Your use of color in design sparks a visceral reaction from people the moment they lay eyes on your creation. All of us in the home furnishings industry understand that the use of trend-right colors can instantly update older products and make them feel fresh and new. Color communicates newness and it also delivers a message to consumers that your product is up-to-date and even trend-forward.
How do you communicate meaning in your products with color globally? Or deliver trend-right colors to global citizens living within your country who’ve brought their cultures with them when they emigrated? The more you know about the emotional reactions people have to color, the better you’ll be at communicating. At The Trend Curve, we explore this topic often as we specify color for our clients.
As our world becomes even more connected, we are constantly learning and seeking other perspectives on the use of color. Two publications recently caught our eye. We came across a team asking even deeper questions about color and communication with such questions as: What color is happiness in China? Or good luck in Africa? Or anger in Eastern Europe? Are any color meanings universal across cultures and continents? We also uncovered a white paper by two academics with “…evidence that people of various cultures and/or geographic areas possess disparate perceptions and response to color which will support research demonstrating that our response to color is both physiological and learned.“
London-based designer and author David McCandless, who has written for Wired magazine and The Guardian, teamed up with Pearl Doughty-White, Alexia Wdowski and designers Always With Honor (Tyler Lang and Elsa Chaves) to create and deliver a new book entitled, “Information is Beautiful” in the UK and its American counterpart “The Visual Miscellaneum“.
While examining information visualization and the use of color, the team discovered cultural perceptions of color and created the “infographic” you see represented at left, or in the main image in this post. In fact, there has been so much interest in it that they have created it in poster size which you can order from them here.
Some of these perceptions might seem obvious, but the book illustrates why it is vital to gather data both domestically and internationally when approaching color. This is just one motivation behind The Trend Curve’s attendance at key trade fairs around the globe, shopping retail in major cities and trend spotting in multiple countries around the world. Of course, you can see the resulting trends and color forecasts in our Trend Store.
The second item that hit us was a white paper (PDF) released by two marketing professors at the University of Pennsylvania-Kutztown, Paul Sable and Okan Ackay. These two published the paper and delivered it at the February 2010 conference of the American Society of Business and Behavioral Science, an interdisciplinary group that examines and discusses key behavioral drivers which affect businesses. This is a short paper that briefly tackles areas such as:
+ What is color and how do we see it?
+ Our response to color
+ How influences affect color
+ Color and Marketing
+ Color and Branding
+ Colors and World Culture
+ Cross-cultural meanings and associations of individual colors.
It is unlikely that either of these works will do more than spark (or reinforce) your thinking about why being trend-right with colors and assortments is an imperative. This is why The Trend Curve works so hard to be accurate in our color forecasts, and concise in our trend report—so you have the tools you need to create and deliver successful products.
If you want to explore more about color perception and influences, we performed a query on color perception at Google Scholar and you can sift through the results here.