and offer the promise of protection." I have to agree.

Anytime our world feels out of control or lacking in good news; people are drawn to colors that make them feel better and more hopeful, After the financial crash, we saw a desire for optimistic, bright colors. Now we are more cautious and feel a need for color but need something more stable and trusted. Blue — the color most often named as a favorite of both men and women — fills the bill perfectly.

Classic Blue is a color that is as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans. Who wouldn't want to blanket themselves in this accepting color when what most of us need more than anything is a restful night's sleep and sweet dreams for tomorrow?

See more predictions from Pantone for 2020

Behr 2020 Color of the Year Back to Nature S340-4

Behr 2020 Color of the Year Back to Nature S340-4

Courtesy of Behr

Back to Nature perfectly captures the essence of subtle and effortless green that can be found in a wilderness landscape or an indoor garden.

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The freshly announced 2020 Color of the Year is an organic shade of green meant to purify and promote balance at home. As we enter the next decade, we strive for vibrancy in life and shape it how we choose. As nature’s favorite color, Back to Nature is a restorative and revitalizing green hue that engages the senses and pairs well with other colors both inside and outside your home.

Behr on their 2020 Color of the Year

Green continues to be a color that draws people to it because of its ability to relieve stress, quiet the mind, and promote tranquility. Like blue, this nature-based green is comforting, but the attraction goes deeper.

For many, a new nomadic lifestyle is replacing the goal of settling down. While blue speaks loudly to stability, green connects with this adventurous spirit.

With mobility and freedom in mind, the focus turns to what is essential and meaningful in life. Anything more will weigh us down physically, mentally, and emotionally. We want to travel lightly, be positive, and embrace every experience.

Designs that support a lighter lifestyle are clean, sophisticated, functional, adaptable, and green.

Checkout Behr's 2020 Color Trends Palette

AkzoNobel 2020 Color of the Year Tranquil Dawn

Dulux 2020 Color of the Year Tranquil Dawn

Courtesy of  Dulux

A delicate, fluid shade somewhere between green, blue and grey.

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Tranquil Dawn perfectly captures the 2020 mood of what makes us human. It’s reminiscent of the colors of the morning sky and encapsulates our desire to treasure our most human qualities, which we’ll need in the new decade we are entering.

AkzoNobel on their 2020 Color of the Year

As a company based in Europe, AkzoNobel has a different perspective on what is essential now, and their choice of Tranquil Dawn reflects that thinking.

There is more to this color than its connection to nature. If that is the only aspect you think about when seeing this soft, cool green, you may be missing out on an essential element of design influencing a range of light, delicate hues.

Design goes beyond "form follows function" as materials and technology integrate to produce designs focused on well-being. Using what scientists have learned about how visual aesthetics can impact our brains and physiology, designers employ color, lighting, sounds, scents, and textures to stimulate our senses.

The feel of a surface is as important as its look and must appeal to all of our senses. Softness in color and tactile materials drive designs that nurture the spirit. 

See AkzoNobel's 2020 Colors

Benjamin Moore 2020 Color of the Year 

Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2020

Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

A refreshing wash of pink, First Light 2102-70 uplifts.

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A fresh palette. A revitalized spirit. A soft, rosy hue blooming with potential. Benjamin Moore's Color of the Year 2020, First Light 2102-70, is the backdrop for a bright new decade.

Benjamin Moore on their 2020 Color of the Year

A gentle pink hue, First Light feels like it is born of the same trend direction as Tranquil Dawn. Even the names are quite similar. Although the colors are from different color families, both are on the cooler side and evoke a similar mood.

Whether at home, work or out in the world, we seek spaces where we can be ourselves to do and dream. To confidently breathe in life and calmly exhale our truth. We desire ease in all that is essential to life. First Light has a softness of color that nurtures the spirit, gently soothes the mind, and "is the backdrop for a bright new decade."

Benjamin Moore has narrowed down to 10 trend colors for the 2020 Color Trends Palette

What Do You Think About the Color of the Year 2020?

Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts, ideas, and insights. I'd enjoy knowing what comes to mind and how you feel about these colors. Also, let me know if you'd like me to do this again next year.

