Color Smart: How to Use Color to Enhance Your Business and Personal Life

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, 2000 - Art - 176 pages
0 Reviews
Over the years, Mimi Cooper has given her innovative insights to many Fortune 500 companies. So who is Ms. Coopers latest high-profile, fast-forward client?
Filled with insider secrets that are both fun and fascinating, this is the book that reveals what only the top experts know about color. ColorSmart explains how color impacts all of us and shows you how to use that information. Discover:
  • How to identify and make the most of your own color profile -- are you Color Forward®, Color Prudent®, or Color Loyal®?
  • Our unconscious reactions to color
  • What colors to use for business presentations to create enthusiasm for your ideas
  • How to use color to sell a house at the best price
  • Where the most "in" colors of the moment really come from

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


TWO Advanced Color Smarts
THREE Color in the Marketplace
FOUR Applied Color Smarts
FIVE Kids Colors
SIX Place Palettes
SEVEN The Future of Color
Color Ad Infinitum

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

Chapter One: Becoming Color Smart

Understanding Color Profiles

I''ve been a marketing consultant for over twenty years. When I started helping my clients to use color in their products I knew very little, but I made a lot of assumptions:

  • Fashionable (new) colors are first tried by the rich and by young, urban professionals.
  • From them the colors trickle down to the rest of us.
  • New colors are determined by a few powerful designers somewhere -- maybe Paris -- and the rest of us are forced to follow along.
  • Blue is the most popular color.

    Well, I wasn''t wrong about everything. Blue is the most popular. But otherwise, I had a lot to learn.

    In the real world, the yuppies are too busy and the rich too conservative to experiment with the newest colors. And new colors don''t just come from a few high-profile designers. Besides, if the rest of us don''t like the new colors, they fail.

    So who really tries new colors first? And what are other people doing about color?

    After a great deal of research, we saw unquestionably that there are three distinct color personalities. We named and trademarked these three color personality profiles as Color-Forward®, Color-Prudent®, and Color-Loyal®.

    Understanding these three personalities -- in terms of what they signify and who tends to fit into their profiles -- wilI be your first step toward becoming Color Smart. However, if you''re like most people, the first thing you want to know is: Which one do I fit into?

    So before we tell you what traits members of each of these three groups tend to exhibit (and therefore perhaps influence your evaluation of which one you think you''d like to be), we offer this simple self test to see with what type you will "cluster."

    First simply check off all the following statements with which you agree. And if you strongly agree with a statement, give it two checks. For now, just ignore the letters in parentheses that follow them. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. It''s all a matter of opinion. As you are answering, think about your recent color choices -- a dress, a shirt, a tie, an automobile, place mats, upholstery, or carpeting.

  • I will pay more for new, fashionable colors in clothing. (A)
  • I usually buy new colors/products after my friends have tried them. (B)
  • I buy products in colors that are practical, rather than stylish. (C).
  • I have to see a color several times before I get used to it. (B)
  • I feel good when I buy something in a new color for myself. (A)
  • I rarely try a new color unless someone else suggests it. (C)
  • I think the new colors in clothing do not look as good on me as the colors I usually wear. (C)
  • I am a middle-of-the-road person in choosing colors -- some new and some old favorites. (B)
  • I would rather buy something in a new, fashionable color than replace something with the same color. (A)
  • I am excited to see the new colors of the season. (A)
  • I do not have time to figure out how to add a new color to my wardrobe. (B)
  • I like basic, traditional colors. (C)
  • Shopping would be better if there were fewer changes in color from year to year. (C)
  • I like to be considered a leader when it comes to buying new products on the market. (A)
  • I am too practical to try a new color the first time I see it. (B)
  • I am not the first person to try new colors, but I will try them when I have seen them a few times. (B)
  • I like to learn about the newest fashionable colors from magazines, salespeople, store displays, etc. (A)
  • I will buy fashionable colors only if I think they are not a fad. (C)

Now just count up your total number of check marks (doubles for "strongly agree" count as two), and see whether you have more A''s, B''s or C''s.

