Is it just me or does colour seem to be taking an ever-increasing role our lives?
I have noticed this particularly when on a flight at night; the landing strip is awash with colours which I’m sure were never there before. Similarly, these days motorways seem to have variously coloured cats’ eyes in contrast to the white ones in the centre of the road when I took my test (yes, it was a long time ago) – red, amber, green and even blue.
This is because colour is the most rapid, and therefore the most effective, way to direct us. (Words are the least effective form of communication.) Colour tells us when to stop and when to go. We are instructed by the colour of lights, the colour of lines, the colour of signs. We know the purpose of an emergency vehicle by colour alone; we know the role of a uniformed figure by the colours of that uniform. All forms of safety systems operate within highly specific colour codes. Different colours inform us if technology is in operation or on standby, if there is a problem with the process and, if so, what needs to be done.
Status is colour themed. Credit cards and money are colour graded. Colour is of such importance to the business of brand identification and marketing that specific colours are patented by companies to ensure sole use. Companies plough vast amounts of money into researching how people react to colour because successful colour choice can lead to stunningly successful sales; if the research is incorrect, the results can be disastrous. Fortunes have been lost simply by choosing the wrong colour for a new product. Did you hear the one about the Irish beer company that wanted to increase its Hong Kong sales? They brought out a new brand, named ‘Green Hat Beer’. It never sold because the Chinese phrase describing a man in a green hat means that man is a cuckold*. It is literally about the colour of money.
Colour is in a constant conversation with us.
A quick question: would you go out this time of year dressed in red and green – or would you be worried about your elf and safety? (tee hee)
*as told in ‘Living Colour‘ Rossbach, S & Yun, L, 1994, Kodansha International, p15-16