2021 color forecasts center positivity, optimism

As we approach a new year in mere weeks, brands and consumers alike are closing out a tumultuous and uncertain 2020, and turning instead to what the future could hold in 2021. (Indeed, we at Cassandra just published Cassandra’s 2021 Outlook, exploring five trends that will shape youth culture in the coming year.) Interestingly, firms that broadcast color forecasts are, by and large, ushering in the upcoming year with colors that evoke positivity and hopefulness. Such color forecasts don't only prophesy what’s ahead, but also speak to needs that have arisen in the past year. Read on to learn about how a few firms are predicting the return of much-needed optimism in 2021.


For the second time ever, Pantone has chosen not one, but two colors for its annual Color of the Year forecast: Ultimate Gray and a bright yellow called Illuminating. The choices constitute another first for the color authority, as a gray has never been selected before. The gray and yellow might seem quite different; but by selecting these two colors, Pantone is shoring up a message of unity, strength, and hopefulness for the upcoming year. In fact, historically, Pantone has chosen colors that are intended to soothe consumers following a particularly tough or uncertain year.


Behr has also released its Color Trends 2021 Palette, and it’s “designed to bring ‘elevated comfort’ into your home,” per House Beautiful. The paint brand carved out six themes: Casual Comfort, Optimistic View, Subtle Focus, Calm Zone, Quiet Haven, and Outdoor Escape, each of which were delineated to emphasize positivity while also playing well with the other hues across the entire palette. What’s more, Behr partnered with influencers to share DIY projects featuring colors from this palette. The content generated for this "21 Days, 21 Colors, 21 Projects" program will be aggregated under a #21DaysOfColor hashtag, providing consumers easily translatable color inspiration.


Back in August, Sherwin-Williams revealed its Colormix® Forecast 2021. The overarching theme, called ‘Rhythm of Color,’ encompassed 40 colors that had been grouped into four palettes: Sanctuary, Encounter, Continuum, and Tapestry. Sanctuary, for example, is rooted in the idea of nature, and includes colors that signal consumers to take respite, slow down, and embrace what’s truly important, while the Tapestry palette is influenced by creative expression and encompasses “happy and modern hues [that] are meant to signal joy and layer together to tell a story through texture and pattern.” Readers can more fully explore the various palettes, their colors, and inspiration photos from Sherwin-Williams at the brand’s dedicated color forecast site.