What is Pantone Color?

All About Design
  Kelly Valencia-Aiken on September 24, 2022
What is Pantone Color?

More than ten million interior designers, fashion designers, and graphic designers worldwide rely on Pantone products and services to share color-related information consistently. What is Pantone, and what makes this company the industry go-to source for color?

Before Pantone

Before Pantone, every printer had their own color guide, and reproducing the exact shade of a color like yellow was difficult. Telling a designer, “I want this shade of purple for my ad,” did not guarantee the customer would be happy once the ad was printed. Textiles and craft items like yarn had to be produced and sold in specific dye lots to ensure the colors printed would be the same in each yard of fabric or each skein of yarn.

Enter Pantone

In 1963, Pantone stepped in to solve the problem of inconsistent colors and introduced the Color Matching System, a booklet with 500 colors to help bring consistency in how colors are duplicated across printers and industries. They established themselves as the graphic design industry standard and added almost 300 more colors to their color library. In 1987, the number of colors jumped to 3,000. Creating technology they licensed to big companies like Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Microsoft, and Canon, they set out to standardize color reproduction, making it possible for companies to fine-tune and repeat colors with precision, whether printed, painted, or presented on-screen.

Fashion and Art

They further expanded into the world of fashion through events like the New York Fashion and London Fashion week. The Pantone Color Institute (PCI) publishes a Fashion Color Trend Report for the fashion industry every season featuring the top ten colors and five core classics that designers are using to introduce their newest fashion lines. Surface pattern designers and graphic designers use color predictions to create patterns and spot graphics. These designs can be placed into a product mockup, such as a product swatch to show to art directors or potential clients.

Design and Printing

Pantone colors are used in design programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, as well as many others. Pantone Connect is a plugin usable with Adobe products that give graphic designers access to 15,000 colors. These colors contain information specifying whether the color values are based on CMYK or RGB and if they should be printed on coated (C) or uncoated (U) papers. Pantone’s color information helps designers use color consistently in various industries such as textiles, apparel, beauty, interiors, home furnishings, architectural and industrial design, and printing. To reproduce color precisely, printers need to have Pantone inks—spot colors—each hand-mixed to ensure the accuracy of the color. These hand-mixed inks come at a higher price tag than a standard CMYK ink. Pantone even offers conversion spot books, which help maintain uniformity from screen to print. The material something is printed on affects the color, so Pantone offers the coated (C) and uncoated (U) inks to help keep the colors consistent.



The Pantone Color Institute is a consulting service within Pantone that forecasts color trends and helps companies establish brand identity, using the psychology and emotion of color to connect with consumers. Pantone has become a name recognized by millions for its consistency and excellence with its parent company, X-Rite, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Takeaway

Pantone has provided a way for people globally to communicate colors and reproduce them accordingly accurately. Gone are the days of guessing at a shade of yellow. Using Pantone’s color system, graphic designers, interior designers, surface pattern designers, and those they work with can confidently use a color that will be precisely what they envision.

Color Match Mockup

Do you want to see how your design looks using Pantone colors? You can test it out on our Color Match Mockup here!