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Nick Campbell is the founder of an iPhone App company called BananaCameraCo, he runs a motion design education site called Greyscalegorilla, talks about the business of creativity on Nickvegas.tv, and speaks to students and creatives about how to be creative and get paid to do what you love. ...And all this came about AFTER he already had his "dream job" as an animator and a photographer making title sequences and TV commercials.
His business(es), all started as complementing side projects to his work as a motion designer under the the simple ideas to "help creatives and creators make cool sh$@" and “as I learn it, so do you.” From this he has developed a number of products and mobile apps all stemming from his core focuses. Everything from fun apps like ShakeItPhoto and CrossProcess that reach a general audience, to Photoshop for Photographers and Vintage Films for Looks reaching amateur and professional photographers, to even more technical industry focused products like HDRI Light Kit Pro and HDRI Studio made specific for the program Cinema 4D used by motion designers.
I had a chance to ask Nick a few questions about how, out of his client and agency work, he developed his own products, started spreading the know-how through blogs and podcasts, and created an effective business model out of it all.
1) You'll never regret working for yourself but you might hate yourself if you never try.
2) Put yourself and your knowledge out there (blogging, podcasts, educating), if people trust you they'll trust your products.
3) Use those interactions to help fuel new ideas and product development
4) Start by branching out from what you're already doing. A successful idea is one that is already working for you.
5) Offering education and functional products not only expands your business it expands the business community, indirectly creating more opportunities for everyone.
Interview With Nick Campbell
A quick rundown of the progression of your work, please.
I graduated from Illinois Institute or Arts in 2005 with one of those degrees that don't mean anything. "Digital Media" or something like that, I didn't take enough design classes. I worked around town a bit and ended up at my dream job at Digital Kitchen animating title sequences and awesome TV commercials with some of the most talented people in the city (world?). I was clearly the worst designer there, but luckily they were willing to take me under their wing and teach me how to be awesome like them.
Meanwhile, in "internet land", I started a photoblog called Greyscalegorilla where I posted a photo per day for about three years. I also started posting Photoshop tutorials to the site for people asking me how I processed my photos. Of course, word got around that I also knew After Effects and Cinema 4D, so I posted tutorials of that, too. Well, it seemed as if there were PLENTY of Photoshop and After Effects tutorials floating around the web, but when it came to Cinema 4D, I was one of only a few. Especially when it came to showing how to use 3D for Motion Graphics and Logo Design instead of flying spaceships and crap like that. The site took off like crazy.
During all this, I also started dabbling in making iPhone apps. At the time, the iPhone app store was new and I wanted in. I made a Polaroid simulator called ShakeItPhoto and it was starting to do pretty well, that was really exciting.
I had a blog that people liked, an iPhone App people liked and a full time job that I liked. Lucky me! But, there was a problem. I didn't have enough time. I decided to leave the full time job and focus full time on the blog and the iPhone apps. It was hard decision, but I had to try it or I would hate myself later.
It seemed as if there were PLENTY of Photoshop and After Effects tutorials floating around the web, but when it came to Cinema 4D, I was one of only a few. Especially when it came to showing how to use 3D for Motion Graphics and Logo Design instead of flying spaceships and crap like that. The site took off like crazy.
What percentage of your work is for clients and what percentage is for personal business and other non-business or more artistic projects?
After I left Digital Kitchen, I have had no clients. All my income has been from my own projects and products. Sometimes I do work for my friends if they need a quick logo animation or something like that. But it's never for money. Always for favors or beer. It's quite liberating actually. I didn't get into this stuff for clients, I got into it to make cool stuff.
Educating others has become a big part of your business model, and you're not just educating people about your own products but offering useful tutorials, open forums with feedback to others learning, etc... Has this helped your business grow? Does this interaction help you come up with new ideas for teaching topics and new product development?
The speaking and educating part has been an exciting part of this year. I get to talk to students and try to help them though this crazy design stuff. There are so many things that I wish people would have told me when I got started in all this. Now, I get to be that guy. It's weird, but fun. As far as being good for business. I think there is an aspect of that. People get to know me though the live show, podcast and speaking gigs. They trust me or at least like what I am saying. Then, when I have something to sell that people think is useful, like an iPhone app or a plugin, they trust me that it's not a peice of crap. Really though, the education thing is fun enough to do separately from selling a bunch of stuff.