Read Time: 9 min
author avatar
Kate Smith
Kate Smith is an optimistic, expressive, artist, designer, writer and color fanatic. With her warm and witty style, Kate teaches you to clearly see, understand and be inspired by color. Then she guides you step-by-step to develop your own unique color sense-ability and achieve results you never dreamed possible.
  • Sandi says:

    Thank you Kate, I love the colors. They all have a place in a home. I have had a Navy blue living room for 20 years! Never get tired of it and so versatile to shake it up with accent colors. Great article.

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome, Sandi. I”m happy you enjoyed the article. Navy is a great base for so many accent colors and I understand why you never tire of it either. I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for stopping by, Kate

  • Kim Brown says:

    Do not like any of the colors…maybe the greens.

    • Kate Smith says:

      That could actually be good news for you, Kim. Perhaps you aren’t feeling the uncertainty or overwhelm that makes these colors a draw for others. Maybe you can bottle up some of your outlook to share. 🙂

  • j. hall says:

    Hi Kate, I enjoyed your discussion and thoughts on how to successfully use colors of the year, whether it’s 2020 or 2000. I’ve always tread lightly when mixing colors…my skills in that area are lacking, so your post will be helpful from here on out. I have to agree, Pantone’s 2020 color of the year feels like a yawn after 2019’s Living Coral, wonder if coral is out of the picture entirely?

    • Kate Smith says:

      Hi, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post about the Color of the Year 2020 and find it helpful. Living Coral is still out in the market. It is a happy color that would be beautiful with the blues and many other colors. There is a trend direction that I didn’t talk about because it is not a primary driver of any of the colors above. This trend includes brighter tones, including Living Coral or similar hues.

      FREE SPIRITED – With a need to rise above the fray of everyday overwhelm, playful colors beckon us to step over to the lighter side of life. We need to have fun, a few laughs among friends, and enough carefree moments to reinvigorate our zest for life.

      Don’t be afraid to dip into the brighter side of the palette to create energetic color schemes and clever color combinations if those colors call out to you or your customers.

      Thanks for that great question. — Kate

  • Jennifer Crawford says:

    Thanks for a great article! I like the colors, a good mix, and they work well with other colors. As a designer, I like to mix things up to see what works. A nice change from gray and white. Although, some of these colors could enhance a gray and white scheme, too.

    • Kate Smith says:

      My pleasure, Jennifer. You make two good points that both apply to trend colors. Mix them up! Not only with each other but with other colors to create unique schemes. By not using a trend color in the same way everyone else does, you make your look more timeless. And use the trend colors to give new life to existing colors. Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

      • Jennifer Crawford says:

        Thank you Kate! I was just sharing points from your article with a client on the phone as I was asked about gray vs color. I love having this available to glean information and help direct people. Design is so fun!

        • Kate Smith says:

          Yes, it is fun, Jennifer. I’m glad my post can be a little cheat sheet for you do use. Thanks for letting me know you found the information useful.

  • Felicitas says:

    Hi Kate, loved your ideas about Color of the Year. I have to admit that was waiting for a more joyful color from Pantone. My take was on a yellow green. I agree that we are living a confused world but my inner self seeks more joy and hope in the form of yellow green. When I look to a bigger picture I see this color around anyway. Big hug, Felicitas

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks, Felicitas. I could go for a joyful yellow-green, too. The colors shown, especially for the U.S., will resonate with a majority of people. Then there are outliers like you and me who spend so much time working with color that we are often on the very front end of the next trend by the time a color hits today’s marketplace. I do like deep blues, especially when they lean a bit warm but that is nothing new for me. I’ve long been a gal in search of peace, harmony and the perfect blue-green. 🙂 Hugs back to you, Kate

  • Noelle Lake says:

    Great article and insights as always Kate – thanks for sharing them. It’s interesting to see all six together (a nice palette, actually!). I like how beautifully the black elements in the rooms pictured show up against the two pale tones. I favor dark colors but my mind is opening to the power of these barely there pastels. You’ve given me a lot to chew on.

    Happy Holiday and New Year and New Decade to you!!

    • Kate Smith says:

      Hi Noelle, thanks for your thoughtful compliments and for adding your comment. I thought the blue and green with a touch of pink were nice, too. The lighter tones do seem a bit delicate in the current climate but there is something about the ease and elegance of these hues that make them worth considering or as you put it so well, being open to the power of these barely-there pastels. I might just have to borrow that line form you. 🙂 Happy holidays to you, too and Cheers to a New Year and New Decade filled with possibilities! xo Kate

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