On Friday, I finally learned what a color strategist does and how she does it in Part One of this two-part series.
But I wasn't quite done with Kate Smith, founder of Sensational Color and active member of The Color Marketing Group.
The idea of being so in touch and observant with colors was still quite interesting to me. I was also still waiting for Kate Smith to tell me that she rides a rainbow to work.Yes, riding a rainbow to work does seem silly and ridiculous, but maybe it's the best hyperbole you've ever read...?
Because Kate Smith has in fact long been harnessing the power of colors.
I mean, Kate Smith has seen beyond colors her whole life. She has seen the responses and reflexes that people have to colors through every stage of growing up. As a kid, this enchantment with colors compelled her to lay out her crayons in an arrangement long before using them. As a teenager, this led her to a fine arts degree in college. And, as an adult, her fascination pushed her to taking up a career in color.
"I saw how a product color or its packaging color could dramatically affect its success in the marketplace. When I learned that was more than just an instinctive idea and that it could be confirmed through pragmatic, tested information, it was like putting the final piece into a puzzle," remembers Smith. "From that point on, I knew that my primary focus was meant to be on color and in 2001, I started my own company to consult primarily with corporations on color trend forecasting and developing color strategies for their product lines."
But before that, Smith had "worked for many years in product management and marketing before pursuing color solely as a career." Smith adds, "This experience, along with my background in fine arts, gave me a good foundation of trend forecasting and color management to build upon, as I continued my exploration of color."
What you want your product to convey to a consumer may be different than what it actually is conveying. And it could very well be the product's color.
And although consumers may not be as easy to come by these days for those selling the brands, those hired on to analyze and cultivate the brand aren't doing so bad.
"Color plays such a critical role in the success of a product or brand, and so many companies are in need of a strategy based on solid color knowledge that there is room for more people to enter this field. However, I think one of the areas with the greatest potential for growth at this time is in the Residential Color Consulting business and my company is actively training individuals in this field as an entry point to a career in what I believe to be the exciting world of color," says Smith, who will be launching an interactive online platform for color education that will include information and insight from Smith, as well as her colleagues, in March.
And not only does the color industry seem to thrive in any economy, Smith finds her work exciting and gratifying, a lucky combination for any entrepreneur. "My biggest reward comes when I am able to share my expertise in a way that has helped someone feel more confident in their own ability to use and enjoy color," says Smith. "It is at that 'ah-ha' moment when a homeowner figures out how to find the perfect color or a student discovers that color wheel really can be a practical and valuable tool that I feel I have successfully shared my gift with others in the way I believe was my purpose in finding my way into this field."
Though Smith has a number of corporate clients, who also keep her on retainer as a consultant and sometimes a public speaker, she has a good deal of interest in helping entrepreneurs.
"My services can also extend into working with [entrepreneurs] on their overall company identity and image. Since the business branding is often tied to the owner's image and personality, I also take that into account when making recommendations for their colors. I also distill down trends and share with them how they can use that information very specifically to improve their business."
So, as an entrepreneur, hiring on a color strategist like Smith may improve your company's appearance, like a new girlfriend who takes you shopping and betters your wardrobe.
And Smith had sold me on her ability to improve images. I decided to take Smith up on her talent. I suppose I also simultaneously decided to add "life consultant" to Smith's lengthy resume.
I needed Kate Smith to help me impress a bunch of strangers.
Allow me to explain.
I shall be attending my girlfriend's high school reunion in a couple weeks, but I don't know what shirt to wear. I don't want to ask my girlfriend, because there's a slim chance she would want us to match. And I think that's silly. Also, I'd like to appear as a charming, independent manly man to all of her old friends.
With some Microsoft Paint magic, I did up and sent some pictures to Smith, asking what each of the four primary colors would represent to my girlfriend's former schoolmates.
I need to know which colors would impress and which ones would depress. Also, I remain fascinated with what Kate Smith does and how she does it.
And now...pictures of Jake, with commentary by Kate!
YELLOW - You are letting the world know you are energetic and have high spirits. You will catch attention with bright yellow and it is the perfect color if you want to share your creative spirit and original thinking because you'll attract curious listeners all evening, just like bees to honey.
RED - Are you wanting to let your girlfriend's former classmates know that you are popular and powerful? Then red is the way to go. It will also let them know that you like to have fun and at the ready to take charge of just about any situations, even the reunion party, if it isn't as lively as you'd like it to be.
GREEN - You'll come across as a very social person, yet as someone that places value on status and may even have a tendency to talk about people or judge them by their appearance. Not a color that will put people at ease with you right away. Choosing a yellow-green might be better, as it says you are a high energy, adventurous person that is too busy for gossip.
BLUE - Blue will have you looking cool and confident. It is a color that is naturally appealing and on you, with those blue eyes, it will be that much more attractive. Be careful, though, as blue lovers are susceptible to flattery, so don't let the admiration of those former cheerleaders and beauty queens go to your head.
Blue it is!
Thank you, Kate Smith, for teaching me what a color strategist does, how the job gets done and helping me be the smash hit of a high school reunion that I may or may not have wanted to attend in the first place.