People get to know me though the live show, podcast and speaking gigs. They trust me or at least like what I am saying. Then, when I have something to sell that people think is useful, like an iPhone app or a plugin, they trust me that it's not a peice of crap.
With some of your products in mind... Why can slight color variations make such a huge difference visually and emotively?
Color is hugely important in the work I do. When using most software, lights and colors usually default to 100% black or white and most people tend to leave things there. Even in Photoshop, the defaults are 100% black and 100% white. When people make things "Black" or "White" they tend to use these defaults. It almost always makes for a boring and unrealistic design. One thing I talk a lot about is the idea that nothing in real life is 100% black or white. You should always add color and variation to everything you design. Adding slight variations in blacks and whites go a long way to making things more realistic and interesting. This took me a long time to figure out, but it's one of those things that makes a huge difference.
What's coming next for you?
What's next? I hope to continue posting fun or interesting stuff to my blog and to continue making more Photo based iPhone apps. I am also playing around with the idea of brining some of my iPhone Apps to the new Apple App store for use on desktops and laptops. Our CrossProcess app will probably be first out. It will allow you to take any of your digital photos and turn them into photos that look like they were shot on film and processed in the wrong chemicals. It gives them a really cool color and adds a TON of contrast. I'm really excited about that one.
Normal Colors Are For Babies
Pulled from the tag for his product, CrossProcess, the phrase "Normal Colors are For Babies" sums up quite well Nick's career path, i'd say. While many could never think of leaving a dream job, Nick choose to, and ended up supporting himself and a greater community of creatives in process.
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Etsy.com allows people to sell in many different ways. An excellent business model is selling your creations as PDF Patterns instead of the actual item itself. It requires almost no overhead so to speak since you are selling a digital file for the end-buyer to print themselves. It allows you, the seller, more creative time by simply selling the method rather than trying to keep up with demanding orders.
Featured Etsy seller, English artist Sarah Hanson of Dolls & Daydreams, does just that. She does it very well in fact by showcasing a few different finished products as eye-candy for each pattern. Versions of these creations shown in the store are merely examples of how cute these plushes can look, but the fabric choices are up to you, so you can make these projects look any way you want. Each purchase comes packed with a PDF pattern and instructions on how to create it. Sarah also provides some extra bonus links and advice for sewing dolls, along with your purchase.
Opening More Doors for Cashflow
Sarah's business model not only sell's cute doll patterns, but also provides a way to dress these dolls up with upselling. A very smart move and works beautifully for her shop. As soon as you see these guys in their outfits you can't help but want to also accessorize!
Sell the Idea - Make it Tactfully Visual
These doll's aren't anything small either at 18.5" tall! Sarah does an excellent job showcasing her product. She doesn't just provide a single image of one doll, with a note that it's a pattern. She showcases a great picture of the main product - the Owls three in a row, sitting and standing. Then an up sell image of the owl's dressed in clothing - sold separately - and finally a representation of size by having a child in the picture holding one. I couldn't wrap my head around what this 18.5 inch doll might actually represented until I saw the image of the child.
Recapping this selling structure:
- Include nice, clear, un-grainy pictures. Sarah does a simple white background (a piece of posterboard can work). Colorful items are best shown on a simple background.
-Include a variety of inspirational looks. Sarah does this with many different fabric variations of the Owls.
-Include visuals to how big the item is: a quilt - show it on a bed, a doll - show it in your hands or a child's (try to represent it in real life, not against a ruler), an outfit - show it on a real body, etc.
-Finally, if there is a way to accessorize your item show it, but make sure to note that the PDF does not come with such and such items, but you can [link] get them here.
Etsy sellers create many types of products, not only in the sewing or PDF world. A couple of different scenario's to add upselling to your product pages would be:
Jewelry - Selling a necklace? Show an image with a ring and earrings that match....note links to those products...run a special to buy all three, etc.
Sewing Patterns or Clothing and Accessories - we've covered a lot about the patterns as the main topic in this post, but putting doll's aside, things like clothing could include accessories such as a purse, belt or other clothing accessory that might go.