If you scored more A''s, you are what we call Color-Forward; more B''s and you are ColorPrudent; more C''s, Color-Loyal. You''ll undoubtedly recognize yourself in the section below that defines your group''s predominant characteristics.

We understand if you want to sneak a peek ahead in the text to locate yourself and your kindred color spirits -- but do be sure to read all three profiles. After we describe them, we will explain how you can use them to your greatest advantage in your personal and professional life.


Every year, these people can''t wait to see the new colors for fall; they can''t wait to see the new colors for spring. They want to do more than view these colors out of curiosity. They long to embrace them and make them their own.

Color-Forward women love to peruse store displays for the latest color trends. You''ll usually find them wearing the latest "in" shades. And they don''t necessarily care if the new colors don''t go with everything else they have. They''re willing to spend more on a wardrobe to keep it "color current."

Color-Forward men are intrigued by new colors for cars, trucks, and SUVs, and you''ll often find them driving a vehicle in a color none of their pals has yet tried. (This is the sort of guy who was big, for example, on the Ford Mustang iridescent "mood-ring" color that looked purplish from one angle and bluish/teal from another.

No self-respecting Color-Forwards would ever consider redecorating their home in colors they''d previously tried. And when they buy a new house, the first thing they do is repaint and recarpet in new colors. Their home furnishings tend to be contemporary, and they enjoy using their homes, like their clothing and their automobiles, to make bold and exciting statements. They often try more than one new color at a time, experimenting with daring combinations. They are the people that would cheerfully have paid $200 more for the colored iMac computer when it made its debut.

From a psychological perspective, Color-Forwards tend to evince personality traits of self-confidence, adventurousness, and enthusiasm. They are less afraid than the average bear when it comes to going out on a limb and taking risks. And as you may have suspected, they are not put off by change, but tend to welcome it.

From an economic perspective, it is Color-Forwards who drive consumer markets. They spend a lot on themselves, and feel they''re worth it.

Demographically (for demographics are still part of the equation), Color-Forwards make up about 20 percent of the population. More women than men are Color-Forward, and Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to be Color-Forward.

Interestingly, this category tends to contain two disparate age groups. First, there are the teens through thirtysomethings, who pride themselves on having an up-to-the-minute sense of style. One might well expect them to be Color-Forward. However, they are often joined by another set -- women and men in the forty-five to sixty-five age bracket whose kids have grown, who have more disposable income, and who use splashes of new color to feel youthful and invigorated. For them, the goal of being "cool" or trendy is what we call a revisited value.

If you live in a city in the Southwest or the MidAtlantic States, you are statistically more liable to be Color-Forward. But Color-Forwards can, and do, pop up everywhere.


Don''t be surprised if you feel most comfortable in this category, for it is where half of us fall. Color-Prudents are somewhat cautious when it comes to color choice. They want to feel secure in the knowledge that new colors will be around for more than one fleeting season, that big-ticket items in new shades will retain their resale value, and that they won''t quickly grow tired of what they buy.

True, they''re not trying to be on the cutting edge of color fashion, but they do believe color adds zip to life and they are interested in what''s up and coming. They pay attention to store displays and catalogs to see what colors have staying power.

On a given day, you might find them dressed in the same color as a Color-Forward friend, but odds are high that they would have added that color to their wardrobe months later, after others had tested the waters. And often, when they try a new color, they try it in a small dose at first, perhaps as an accessory, and in combination with a trusty old color they are used to.

Color-Prudents are not resistant to change, but they do not make change for its own sake. They are informed and pragmatic and want to know that whatever changes they make will prove functional and useful for some time to come. They are also attentive and will distinguish and seek out, for example, softer shades within a color.

Being impulsive is not among the personality traits of the Color-Prudent type. But neither are these people sticks in the mud. Though involved in lots of other things, they enjoy the idea of updating a wardrobe or home now and again.

Demographically, men and women comprise equal halves of Color-Prudents. And this group falls mostly in the middle-income range.


The only way a Color-Loyal sort of person is likely to try a new color is -- not to put too fine a point on it -- kicking and screaming. For this group, traditional values are the be-all and end-all.

Usually Color-Loyals are comfortable with consistency in colors and don''t plan on changing. These pe

Bibliographic information