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What drives color trends?

What influences the graphic designers who are designing your marketing collateral, direct mail, packaging, and displays? These are four factors that Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, contributes to impacting the use of color:

1. Light and how eyes perceive color

This refers to the interaction of the object, the light source, and the observer. Did you know, nothing really has color to it? Our brain works with our eyes to translate light to color. We see color due to what wavelengths of light reflect off an object or not. Thanks Sir Newton!

The same color appears different to the eye based on lighting conditions. This is how shadows are created. The same object will appear darker on the area where light is not directly touching it. The color hasn't changed, but our perception of the color has changed due to the available light.

Color trends for events and locations take into account natural lighting and set lighting. Depending on how and where light is used, color choices will differ. In the real estate industry and area of home improvements, a white pallet has become increasingly popular. White cabinets along with light colors counter-tops and light brown or gray flooring are appealing to the eye because we perceive a sense of openness and cleanliness.

2. Culture.

Design trends are influenced by the culture around us, including colors of state or country, colors of religion, color conventions, and colors of groups (sports teams, corporations, organizations, schools).

I've seen a few sports teams make make versions of shoes specifically for schools with their school colors. I wonder if they are available in stores near those colleges.

Brands across the U.S. incorporate colors of red, white and blue. Latin cultures have historically loved bright, vibrant colors and this culture continues today.

3. Psychology of color.

Not everyone agrees on the emotions or meaning that colors evoke, but there is little disagreement that certain colors inspire certain emotions. In this article, Color Psychology: The Emotional Effects of Color, it talks about influences of warm and cool colors and there's many links to other resources to look at.

Use color to do more than look pretty. Use it to influence emotion.

4. Color fads, trends, and cycles.

There will always be color fads, trends, and cycles. To anticipate emerging trends, Bredenfoerder suggests watching the New York runways and the Hollywood red carpet, since fashion designers are often harbingers of the trends that reach the world of print and digital design.

A little bit ago, neon was a big deal, and there were many comments about how the 80's were coming back. Keep your eyes out to see which trends are cycling back.

Color is a powerful tool, but just like fonts and design style, they are always shifting. Keep your eyes open and don’t get stuck in the past.

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