Lastly, don't be afraid to start networking with other sellers to create a cross-combo upsell. Wow, does that sound complicated? It's easy, if you make dresses and skirts and have no interest in making purses, connect with a fellow seller and work out an agreement. If you only make necklaces, connect with someone doing more:
-Simple Exposure Trade - each of you post a product and link in another product page for upselling to the other user.
-Commission - Instruct buyers to mention a code in the special instructions field at checkout for the item on the other sellers product to get some sort of benefit (%/$ off next order, etc). Basically create a way to track that they bought from both of you.
Overall, the PDF to Print business model is an excellent way to keep loving your craft, broaden your market and have more time ultimately for creating new products for your line. A would almost guarantee that selling a pattern over the actual dolls will gross ten times more. Opening your pattern license up to allow others to sell the finished products provides even more of a draw.
As an Etsy buyer and crafter myself, I would much rather spend $10 on a pattern than spend $25+ on a single doll. Remember, Etsy is a creative community. Most of the users who sell on Etsy most likely buy on Etsy - and those people like to create.
One look at the patterns in the Dolls & Daydreams store, and you can easily imagine yourself spending a long and lazy Sunday with your sewing kit out, creating these precious little plushes.
Handmade plushes always give me a rush of delight. As a person who loves craft and collectibles, there's something about owning an item that has been created by hand that feels better than purchasing a mass manufactured item. It's a similar feeling to receive a gift that's been made by hand.
All images copyright Sarah Hanson of Dolls & Daydreams.
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This post was written in collaboration with both Colette Bennette & Molly Bermea
With little space and few words available, symbols, and especially color, need to to be smart when it comes to creating logo identities to communicate your brand. Its nice to check in from time to time to see how designers are using color to make a big impression. Here is a selection of recent designs from logospire.
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There are plenty of companies out there providing a way for you to get a cool case for all your devices be it the iPhone, iTouch, Blackberry and so on. IMakeMyCase, a side job of case-mate.com, is no exception in that they are also a provider of cool cases, yet their concept is wildly unique - they collaborate with world-class artists and musicians to produce some pretty rock'n designs.
Not only does IMakeMyCase provide case designs from top artists in both the music and art industries, but they provide a unique experience where you can use design pieces of a particular artist's collection of style to be the designer yourself.
How it works:
I decide to go with the work of Chuck Anderson of NoPattern.com.
After I pick the artist I want to go with, the animation zooms me down to Chuck Anderson's Design Studio where you can either make a custom design based on Chuck's artwork and inspirational style or I can simply buy a pre-made Chuck Anderson case (pre-designed by Chuck - "what would chuck do?").
- 1) Start with a Background
- 2) Add design Elements
- 3) Mess around with design elements like mirroring them, changing colors or totally warping the design elements with the kaleidoscope tool.
When you first start designing you might feel limited with some of the artwork and tools, but actually the secret lies in laying a few things out and then completely mauling it with the Mirror, Colors and Kaleidoscope tools - many times over.
Floris Voorveld of FlorisDesign, is one of my new favorite artists in the freelance designers world. I originally discovered his work on logopond.com and became fascinated with his take on practicing creativity. Floris grew up in the Netherlands but currently resides in Spain. He creates some really nice, minimal designs.
Don't hate Design Contests, use them to your advantage...
Something that Floris does stood out to me. Being a designer myself over the past ten years, I have witnessed the flood of design contests online. This is a subject of strong opinion going both ways. Some designers feel that it can take value away from the proper design process and hard work, it cheapens the industry, etc. I think more and more designers are learning to see some value to the fact that the contests exist and are not going away any time in this millennium.
Floris has a great view about these contests on this blog post, Logo Contests. Part of what I want to re-state is third party by way of Floris stating from another source, but I like his thoughts on the topic.
"if you pay peanuts you get monkeys"
...although most of the time that is true, it's not always like that. The problem is that people who pay peanuts don't know squat about monkeys. They wouldn't know a good logo if it would hit them in the face, that's the problem. - thoughts from Floris on Logo Contests
Ultimately, view design contests as a means to slim out the clients who really have no idea what good design will cost, what a good design is or how to handle the creative process of design. So really, the contests are doing you, the designer, a favor.
Clients From Hell, the perfect follow-up book to our more recent giveaway the Smashing Book #2. For any of you in the design industry be it graphic, print or web - you will truly appreciate the contents of this book with tears of laughter. I do hope they make a desk calendar next, it would make an excellent stocking suffer!
