Pantone Adds Color Inspiration Guide + Software To Swatchbook Purchases

If you are a design­er or a print­er, I can prac­ti­cal­ly guar­an­tee that you have a PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE in your stu­dio or office—they’re as ubiq­ui­tous as the Macintosh com­put­er. And any­one who owns a PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE prob­a­bly knows that they’re sup­posed to be tossed and repur­chased every year because con­stant han­dling and the bar­rage of con­stant light­ing makes the paper and col­ors change; how­ev­er, many places I have worked used swatch­books that were a decade old, and I’m sure they haven’t been updat­ed since then. Pantone the com­pa­ny, on the oth­er hand, is so sen­si­tive to the need for col­or accu­ra­cy that they toss their FORMULA GUIDES away after every trade show and event: the three days of han­dling and lights is enough for Pantone to rather pitch the FORMULA GUIDES than put them back on the shelves for their cus­tomers. That’s one of the best qual­i­ty con­trol anec­dotes I’ve ever heard! So how does Pantone com­bat the non­cha­lance its cus­tomers demon­strate every time they use a swatch­book dat­ed 1999?



Pantone’s intrigu­ing solu­tion is to give cus­tomers more col­ors, more trends, and to do it all for free. For a lim­it­ed time, all PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE or PANTONE ESSENTIALS pur­chas­es will include the new PANTONE COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide at no cost. COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 con­tains 56 new col­ors, for­mu­lat­ed specif­i­cal­ly for off­set print­ing and orga­nized in groups of sev­en col­or schemes that match this year’s trends. Along with COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007, buy­ers receive a copy of the PANTONE COLORIST soft­ware, which allows users to choose Pantone col­ors in prac­ti­cal­ly any com­put­er appli­ca­tion. This soft­ware will remain avail­able to any­one at a cost of $49.95, but those who pur­chase new FORMULA GUIDES get it for free.


The col­ors in the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide are unique in that they are brand-new and will be avail­able for only a year; in 2008 we may have a new COLOR INSPIRATION guide with new col­ors. Even the Pantone col­or num­bers reflect this: “PANTONE 2007-03 C” is the stan­dard. The col­or schemes are var­ied and look use­ful: “Simply Elegant” is a com­bi­na­tion of metallics, pur­ple and grays; “Lumens,” of bright blues, greens and pink; “Aux Naturale,” of browns, tans, grays and drab green; and “Grass Roots,” of var­i­ous earth tones and greens. Along with each col­or com­bi­na­tion is a sec­ond page that shows some pho­tos of the col­or schemes in use on var­i­ous prod­ucts and things and some text explain­ing the inspi­ra­tion behind the scheme. I should note that these aren’t prod­ucts that have applied the Pantone col­ors, but they are indige­nous things that the col­ors have drawn inspi­ra­tion from. “Fresh Air,” for exam­ple, has a lot of baby blues, sub­dued greens and oth­er cool col­ors to con­vey the fresh­ness and airy­ness of water bot­tles, spring­time, fes­tive plates and the light green of grass in May.

detailA detail from COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007.

The rea­son Pantone is look­ing at objects for inspi­ra­tion is because every­day peo­ple are look­ing at Pantone for inspi­ra­tion. I learned that an almost cultish atti­tude has been build­ing around Pantone and its col­ors for some time now, an atti­tude Pantone is nurturing:

  • Pantone-color phones are becom­ing the rage, show­ing up on fash­ion run­ways and in trendy stores. Pantone and SoftBank Mobile (known in America as Vodafone) just released 20 Pantone-colored phones to feed the excite­ment over this unex­pect­ed off­shoot of the Pantone brand.
  • Home inte­ri­ors are being col­ored based on the Pantone col­ors. PANTONE PAINT is now avail­able and col­or scheme palettes can be found in paint stores and www​.pan​tone​paint​.com. These palettes helped gen­er­ate the idea of the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide.
  • Textiles are being pro­duced based on Pantone col­ors. I did­n’t get any more infor­ma­tion on this par­tic­u­lar point.
  • Search for “Pantone” on YouTube and Flickr, and you’ll find fun­ny clips about “Pantone Chips” (Flickr) and “Pantone Blues” (YouTube). These are not viral mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives cre­at­ed by Pantone; these are cre­ations by peo­ple engaged in the Pantone brand enough to have fun with it a lit­tle. Pantone is not unaware of this, and has cre­at­ed a cool new con­test that fos­ters sim­i­lar creativity—click here to learn more!


COLORIST has been around for awhile so I won’t go into detail about its fea­tures, but basi­cal­ly it adds Pantone swatch­es to your Mac OS X or Windows sys­tem so almost any appli­ca­tion can access them. With PANTONE FORMULA GUIDES and PANTONE ESSENTIALS, COLORIST access­es a part of the Pantone web­site called “inspireME 2007” that shows the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 col­ors online with CMYK and RGB equiv­a­lents. The print­ed COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide only dis­plays RGB equiv­a­lents as well as the Pantone ink com­bi­na­tions need­ed to recre­ate the col­or. On the web­site you can real­ly see the pho­tos in detail and get a feel for the col­or schemes.

websiteThe COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 col­ors online.


It's important to remember that you can't just purchase the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide—you get one free if you buy a set of FORMULA GUIDES or PANTONE ESSENTIALS, the same swatchbooks we've been handling all these years. Here's the breakdown:

  • PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE two-book set (coated and uncoated), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $92
  • PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE three-book set (coated, uncoated and matte), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $125
  • PANTONE ESSENTIALS six-book (FORMULA GUIDES coated, uncoated, matte COLOR BRIDGEâ„¢ coated, 4-COLOR PROCESS guides coated/uncoated and Color Bridge), COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 guide and COLORIST software included for $299


It's a very logical and smart tactic, and I appreciate that Pantone is listening to its customers who want more colors, more trends, and want it all for free.

When I first heard about the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007, I had to wonder what Pantone's motives were for offering a free swatchbook that would be republished yearly with different colors. My thought was: Why would anyone want to purchase this swatchbook year after year, when they don't even update their formula guides year after year? It made a lot of sense then when I learned the COLOR INSPIRATION/ 2007 was designed to make yearly swatchbook updates more enticing—so many people obviously think they can get by with old swatchbooks because the colors don't ever change, so why not offer colors that do and that tap into trends specific to the time they are produced? It's a very logical and smart tactic, and I appreciate that Pantone is listening to its customers who want more colors, more trends, and want it all for free. A lot of companies would see the word "free" and just laugh at their customer base, but Pantone is going to pull it off. The big question is whether this will get those with the decade-old FORMULA GUIDES to change their buying habits and pay a hundred dollars—or more—year after year.


Along with the FORMULA GUIDES, Pantone customers are very familiar with chipsheets—those sheets of perforated color tabs that end up all over the place or in little plastic baggies. Pantone has created a new way for designers and creative professionals to get their chips from the studio to the client and back to the job jacket. Click here to see all the details!

Pariah Burke

Author, consultant, trainer, guru: Digital Publishing, ePub, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark. Empowering, Informing, Connecting Creative Professionals™

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