Color, Pattern and Design Matters

Everyone has a comment or opinion on today’s announcements by Apple, but I want to make one that isn’t necessarily one that matters to engineers (either hardware or software) or, for that matter, most executives that green-light new products: pattern and design matters and color sells.

Just holding a newly introduced iPod for the first time makes a person lust after it. No question the design, the feel and the operation of these music devices is critical to their success.

While color has played a growing role in the design of the iPod, it’s even more critical to add it and get color right as a market begins to soften (as downtrending iPod sales are indicating). If you’re experiencing downtrending sales or lower growth in your product portfolio, freshen up your line with better design and great color and do it quickly.

Why? Let’s turn to the home furnishings industry for a lesson and the work my bride and business partner, Michelle Lamb, has been doing for over 21 years since her days in trend merchandising at Target Stores (and yes, she knew Ron Johnson, SVP of the Apple Stores, when they were there at the same time).

She (and a couple of other people globally) are trend forecasters for the home furnishings industry. She publishes color forecasts like this one which manufacturer’s and retailers use to ensure that the products they’re creating or delivering — and won’t ship for months and the retail channel won’t merchandise for weeks after that — are trend-right and are something the consumer will want in their home.

Though I still chuckle when asked by people, “So what are the trendy colors this year?” (as if I’d know or have learned how Michelle identifies trends and has been so accurate for over two decades), it still points out that people seek new, fresh, strategic color choices before they make an investment in furnishings or choose how to decorate.

Michelle’s work has gone beyond the home furnishings industry into day planners, stationery, plastics, and other product categories (like roofing materials of all things). Color, pattern and design specification is NOT just for women (as many of my buddies assume), but matters across gender, race, age and even economic lines.

Consider this as you’re building your product or even deciding on what color palette to choose as you design your web site, blog or application. The complexity of user experience is more than just color and eye candy (e.g., white text on a black background is hard for most people over 40 years of age to read), but color, pattern and design MUST be a key consideration for what you’re delivering, regardless of what you’re creating.

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2 Comments

  1. EMComments on October 16, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    For crying out loud Steve marry the woman! I’ve been reading your stuff on and off for some years and you keep referring to this woman you are going to marry (your “bride”). Do the decent thing, set a date and get it over.



  2. Steve Borsch on October 16, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    EMComments: I actually have made her a respectable woman (22 years ago) but I still think of her in her wedding dress and why I married her so many years ago.

    Sappy? Yep. But she likes it. 😉



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Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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