The colour we all need

Actually, we all “badly need it”. Viva Magenta 18-1750 is the colour of 2023, according to Pantone, which started this tradition in 2000 to “draw attention to the relationship between culture and colour”. A tradition that has become an eagerly awaited and propitiatory marketing ritual


“It is brave. It is fearless and it represents optimism and joy. And we know that we all need it very badly”. Words from Leatrice Eiseman, CEO of Pantone Color Institute, the company that chose Viva Magenta 18-1750 as the colour of the year 2023. A colour
The colour we all need
Pantone has been selecting a colour of the year since 2000. It looks at trends in fashion, home décor, the film world, technology and more to identify them with a clear objective: to identify a colour tone that is also representative of the historical period and popular mood. Hence, Viva Magenta, chosen for 2023, is “a pulsating colour, whose exuberance promotes a joyful and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative”. Words like ‘brave’, ‘fearless’ and ’empowerment’ recur over and over again in the company’s announcement.

The first Thursday in December

For the past 22 years, Pantone Color Institute has announced the colour of the year every first Thursday in December. “We wanted to draw attention to the relationship between culture and colour, showing how what’s happening in our global culture is expressed and reflected by the language of colour,” says the institute’s vice-president, Laurie Pressman (source: Stylepark, cited by

The history of Pantone

Pantone was founded in the 1950s as a commercial printing company producing colour charts for the cosmetic industry, fashion and medical industries. Chemist Lawrence Herbert joined the company in 1956. He noticed the difficulties faced by designers, advertising agencies and manufacturers faced in ensuring that a chosen colour was replicated exactly on products or projects. In 1962, Herbert bought the printing company and renamed it Pantone. Pan means ‘everything’, and tone means ‘colours’. He then devised the Pantone Matching System, assigning numbers to colours indicating the amount of 14 different pigments to be used to create that particular colour. Over the years, the Pantone Colour Institute has evolved and today creates distinctive shades for brands, campaigns and even film personalities. Think of the 1837 Blue created for Tiffany’s in 2001. Coca-Cola has its own red (484), and T-Mobile it’s own magenta (676C). As well as the yellow Minions.

Covid effect

For 2020, Pantone selected Classic Blue, a colour that was supposed to offer ‘a sense of peace and tranquillity to the human spirit’. Then came the pandemic. So, for 2021, the institute chose two colours. One was a joyful yellow called Illuminating, and the other was a gloomy Ultimate Grey. For 2022, Pantone went a step further, creating a new colour: Very Peri described as “a symbol of the global zeitgeist of the moment and the transition we are going through”. The novelty is that while all previous colours were chosen from the existing palette, the Very Pery has never existed before.

Viva Magenta

2023 is the year of Viva Magenta. To present it, Pantone turned to technology with some images called Magentaverse. It has not escaped notice how this colour is similar to the ‘follow’ and ‘charge’ buttons of TikTok. But despite reflecting technological advances, Pantone claims that its selection was actually inspired by nature. James Fox, Cambridge art historian and author of the book ‘The World by Colour – A Cultural History’ comments in the Guardian: ‘It seems a good and appropriate choice for a time where everything seems very grey, dark and murky and many people have lost hope. It is essentially a colour about the resilience of the human spirit‘.

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