Having worked in the design industry, encompassing all of the above, both in the office and freelancing, I can truly find a place in my heart and a special spot on my desk for this book. I can't put it down actually. It brings back those memories at the office where my boss's most frequent design direction was, "Just make it fabulous!" the sad thing is, I learned how to design around that comment. I learned to put more gold, more frill and use fancy nonsense words in our designs for a cruddy product I didn't truly believe in - at least with the way the company was directing it.
At this point in my career, my brother and I were the website and design team - he was the programmer/coder/tech support guy (as do all small companies swamp their "computer guy") and I was the font-end designer of web, print and graphics. We shared an office and could probably write our own hilarious novel re-capping the many ridiculous meetings we came out of from that place. Yes, we even got the,"I want you guys to create a MySpace, Facebook combination, BUT for sports! This is going to be such a big hit! Google will want to buy it from us!" I believe this is about the time (2006-2007ish) when Google and Yahoo were buying out popular web apps and people were going crazy trying to develop the next big thing... I'm sure my bosses were not the only ones thinking they would have the next big thing.
"We’re going to leave Zuckerberg in the dust and think about how much he makes every year. Are you in or out?" - clientsfromhell.net
So I'm on a tangent with my story, but this book brings back the reality of those days - chocolate covered in laughter and makes me question how I kept my sanity working for those guys. Some of you may have similar memories of the things your bosses or clients may have said. Some of you are probably living it daily or still get those types of clients if you're a freelancer. It's never-ending.
"Isn’t it as simple as putting in a button to select different languages? Just look at Facebook." - clientsfromhell.net
CONTEST: Design a Pattern From Hell
Did I mention that I have THREE (3) books to do with what I please? Yep! I begged for 3 extra copies (not like I'm giving up mine!) to do a contest with. So without further adieu...
To honor all those design veterans and those of you still being tortured by clients and bosses similar to the ones from this book, we are going to do a fun contest! The rules are simple:
1. Design a NEW PATTERN using the COLOURlovers Seamless Pattern Maker (you must be the creator of the pattern).
2. Color it using the Clients From Hell color palette (consisting of red, black and white ONLY).
3. Submit your entry by copy/pasting your pattern badge in to the comments - code is located on the right side under SHARE THIS PALETTE when you are viewing your pattern (or palette or color swatch). It is REALLY important that you follow this step, as you need votes (aka LOVES) to win and I need to be able to link to your contest entry pattern.
4. Include your own client from hell experience and/or find a favorite from clientsfromhell.net (make sure if you use one from CFH.net that you let us know by linking or mention please).
And the winner...needs to get the most LOVES!
A winner will be picked with the most LOVES on their pattern. So make a really super cool pattern, make all of your friends and family cookies (if you need bribery) and tweet, facebook or whatever you need to about your pattern. Get some love!! Hey you could even paste it on your fellow lovers profiles to ask for loves... just saying.
The contest will run 7 days - Tuesday to Tuesday. That would be Today, Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 - midnight Tuesday, March 29th, 2011. Results should be posted no later than Wednesday, March 30th. You must be a user to play (so SIGN UP if you need to), make sure your email notifications are on as I will need to contact you to collect your address to send you your book. Feel free to send me a love note if you have any specific questions on using the Seamless Pattern maker, etc.
update: Let me clarify.... you don't literally have to make this a pattern FROM Hell. :) Just make a super cool pattern limited to the color palette.
If you must have this book now, you can also order it on Amazon.com here (available in both print and on the kindle)...annnnd if having the book just isn't enough, there are a few other funnies you can get from the CHF store here.
And just because I can't get enough of these...
"I’m not trying to be cheap, I just don’t have that much money." - clientsfromhell.net
“I want the visitors to have a fresh experience each time they visit. So, I want you to design atleast 25 different websites so that every time they visit they will get a new experience.” - clientsfromhell.net
“In the interests of working together, I would appreciate it if you could do this free of charge.” - clientsfromhell.net
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The way that Apple has built it's product line off extreme minimalism both in color and design has always been intriguing to look back on. It becomes such a huge deal when they decide to add any sort of color to a particular product design. So this morning when I woke up and started slimming down my inbox, I couldn't help but click on the iPad 2 Release simply for the main showcase image...
