PORTLAND, United States – Mark Twain said clothes make the man – but now you’re as likely to be judged on your mobile phone. Whip out a handset with a QWERTY keyboard and people think you’ve got some urgent business to email. Conducting conversations on a colorful candybar phone might indicate a more – shall we say – ‘radical’ sense of style.
Color triggers responses in our central nervous system, and affects our cerebral cortex. It triggers memories and arouses emotion. We feel it deeply. The color of a room or object can make us more receptive, angry, happy or aroused. The color of a box of breakfast cereal can make it stand out and lift it off the shelf. Some of that depends on hue and saturation, or light. But there’s no doubt that there are basic color associations cleverly used in products. Kodak yellow makes up happily think of the golden sands of far-away shores. The dark IBM blue somberly reminds us that there’s serious work to be done. Very authoritative.
In Western cultures, red is the color of passion, love and seductiveness – but it’s also the color of violence and blood. There’s a reason for ‘red alert’.
Green is the color of growth, nature and calm contemplation. Today we associate green with eco-friendliness, agriculture and a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Guess what color John Deere tractors are?
Blue can be cold and depressing over a wide area, but a bright pale blue, like water or the sky, is one of the most powerful colors we experience – and manages to be calming and stimulating at the same time. And winners get a blue ribbon.
So why, when there are so many interesting colors to choose from, are so many cell phones black? Are they all made for trendy New Yorkers?
Sometimes manufacturers take a chance and release one in white too.
In other words, many phone makers appear to want to be as neutral as possible.
If you’re risk-averse, you could argue that mobile phones come in neutral colors so that consumers can dress them up with snazzy add-ons and fancy cases. In fact, the market for mobile phone accessories is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Luckily, Nokia has always been determined to buck the trend of boring handsets, and release us from any color, as long as its black. The old Nokia 5146 was the first to give us colorful snap-on cases. Fast forward to the N8 and you can get a handset in blue, green, orange, pink, silver – and yes, black if you insist. Now orange, that is a very brave color; you either love it or hate it.
And the rather fantastic looking new Nokia N9 and Nokia Lumia 800 look good in cyan, magenta and black. Nokia Lumia 710 owners get even more, with black and white chassis choices and then a choice of black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow back covers.
If you’re female, you may be over pink. Bye bye Barbie. But there’s a rumor that some senior male Nokia execs are sporting that pink handset. The University of Iowa Hawkeye Coach Hayden Fry had the visiting teams’ locker room painted pink to reduce their aggression. So chill out men, and embrace your softer side.