Color Trends for 2021 – A Return to Humanity and Nature

As 2020 draws to a close and we look toward a new year, many of you are busy updating your editorial calendar. Part of that process is mocking up the visuals that will dominate your print and digital materials for next year.

If your team is creating mood boards and mockups, you might be wondering what the experts have predicted to be the most popular colors for the coming year.

Shutterstock just released their annual Color Trend Report featuring three colors that are expected to be a big part of graphic design for 2021.

As Shutterstock wrote in their report “Colors are so important to our every experience. Even when you don’t notice them, there they are, shaping a place or supporting a visual with warmth or coolness, brightness or darkness, similarity or contrast. The power of color comes from emotion — how we think and feel when we see them. From historically created meanings to deep-set biological reactions, we give story to color as color gives substance to our visual world.”

READ: 3 Ways the Pyschology of Color Can Change Your Catalog Strategy

Shutterstock chose the three top colors for its report based on “colors that have seen increased activity in the last year, popping up in more image downloads than ever before. By looking at the HEX code data in each pixel, we can see the hues that are primed to dominate in the year to come. These are the colors that will tell the story of 2021, appealing to universal audiences in visuals across the world.”

The first color featured in the report is a neutral called Set Sail Champagne, which I admit, is a bit anticlimactic at first glance.

But as Shutterstock noted, “after a year of head-jerking change, we’d all like to ship ourselves somewhere far away from it all. With its soft, organic feel, Set Sail Champagne is a natural, blank canvas of escapism — make it what you want (or need).”

Color Trends of 2021

Similarly, 99Designs predicts that “color trends for 2021 are amping up to be a drastic response to a lot of the trends that were slated to define the past year. In 2019, we thought the next decade would be defined by futuristic designs and bright, bold, colors. Then 2020 happened.”

99Designs also foreshadows color trends that are calming and soothing. They write, “the upcoming color trends are softer and feel like they were picked for humans, not for computers. The past year pushed us to reconnect with our humanity, and in 2021, we’ll see that connection play out visually.”

In the Shutterstock, 99Designs and other reports predicting upcoming color trends, a return to humanity and nature seems to be a recurring theme.

Even the second color featured in Shutterstock’s report – a warm, deep gold called Fortuna Gold – feels organic (though dramatic!), not kitschy, gaudy or unnatural.

READ: Catalog Marketing: Choosing the Right Colors

Shutterstock recommends pairing Fortuna Gold with other intense colors, but it also looks great against the neutral Set Sail Champagne.

2021 Color Trend Report

The final featured color in Shutterstock’s report is Tidewater Green – a vibrant dark teal.

2021 Color Trend Report

According to the report, on the color wheel its direct companion is another hybrid color, red orange. These colors match up well in super saturated schemes that mimic the blue green of the ocean and warm pops of color seen in fish and coral reef.

At The Dingley Press, we are excited to see what color trends will dominate the catalog market in the coming months.

Certainly we are all looking for a reprieve from the craziness of 2020 – it will be interesting to see how that plays out in design next year.

About the Author: Jim Gibbs

Vice President of Sales & Marketing at The Dingley Press. Jim has been with Dingley since 2002 and lives in Maine near our Lisbon, Maine plant location.