Don't go anywhere!!! There's a super fantastic book giveaway after our feature presentation!
Just holding this book makes me go, "ahhh..."
Everyone is raving about the quality of book #2 compared to book #1 (or published media in general). I don't blame them. I almost didn't mention it, because everyone else has, but that was ALSO my initial thought upon receiving my copy of the book. Straight from the box, I instinctively noticed these things in this order:
First, I noticed that I can plop it in my purse, no problem (and I don't carry an overly-large purse!). It's not too heavy or too many square/cubic inches. That's important, because I dread getting a great book, but eyeballing how thick it is sometimes hurts as I rarely have time for reading real books. My arms aren't going to fall off trying to hold it up while I'm laying in bed reading it.
Second, most definitely the quality. Smashing Magazine did not skimp on getting this little ditty published. Quality, stitch-bound, hard cover and hefty pages that produce sharp graphics. It's a nice tight number that you'll probably keep on your desk or prop on a shelf just because it's so pretty.
Third, artwork and graphics, amazing! They seriously couldn't go wrong with using Yiying Lu (yes, forever known as the creator of the famous Fail Whale from Twitter.com). But seriously, who can resist that kind of work, I know my three year old can't! What three year old do you know peruses a web and graphic design book with focus and interest? I will admit mine has a great attention span, but still... I'm caught flipping through the pages simply studying the chapter artwork. I have to laugh at myself.
Fourth and last, the cutest little ribbon bookmark comes attached. What a nice little touch! I bet this is the most talked about ribbon bookmark in the history of books. I suppose I will not be lazily dog-earing my new book.
So hands down on the book construction and makeup. Smashing you get a full applause in that area (I think everyone else would agree, no?)!
My thoughts from reading & perusing...
- #1 The Principles of Great Graphic Deisign
- #2 Visible vs. Invisible Design
- #3 Designing Mobile User Experiences
- #4 Sketching, Wireframing and Prototyping
- #5 Red Flags (Warning Signs) in Web Development
- #6 The Future of Web Typeography
- #7 Applying Game Design Principles to User Experience Design
- #8 When they Click: Psychology of Web Design and User Behavior
- #9 Design Patterns in e-Commerce Websites (Study)
- #10 How to Make a Book (Like this One)
I realize that you can make something look pretty dang great, but fill it with garbage. Not in this case. I might be a bit bias because I am a HUGE fan of Smashing Magazine and the fantastic information they continue to provide to the design and web communities.... I will note, however, that the previous Smashing Book #1 seemed somewhat of a letdown to a "few" folks, which has become more prevailiant with Book #2 being such a positive hit and maybe with more of a comeback in the comparisons being made.
My primary area is Design. Both in print and web. And I will openly admit, I'm not ever going to be in the one of the top designers of the world because of this and that - so a book like this is absolutely PERFECT for me. I think anyone who wants a nice review, more insight
What I enjoyed in the first chapter was the correlation between the two, how different and yet similar they are.
"It stands to reason, then, that the process of design involves making deliberate and appropriate graphical choices in order to best communicate the intended message. This applies as much to designing for the Web as it does to designing for print." - excerpt, page 15
What I most enjoyed about this chapter was it's focus on using design effectively and timelessly. When I was reading through the pages of Timeless Thinking - which included talk about simplicity, adding too much gaudy junk (aka ornaments), minimalism, contrast, space and tension... it really brought me back to the basics in art school and working with drawing techniques. Sometimes I feel that I start a project over-designing and after I get that part about needing to impress the client out of my system and go minimal, it never fails to be the winning pick - this chapter was a kick in the pants refresher.
Then I read on to variations of Type and its effectiveness as well as the role it plays. Overall, a golden chapter to set your path a little straighter or teach you a few things.
"While a good graphic designer works to create an attractive design for the client, a great graphic designer pushes further, striving to understand the crux of the project's objective. The great designer builds on the various concepts ..." - excerpt, page 44
My other favorite, is chapter 7: Applying Game Design Principles to User Experience Design. What I most enjoyed was the play off of understanding the correlation between the two to make an easier way to think about UX Design. My favorite part starting with the section, The Name of the Game which goes through each of the five key attributes of the "game" of online interaction. It became a fun way to think about UX Design.
