In an effort to add value to their swatchbooks, Pantone is adding limited-edition color guides and software to its packages. Will this spur designers and printers to update their swatchbooks annually?
If you are a designer or a printer, I can practically guarantee that you have a PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE in your studio or officeâ€”they’re as ubiquitous as the Macintosh computer. And anyone who owns a PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE probably knows that they’re supposed to be tossed and repurchased every year because constant handling and the barrage of constant lighting makes the paper and colors change; however, many places I have worked used swatchbooks that were a decade old, and I’m sure they haven’t been updated since then. Pantone the company, on the other hand, is so sensitive to the need for color accuracy that they toss their FORMULA GUIDES away after every trade show and event: the three days of handling and lights is enough for Pantone to rather pitch the FORMULA GUIDES than put them back on the shelves for their customers. That’s one of the best quality control anecdotes I’ve ever heard! So how does Pantone combat the nonchalance its customers demonstrate every time they use a swatchbook dated 1999?
THE ANSWER: THE FORMULA GUIDE KIT
Pantone’s intriguing solution is to give customers more colors, more trends, and to do it all for free. For a limited time, all PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE or PANTONE ESSENTIALS purchases will include the new PANTONE COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide at no cost. COLOR
The colors in the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide are unique in that they are brand-new and will be available for only a year; in 2008 we may have a new COLOR INSPIRATION guide with new colors. Even the Pantone color numbers reflect this: “PANTONE 2007-03 C” is the standard. The color schemes are varied and look useful: “Simply Elegant” is a combination of metallics, purple and grays; “Lumens,” of bright blues, greens and pink; “Aux Naturale,” of browns, tans, grays and drab green; and “Grass Roots,” of various earth tones and greens. Along with each color combination is a second page that shows some photos of the color schemes in use on various products and things and some text explaining the inspiration behind the scheme. I should note that these aren’t products that have applied the Pantone colors, but they are indigenous things that the colors have drawn inspiration from. “Fresh Air,” for example, has a lot of baby blues, subdued greens and other cool colors to convey the freshness and airyness of water bottles, springtime, festive plates and the light green of grass in May.
The reason Pantone is looking at objects for inspiration is because everyday people are looking at Pantone for inspiration. I learned that an almost cultish attitude has been building around Pantone and its colors for some time now, an attitude Pantone is nurturing:
- Pantone-color phones are becoming the rage, showing up on fashion runways and in trendy stores. Pantone and SoftBank Mobile (known in America as Vodafone) just released 20 Pantone-colored phones to feed the excitement over this unexpected offshoot of the Pantone brand.
- Home interiors are being colored based on the Pantone colors. PANTONE PAINT is now available and color scheme palettes can be found in paint stores and www.pantonepaint.com. These palettes helped generate the idea of the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide.
- Textiles are being produced based on Pantone colors. I didn’t get any more information on this particular point.
- Search for “Pantone” on YouTube and Flickr, and you’ll find funny clips about “Pantone Chips” (Flickr) and “Pantone Blues” (YouTube). These are not viral marketing initiatives created by Pantone; these are creations by people engaged in the Pantone brand enough to have fun with it a little. Pantone is not unaware of this, and has created a cool new contest that fosters similar creativityâ€”click here to learn more!
PANTONE COLORIST AND THE COLOR SCHEMES ONLINE
COLORIST has been around for awhile so I won’t go into detail about its features, but basically it adds Pantone swatches to your Mac OS X or Windows system so almost any application can access them. With PANTONE FORMULA GUIDES and PANTONE ESSENTIALS, COLORIST accesses a part of the Pantone website called “inspireME 2007″ that shows the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 colors online with CMYK and RGB equivalents. The printed COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide only displays RGB equivalents as well as the Pantone ink combinations needed to recreate the color. On the website you can really see the photos in detail and get a feel for the color schemes.
It’s important to remember that you can’t just purchase the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guideâ€”you get one free if you buy a set of FORMULA GUIDES or PANTONE ESSENTIALS, the same swatchbooks we’ve been handling all these years. Here’s the breakdown:
- PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE two-book set (coated and uncoated), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $92
- PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE three-book set (coated, uncoated and matte), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $125
- PANTONE ESSENTIALS six-book (FORMULA GUIDES coated, uncoated, matte COLOR BRIDGEâ„¢ coated, 4-COLOR PROCESS guides coated/uncoated and Color Bridge), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $299
It’s a very logical and smart tactic, and I appreciate that Pantone is listening to its customers who want more colors, more trends, and want it all for free.
When I first heard about the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007, I had to wonder what Pantone’s motives were for offering a free swatchbook that would be republished yearly with different colors. My thought was: Why would anyone want to purchase this swatchbook year after year, when they don’t even update their formula guides year after year? It made a lot of sense then when I learned the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 was designed to make yearly swatchbook updates more enticingâ€”so many people obviously think they can get by with old swatchbooks because the colors don’t ever change, so why not offer colors that do and that tap into trends specific to the time they are produced? It’s a very logical and smart tactic, and I appreciate that Pantone is listening to its customers who want more colors, more trends, and want it all for free. A lot of companies would see the word “free” and just laugh at their customer base, but Pantone is going to pull it off. The big question is whether this will get those with the decade-old FORMULA GUIDES to change their buying habits and pay a hundred dollarsâ€”or moreâ€”year after year.
ONE MORE NEW PRODUCT FROM PANTONE
Along with the FORMULA GUIDES, Pantone customers are very familiar with chipsheetsâ€”those sheets of perforated color tabs that end up all over the place or in little plastic baggies. Pantone has created a new way for designers and creative professionals to get their chips from the studio to the client and back to the job jacket. Click here to see all the details!