Obnoxious Use of Color

IBD Management would like to welcome the return of snarky Shea back from his hiatus after several weeks of posts that were slightly confusing, borderline awkward, and weepy.

Well, it is official that Paul and I have gone 10 posts without one that carries the underlying theme of sports. Now that I have separated myself from the touchy-feely Shea (much like the Tickle Me Elmo), there is something that has been bothering me for several weeks and I just have to get it off of my chest—the use of the color orange by the University of Tennessee should be banned.

I have always considered the color orange to be my favorite color. There is something about it that makes me want to buy orange clothing and accessories (primarily sweater vests and bow ties), as well as anything that I don’t already have that comes in orange. I also find myself using it in design work, just because I like looking at it, even though I usually end up changing it to something different.

The strange part of this obsession is that I love the color orange and it really bothers me how it is abused by the University of Tennessee. You would think that since I am drawn to the color orange, then I would be interested in supporting the University of Tennessee. But in reality I have a strong emotional connection against the University of Tennessee and if they really want to be the Volunteers, well, I wish they would volunteer to dial that color down and make the world a better place. I should provide you with some background information of why I carry so much disdain for the University of Tennessee and its obnoxious use of orange.

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and by default most Memphians are fans of either the University of Memphis or the University of Tennessee. (Before Paul makes a comment, I will insert that I am a Yankee fan due to a strong influence of my grandfather and with baseball I really had no choice.) That being said, I attended school at the University of Memphis and found a great outlet of my inner anger and frustration that could be directed towards the University of Tennessee’s sports teams. It was and still is a great outlet. In fact, the single greatest moment in my college life was when the University of Memphis beat the University of Tennessee on the football field at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, November 9, 1996, by the score of 21-17. Well, that’s the single greatest moment in my college life, next to meeting my wife.

Tennessee-TSo, I love the color orange and hate the way the University of Tennessee abuses it.

So, why am I drawn to the color orange? A lot of thought has been put into the psychology behind how and why people respond to various colors and color palettes. I wish there were a solid foundation of color theory that everyone could agree upon as the definitive expert on what colors mean to individuals. There is no such source, but rather many theories and interpretations. Many are contradictory to others, with others finding common ground. Care.com offers this interpretation of my personality based on my connection to the color orange.

Orange: This color of luxury and pleasure appeals to the flamboyant and fun-loving person who likes a lively social round. Orange people may be inclined to dramatize a bit, and people notice them, but they are generally good-natured and popular. They can be a little fickle and vacillating, but on the whole they try hard to be agreeable. Orange is the color of youth, strength, fearlessness, curiosity and restlessness.

I’m not so sure about the “fickle and vacillating” portion of the analysis, but there may be some truth there. This site offers an analysis of most colors and the personality traits that may be associated with specific colors. The problem with this type of analysis is that I find it to be about as valuable as what you would find in a fortune cookie. Maybe that’s what she means by “fickle and vacillating.”

In interpretive design we try to use colors to connect the tangibles to intangibles. Colors are used to help connect visitors to a resource. They can be used to evoke emotion, represent a sense of place, or even be used to create an environmental design that has little impact on the setting where the media is being used. We should spend as much time in the decision-making process of choosing colors as we do creating the theme, writing the text, choosing the typeface, or any other design element.

While I am in this frame of mind, for those of you that enjoy the color combination of pink and green, you are next on my list.