In conclusion, I like that the end of each chapter will sum up with a number of useful resources, about the author, some history from that section and even a nice extra Reading List for more in-depth study on a subject if interested - actually, I would have liked more reading resources at the ends of more chapters. I thought that was very helpful and resourceful to place in one area, instead of having to dig back through my dog-eared and highlighted pages and notes to locate a good resource I just know I marked.
I do find that this book is something I will be keeping on my desk for some time to reference and re-reference when my mind is fogged or fighting to go a direction my gut knows I shouldn't.
Are you tired of hearing me blab blab blab about the book? Are you just dying to get your hands on your own copy? Well here's your chance, we have 3 copies in our giveaway!
Contest Rules are simple. This will be a random drawing of three lucky commenters who provide the following information in their comment:
Please provide what your specialty is be it Design Warlord, Freelance Web Designer or Couch Potato... but seriously, I would like to know what you do for money or fun in the relationship to wanting the book in your grubby little paws.
The contest will run from March 10th, 2011 through March 18th, 2011 - Winners will be announced the following week, Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011. Winners will also be emailed via Love Notes on COLOURlovers.com so make sure you turn your notifications ON for both in-site and email so that I can collect your address and get your prize out ASAP. Contest is for COLOURlovers.com users only, so if you aren't a member, get signed up and get commenting!
update: Did I forget to mention you can of course buy the book here (at SmashingMagazine.com) as well as preview a sample from the book and get other details. Pop on over and check it out!
But wait there's MORE! Apparently there was just too much good stuff to go to print, so Smashing Magazine is GIVING you a FREE eBOOK called The Lost Files (free eBook).
*********SUBMISSION TO THE CONTEST IS CLOSED*********
Results will be posted Tuesday, March 22nd (unless they magically appear on Monday the 21st. ;) Have a great weekend everyone!
Corporate Interiors. The name lends itself to a labyrinth of workstations, bland color palettes and an environment that you can’t wait to get out of as soon as the clock strikes that magical hour. You get to breathe fresh air and spend some of that hard earned cash on drinks with colleagues discussing how much you loathe working in that god-for-saken office. But, did you ever consider that it could possibly be the design of the office that you loathe more than your job?!
I myself being from a corporate interior design background am all too familiar with just how miserable some office interiors can be with their muddy color palettes of maroon, beige, “healthcare blue” and hunter green. Luckily for me, my job was to make it better.
That is one reason that I enjoyed corporate interiors- to see how people reacted in a space before renovation/relocation and after. It’s amazing to see how much color, spacial layout, graphics, way-finding and for god’s sake "views to the outdoors" can completely change people’s demeanor, work ethic and even attendance to work.
I recently had the pleasure of walking into the small, but dynamic corporate office of Ditherm- a refractory engineering firm located in Prague, Czech Republic. The space was designed by Czech architect Luboš Sekal (of A.A.L.S ateliér Architektonický) and makes use of color and graphic pattern in a unique and refreshing way. It didn’t blatantly say “corporate office” with the palette of tonal grays and a pop of orange. As opposed to the typical private office set up with a solitary colored accent wall, desk and two guest chairs- Sekal chose to create a painted graphic pattern accent wall and a posh "in office" meeting area equipped with designer furnishings and a unique light fixture. The painted wall graphic is featured on most accent walls throughout the space, but I also really enjoyed how the workstations and storage units became features in the back office area with their intersecting planes of color, and also the sliver of orange glass accent in the bathroom doors with the cute gender graphic.
Inc. Magazine's "Break Out Companies of 2010" provided the perfect look back at some of the color trends in business last year. Here we break down each company's logo and web design into palettes that capture their overall color identity. Overwhelmingly, the colors these companies use are Red, Blue or a combination of Blue & Green.
Many more factors than simply color drive the success of these companies, but in the digital age when customers interact with company's products, services and websites daily, multiple times a day, and in some cases, constantly, color & design make up both the first impression and the lasting test of usability and environment (feel).
The true test for these companies will be in the coming years as competitors enter the market and technology evolves. Will these blues, greens and reds hold their place or will companies have to evolve their identities and change their color scheme to fit with the changing times. Will future companies follow their lead and the lead of The Most Powerful Colors in the World or will they try to set themselves apart with surprising and unexpected color schemes to match the novel and exciting products and services that they are bound to create.