Colors of eCommerce

October 19, 2009


Remember the first time you noticed that the biggest fast food chain restaurants all had red and yellow in their logos? If you’re at all like me (which you may not be..) the excitement of this discovery was quickly overcome by the realization that originality often comes at a premium in this world. And that sometimes successful business meant borrowing, and borrowing some more.

Well another similar color pattern has emerged in our consumption-driven economy. Blue and orange have seemed to end up wherever mass business transactions appear on the mighty internets, with  eCommerce giants Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Sears, and Zappos all incorporating the colors into their pallets. There’s no doubt color can have a strong impact in design, but while physiological studies claim to tie the colors red to appetite, it’s not so clear that blue and orange equate to “buy” as much as this is just another game of follow the leader.

The implications of the new blue and orange internet take-over aren’t so clear. Much like restaurants and fast food, many reputable eCommerce sites don’t use these colors – but the largest ones all seem to. It would interesting to take a look at how the color coordination of fast food affected the greater restaurant and food-consumption market. (Volunteers?)

Here’s one prediction though: wearing blue and orange clothing together will become less fashionable by the day …making you look more and more like a website. Kind of like wearing red and yellow tends to make you look like a giant hotdog. Speaking of food..


Blurry Ride Home

August 18, 2008

The other night I rode this giant white box of advertising home from downtown San Francisco. Look closely though – its actually a MUNI light rail car in disguise, covered from front to back, window to window, with advertising for Pixar’s newest animated film, Wall-E.  I had seen these decorated trains before and thought it was some creative and good ad work.  Can you guess how my perspective changed a bit after riding one?

Just as one would assume from seeing the outside of one of these trains, it was nearly impossible to see outside the windows from inside the car at night.  Thankfully I’ve ridden the line enough times to be comfortable with my own stop.  Others clearly weren’t, and I sat there helpless, watching people squint and struggle and scowl in frustration trying to read blurry street signs and store-front lights through the painted windows.  Who knows how many folks were made late to wherever they were going because of misinterpreting their distorted surroundings and getting off at the wrong stop!  On the other hand, with a dozen or so of these cars around the city, I’m sure they helped raise movie attendance — that is assuming most people didn’t try to take these trains to the theatre.

It’s a painful case of conflicting interests: advertising vs. a sane commuter experience.  There were no winners this day.