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Forecasting Color

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I have said it before, and will say it over and over again if I ever write a book. I might just title it, Color is the Most Important Selection of Any Design.

Color says everything that you can’t say. It speaks intention and calls attention to every detail and function. It creates an emotion that causes an instant reaction. It can trigger someone to purchase a product or walk away from a product. Without color, life would just be boring.

Arguably, color and its effect on product is at its most prominent space in sneaker culture right now. Everyone is wearing some sort of bright color, whether that person is up on trends or just grabbing a pair of shoes to have, consumers are embracing bold placements of color like never before.

Color has many different facets as to how it is selected. The number one facet is trend forecasting. There isn’t a creative institute that I have been to that doesn’t have some sort of team that is solely dedicated to researching, indicating, and applying color and trends to a line of products.

Selecting color trends and knowing how it applies to specific products is an art and a very meticulous and specific process. Because a color says so much for what a product is, you have to have a very good reason as to why it is important for your new design to have that color.

If you misjudge your color and how successful it can or can’t be on a design, it means you mis-judged your market, and specifically your consumer. And if you misjudge your consumer, then you completely failed as a designer.

Have you ever wondered how almost the same exact hue of color ends up on two different brands at the same time? How does adidas have the exact same red as Nike? Are they copying them? The answer is no (unless it is a color similar to Volt, then the answer is yes, because everyone copied Nike on that, but that is another conversation).

The reason why they both have a color similar to each other is because of good trend forecasting. By watching what is going on in their consumers’ lives, they were able to predict that particular hue, shade and value of red that would resonate most with them.

For the most part, where you see color forecasting happening is in the non-core palette colors. For athletic shoes, you always have your basic colors that remain consistent and shift very, very slowly over time. They do change, but it is rarely noticeable to the consumer.

Most of the time it is cleaning the color up to make it more pure. They are iconic with their various sports: Black, White, Varsity Red, Carolina Blue, True Blue, Kelly Green, Maize, Yellow. I am sure there are more depending on the brand, but you get the picture.

From there, almost every brand has their pop colors, their colors that excite the consumer and really highlight what the shoe was intended to do. These colors are the colors that need the most forecasting because they have a shorter life span. Their place in pop culture is meant to capture a moment in time, it is not meant to live forever.

I put together three boards of current color spaces that are trending pretty heavily right now. Outside of the current high contrast black and white trend, these three spaces have the most life to them. The question is: will they resonate with the consumer?

I say yes, especially orange. It isn’t here yet, but it’s coming very soon. Give it until the end of the summer or early fall.

Be sure to stay up on trends and follow the colors below to keep yourself looking ill all year round.

Forecasting Color - Blue Forecasting Color - Orange

Forecasting Color - Red

Other posts by Brett Golliff:

Brett Golliff, footwear extraordinaire, is founder of BrettGolliff.com, contributor for Complex, and has previously designed for New Balance. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram.