Pantone Color of the Year is Illuminating Yellow, definitely not for Cyberpunk 2077

When I saw the two colors Pantone chose for their annual "Pantone Color of the Year", I was shocked. One is "Ultimate Gray," an eponymous representation of the color half way between white and black. The other is a very, very bright yellow – Illuminating! We suspected this yellow was chosen due to the launch of the most hyped-up video game launch of the year, Cyberpunk 2077. But it wasn't. This yellow is ever-so-slightly different from the one used by the future product powerhouse.

We checked with CD Projekt Red about the color used for promotional materials for Cyberpunk 2077 – theirs is Pantone 3945C, aka RGB 243, 230, 0, without its own special name. The colors included in this year's set of Pantone Color of the Year 2021 are PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. The yellow is also RGB 245, 223, 77, while the gray is also RGB 147, 149, 151.

"The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude," said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of The Pantone Color Institute. "Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope."

Pantone suggested that this gray represents solid and dependable elements, "everlasting" and a "firm foundation." The Illuminating yellow is "bright and cheerful," "sparkling with vivacity", and "imbued with solar power."

To be extra clear, here, these are the colors of 2021, not 2020. The color of the year for 2020 was Classic Blue. Pantone names their color (or colors) of the year near the end of the year previous, to make ready the oncoming year. These colors don't aim to blanket the past, but to represent the future. "We need to feel encouraged and uplifted," said Eiseman, "this is essential to the human spirit." As was true with past announcements of Pantone Color of the Year, the company offers swatches and products with their named colors – products aplenty!