RANT: Why don't paint companies post color DNA information on their chips?
Why do you think that Ben Moore and Sherwin Williams don't post the color DNA information on their paint chips?
First, all paint brands already have data values for every color - they couldn't MAKE paint colors without CIELAB values; it's the color DNA I'm always talking about.
Sherwin-Williams used to share the Munsell notations for all their colors. Learned this from a color scientist who used to work for SW and I acquired that original PDF.
We don't use the SW Munsell notations, however, because we do our own here at The Land of Color. Just because I have major control issues when it comes to notations - they have to be perfect. Especially since I share those notations in the Color DNA Table subscription.
The Master Palette (Glidden/PPG) does print a notation. It's their own proprietary color system developed in 1978. It has its own color wheel, LRV and Chroma scales. All info about the system is published in the front of The Master Palette fandeck.
Their proprietary system is different from the Munsell color notations I teach and use. Munsell is my favorite for several reasons but mostly because it's such a simple and efficient way to organize color in your head. (That was one of Munsell's goals).
Glidden's system is a damn good order system, however. It is the first and, one and only, color system designed specifically for architectural coatings. Its formal name is the Acoat Codification System.
So, color order systems for paint colors specifically have been around for decades.
All things considered from a color science perspective, I think paint brands choose to talk about undertones, color trends, and forecasts because they are intangible.
No one is ever wrong talking about undertones, trends, and forecasts because you can make up whatever you want without risk of accountability. There's a kind of banal safety in the inherent subjectivity of each one.
Paint manufacturers don't have to hire anybody with beyond-the-norm color know-how or experience to market their paint if they focus on intangibles like undertones, forecasts, and trends. Because, again, everyone refences subjective opinion and make it up as they go anyway.
When you get into the color science, data values/notations in particular, that's a unique skill set.
You can't just make up whatever you want when it comes to the science of quantifying how we see color because there's 100+ years of well-researched and well-documented sources and standards to reference about all things color spaces and systems.
And anybody can Google and find it - all of it.
Unfortunately, a lot of what you'll find is written by researchers for other researchers and it's painful to slog through the often gratuitous big words crafted into a very academic point of view on color topics.
Or the other end of the spectrum, those who go too far attempting to simplify and try to deliver the information and entertain you at the same time - I personally find this super annoying. The lightheartedness has the best intentions but I'm looking for answers not to be entertained - I have a business to run.
I've seen it from all angles because before I publish ANYTHING anywhere, I like to have 3 quality sources to cite in my back pocket. I don't do Wikipedia and I'd eat nails before citing a blog as a source for color information.
When you're speaking to color in such evidence-based, tangible terms, when you're talking about quantifying how the human eye sees color, you have to have clarity on the topic and be organized. Because it's science.
The subject of color can be approached from many different perspectives and disciplines that at first glance may seem unrelated. The natural sciences, color theory, technology, biology, philosophy, psychology, and art are all aspects of the concept "Color." — Frank Mahnke
I suspect that's more work than paint manufacturers have the bandwidth for. The murky world of undertones, trends and forecasts is cheaper, easier. And, honestly, it's probably more fun to spin in the intangibles and espouse opinions with reckless abandon, with nary a worry if it's accurate or not.
The problem is, it's 2021 and ultra portable devices like Color Muse, NIX, Color Reader, etc. are making the science, an evidence-based approach to color (data values specifically) available to anyone who looks for them in the apps.
Which means more people are learning about the color systems that have been around for 100+ years and want to know why the frameworks of color data values and notations have been unshared.
Many consumers are actively seeking some rhyme, reason and framework to use to help them find the color they want.
Right now happening online as we speak, and in paint stores across North America and beyond, consumers:
- Believe there's a code to crack in the formula and is wasting time (and maybe money) trying to decipher colorants.
- Believes RGB (or HSL) Values describe how much red, green and blue a color has *in it* and is spending time gathering these data values and trying to use them to compare colors.
- Is already using LRV to gain insight about lightness/darkness.
For many consumers a quantified color attribute (hue/value/chroma and LRV) is not a new concept. They just don't know how to synthesize and apply what they've discovered.
A couple thoughts.
Paint companies prefer using a system that lets them get all flowery and passionate about color. It's no different than than a luxury brand, carry this purse and you will feel...drink this beer and women will flock to you. Facts don't sell a lifestyle. If they use a flowery, emotion based system they can recycle ideas and who can keep track. One day a certain green is natural and earthy, the next day it can be sold as bold and jewel toned.
Facts are facts. It can only be "sold" one way.
Regarding the portable color readers, I don't think most consumers realize how powerful they can be. Paint companies and even their inventors mostly sell them as an easy way to match color from an item to a wall color. I went to a client's house, measured the fixed elements, pulled the right color based on the readings. It looked great. First question asked was "What's the undertone?" It's understandable.
I don't mind being entertained, if I can gleam something valuable. It can be a slog though, finding that nugget. The goal of the entertainment is to make a "perceived" personal connection. People are so hungry for authentic connection. Telling stories helps people feel comfortable in a way that facts have a harder time doing. I am an introvert, I naturally prefer to just get to the point. I am learning that a story can lead to trust. I want my client to trust me, so that when I leave, they can get on with their project and not go back to reading other peoples' stories.
@simplechoices I agree most consumers don't realize what the ultra portable devices can do. Using them to search the library of paint colors in the app is the least powerful and useful feature.
It's just a matter of marketing. No one is marketing the more robust features of the devices because no one wants to provide the support to consumers so they can use them for more than trying match a paint color.
Even the stores that supply and market them, haven’t trained their own staff to utilise anything more than those basic levels. ?
@colettetheglassroom training is no small undertaking and paint stores are kind of notorious for doing the bare minimum when it comes to employee development.
Manufacturers have training about paint/chemistry/colorants to funnel down to stores - and the stores are often required to purchase it or pay for a manuf. rep to come to the store in person for presentations. But when it comes to color, there's nothing to speak of.
They think the trends and forecasting marketing collateral is the same as color training.
It never even occurred to me that the stores would have to pay for training input from the paint companies, when they’re selling that company’s products!
Wow! - Still a long way to go then!
@colettetheglassroom Oh yeah. Independent paint stores have to pay for collateral and in some cases are required to purchase minimums and/or don't get a choice of what they purchase. If there's a rep at an event, it's likely they had to pay.
So not hard to get tapped out and feel like spending on training is an extra vs. investing in development.
@lorisawaya agreed. I figured I could Youtube and get all kinds of info on the ColorMuse. Nope, maybe some really old videos. This info just isn't out there (how to use the ColorMuse). And that's fine with me, because that means my services are needed. 🙂 Interesting topic. As you know, I live in a tech-heavy location, and I think the concrete data will be valuable to my clients.
@house-to-home-interiors It's true. That why I say trained Color Strategists are the unicorns of architectural color world. They have a mastery of the science of color and it provides an evidence-based foundation that enhances their intuitive color mojo.