Companies like Samsung, Huawei and Oppo keep making flashy phones for a reason.
The Galaxy S10 in Canary Yellow and Flamingo Pink. The foldable in Martian Green. OnePlus 6T in Thunder Purple. The list goes on. Every sales figure and expert tells us that people buy phones for their camera, battery and screen. But any product designer or marketer will tell you that color and finish matter, too.
Just think. If color were inconsequential, why bother coming up with fancy names like Jet Black, Phantom Blue and Prism White, rather than simply black, blue and white? Why even have white at all?
“Color has always been a very important visual element,” said Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School. “It’s something people notice right away.”
Shelf appeal is important when selling any product. It’s what gets a thing noticed. But a colorful phone can be personal and meaningful as well.
“Color gives us joy in our lives,” said Isabelle Olsson, who helped lead the team that designed the Pixel 3 in Not-Pink. I hear echoes of Marie Kondo’s treatise on sparking joy. “We’re craving something new,” she added, not just “black, glossy boxes.”
Apple is a good example of this philosophy. For years, the most “special” iPhone colors have been white, gold, rose gold and jet black, all fairly neutral tones. Only with the cheaper and iPhone 5C did it let its hair down with bold blue, yellow and coral choices to offset the polished stoicism of the higher-end iPhones. The one exception: the special-edition , born of a partnership with the nonprofit Product RED charity.
Owning a brightly colored phone says something about you, the buyer. “It makes your phone much more unique, and personalizes the phone,” Kahn said. It can also prove to others that you’re riding the latest trend. “That makes a different reason to purchase.”
Dazzling you for the sake of self expression is one thing, but don’t forget the competitive edge. Huawei‘s , Mate 20 Pro and Honor View 20 are bullish about eye-popping gradients and patterns in part to separate the brand from its rivals.
“We had a lot of disadvantage because we’re not a well-known brand to consumers [compared to] our other competition, which is bigger and better recognized in the industry,” said Joonsuh Kim, the chief design officer of Huawei’s consumer business, which includes phones.
He’s referring to Samsung here, the world’s largest smartphone maker. But make no mistake, Huawei is no seedling startup. Last year it to become the planet’s second biggest phone brand, and it plans to . While Samsung admitted to in 2018 ( ), Huawei announced that its shares were rising: 200 million units sold by the end of 2019. Its investment in flashy phones seems to have paid off.
Samsung, for its part, has sold phones in every color of the rainbow, the most recent being a deep blue with a sunny yellow stylus to go with it. It popped.