Pantone 2017 Color of the Year swatchFamously standardizing the language for color communication across industries, Pantone LLC is a world-renowned authority on color, and as such, annually names a hue to represent the coming year. For 2017, this color is Greenery, a beautifully vivid yellowish green that fans liken to plant life and opponents describe as Kermit colored. Love it or hate it, everyone wants to know, why was this color picked?

It may feel random to the untrained eye, but the color selection process is in fact carefully orchestrated and tends to skew more subjective than scientific. Starting nine months out, members of the Pantone Color Institute begin looking at macro influencers that span many industries and disciplines to uncover color trends. Their focus is worldwide, with travel a must. From Milan to New York City to Dubai, members of the Institute spend months visiting different cities and experiencing the art, architecture, politics and fashion of each culture to find the commonalities that connect them. Collecting “proof points” as they go, members use real-world examples to narrow down hundreds of possibilities until only one remains.

Selecting the right color is all about timing: the hue needs to be widely in use without having fully saturated the consumer market. Present, but not overdone. Pantone isn’t so much predicting a future trend as it is highlighting an existing one. Greenery, for example, started to emerge as an important color as early as 2014, but didn’t fully reach its trend potential until this year. It’s now seen in everything from Balenciaga’s spring line to Starbuck’s matcha tea lattes.

But more than just being prolific, the Color of the Year must also be emblematic of the times. Coming off the heels of a tough 2016, Greenery symbolizes renewal and hope. It evokes the fresh, life-affirming feelings associated with being in nature. As with other annual accolades, such as Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year, Pantone’s Color of the Year offers a snapshot in time of the perceived global attitude.

Just a paint swatch? Not by a long shot.

Check out our latest Pinterest board celebrating 2017’s trendiest color:

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