Honeysuckle, Rise: Pantone’s Hot Color for 2011 Puts Brands in the Pink


Brands are vying to go green, but maybe they should be thinking pink.

And by pink, we mean the exuberantly retro shade of pink officially known as Pantone 18-2120 TCX, which has just been named the hot color for 2011.

In announcing its next color of the year, Pantone calls it “honeysuckle pink,” and a “vibrant, energetic” shade of pink.

Others prefer to call it Mad Men pink.[more]

Tom Mirabile, head of global trends and design at Lifetime Brands, which owns the Cuisinart and Mikasa brands, calls it (in comments to the Wall Street Journal), “a very Mad Men pink. It’s like the lipstick our mothers wore. There’s a retro aspect to it that’s going to be very popular.”

Jonathan Adler, the 60s-loving American interior and housewares designer, adds, “There’s an innate optimism to pink.”

The warm hot pink hue was deemed by designers polled by Pantone as “a pick-me-up at a time when many people have had their fill of misfortune.”

Each year, Pantone, the global leader in color design for its standards for identifying and matching colors, picks a color based on polling designers from around the world.

Already, versions of honeysuckle pink are showing up in nail polish; dresses by Dessy, Peter Som and others; and household items including sofas, pillow cases, and even appliances, sealing the deal for Pantone to identify it as the hot color trend going into 2011.

Visa is offering the card shown above, while New York fashion designer Nanette Lepore says her “hot melon” variation of the color is selling “brilliantly.” Ken Downing describes the color as “orange coral” when he looks at fashion for Nieman Marcus. Crate & Barrel is making dishes, furniture and accessories using the honeysuckle variant as well as another variation called “pink flambe.”

Leatrice Eisenman, the director of Pantone’s Color Institute for 25 years, first started seeing the shade on sports equipment geared at women and then saw it recur on fashion runways in the recent round of spring/summer 2011 runway shows.

She sees it as a marked contrast to the earthier, more subdued tones of clothing currently sold in stores, and an indicator that the global mood is lightening. “Graphic designers today are right there at the cutting edge,” she tells the Journal.

With the Pantone blessing, watch for brand and product marketers to start emphasizing honeycolor pink, both because it’s already trending upwards and it has now been labeled “the” color of 2011. But the selection of a hot color doesn’t mean it will be used to the exclusion of others. Turquoise, the Pantone color of 2010, just happens to look smashing with hot pink, so it will likely continue to be used in 2011.

Leatrice Eiseman says Pantone’s annual picks are typically vivid shades, with reds being “a marketer’s delight.” Reds, pinks, and oranges have been common selections. Still, the 2009 color, a golden “Mimosa,” broke the mold, being the decade’s only yellow hue.

The 2011 color pick, however, is one of the few annual winners to have a readymade theme song: