August 30, 2011
Seeing Room Copenhagen’s new “Pantone Universe” products at Gift Fair (like the multicolored, Mobius-strip shaped hangers above, left) set me to thinking about all the various and sundry packaged Pantone products—real and imagined. (Poster illustration on right is by Base Design)
Although many graphic designers seem to identify with this brand, it always seemed to me that the market for multicolored PANTONE accessories ought to be a pretty small niche. There would undoubtedly be brand loyalists who would happily eat, sleep & breath the PANTONE logo, but those consumers should be far fewer in numbers, than, say, consumers willing to wear a Coca Cola logo.
Pantone is ubiquitous in graphics departments around the world, the metric by which designers define just the right shade of blue for the Gap’s logo (Pantone 655) and the perfect pink for Barbie’s (Pantone 820). Pantone chips likewise help Kellogg’s enhance a cereal box to stand out on the shelf by using “spot” colors more vibrant than the mixes that emerge from the standard four-color printing press.
Allison Fass, “The Color of Money”
Still, despite a certain backlash tendency, there seems to be no shortage of licensing deals and creative energy expended in this direction.
Personally, I find the PANTONE color system a bit kludgy and cumbersome.
Their solid color matching system requires that printers have a set of 14 different PANTONE approved base color inks, in order to correctly mix all of the admixture hues and tones. To me, this is like some inelegant logarithmic table, compared to the simple and logical algebra of CMYK— with 4 process colors.
For certain colors, however, specially mixed solid color inks will be much brighter than CMYK combinations. Correctly specifying those “spot” colors has become increasingly important for retail consumer packaging and for that PANTONE has no competition.
Real and imaginary PANTONE products are generally much more effective when displayed in a multicolored group. (See: Rainbow Array Packaging) Although PANTONE cannot trademark the idea of a color assortment, in the minds of many designers, color = PANTONE.
Graphically, these package designs are usually minimal, based as they are on the layout of a tiny color chip swatch with PANTONE’s Helvetica logo and identifying code number.
(1,114 examples, after the fold…)
Sometimes the product idea is a verbal or brand-name pun. As in….
PANTONE (potato) chips. (2008 concept packaging by Thoughtful) …
or PANTONE swatch-(watch). (2009 conceptual co-branding by Paul Finn)
Note: while the Swatch brand did, indeed, come out with a similar concept, it was not co-branded with PANTONE, and you have to ask yourself: What % of the profits would a PANTONE swatch pun have been worth? The actual non-PANTONE Swatch packaging appears, on the right. (via: We Made This) …
or PANTONE (Panettone) cakes. (2007 promotional packaging for Greenford Printing designed by Purpose.)
Here’s a rare case in which the referencing of PANTONE makes a good deal of demographic sense. It’s not a retail product, but a gift promotion for a printing company — a large portion of whose clients would likely be print designers (who like getting edible Holiday gifts) and who are well-acquainted with the PANTONE Color Matching System.
Much of the conceptual PANTONE packaging re-imagines other multicolored products as part of PANTONE’s system. Paints for example…
Cosmetics are another example…
Concept packaging for PANTONE eye shadow & PANTONE nail polish from Renata Veiga’s Behance Portfolio
Consumer food packaging is less often imagined, but Danny Halvorson’s 2009 PANTONE juice concept is one particularly vivid example:
(via: King Koala)
Optical products, perhaps, make a certain kind of sense. Since you see colors with your eyes. Not that you improve your visual acuity or color perception by wearing PANTONE Universe Eyewear …
… or by storing your contact lenses in these PANTONE contact lens cases by Kikkerland:
Another of Kikkerland PANTONE products are toothbrushes:
PANTONE mugs appear to be selling well. Here again, I think the product never looks as good individually as in a large assortment. Maybe this makes for a better business model. (Collect all 1,114!)
They do sell assorted sets, but the packaging is nothing special: clunky folding cartons. (Photo via: Re-do It Design) The hangtags do a better job of referencing the famous PANTONE chip.
Selletti makes these tin containers as products, in their own right. Again one of these products by itself would seem underwhelming unless it were your “favorite color” or something. With these and other items, probably there is an attempt to manufacture quantities matching statistically popular consumer color preferences. Selletti makes other PANTONE products as well. Here’s an animated “unpacking” gif of one of their boxes: a shipping box with a color-identifying sticker, design to resemble a PANTONE color swatch.
(Photo animation via: John Green Designs)
Clothing is another obvious, colorful category to which the PANTONE brand can be applied.
The PANTONE socks packaging shows a generic, black & white header card applied to the different color socks. The color swatch logo appears on the actual socks, but is only ever printed in white, since the sock fabric provides the color. This saves money. Even if you could sell 1,114 different colors of socks, you certainly wouldn’t want to have to print a different matching PANTONE spot color on the packaging for each of those sock colors.
Likewise, Uniqlo’s PANTONE T-shirt packaging shows some budgetary choices.
If these were nail polish bottles instead of T-shirt tubes, one might expect the caps to match the color of the contents. Instead they are all red. The insert also appears to be the same in each case. The packaging shows you the product color simply by being transparent, and not be means of a PANTONE color swatch.
Beach Packaging Design