Your average paint company knows that their most important advertising is done inside the paint retail location. A brand's paint color display (or color wheel) is its best tool to attract you to their paint. How can a paint company use its own color wheel to lure you to their brand? The answer is easy... color. For centuries, advertisers have used bright, bold colors to focus the attention of customers on their brand. The power of bright colors is evident in signs, logos, and almost every form of commercial marketing. This fact is common knowledge, and yet it still comes as a surprise to many people that paint companies use these same tactics to draw your attention to their line of paint colors inside every home improvement store.
Using the Sample Card to Sell the Color Wheel
Of course, paint companies are a little sneakier than traditional marketers. Paint brands know that when you are faced with an array of paint displays (such as in your local hardware/home improvement store), you are most likely to focus your attention on the color wheel display that most attracts your eye. Since the marketers of paint brands understand the human (or perhaps, "animal") attraction to bright colors, they know how important it is to include bright, bold colors in their paint lines and place them front and center in their displays. This is the best way to attract your attention to a paint company's color wheel.
So how does a paint company accomplish this color hypnosis of potential customers? Well, it starts with the sample card. Have you ever noticed how the brightest, most saturated color sample cards are always the first row you see in a paint display? Well you guessed it... paint companies are playing with a loaded deck (of sample cards, that is)!
But a Bogus Sample Card Equals Bogus Paint Colors
Of course, there's nothing wrong with stacking sample cards in the color wheel display so that the most attractive colors are the most visible. The problem occurs because so many of those bold, dramatic, "attractive" colors are basically useless as paint colors in your home!
It's funny, but many of the colors that a paint company puts in its line would never look good painted on any wall. The colors are 100% used to grab your attention when you are perusing paint displays. People are helplessly attracted to bright colors; they are much more eye-catching and far more interesting to our brains.
Sadly, not only are people more attracted to the paint color wheels because of these colors, but beginners are more likely to find one of these bright, saturated colors most attractive and end up choosing one as their new paint color. Unfortunately, for most of the reasons discussed above, those colors look ridiculous painted on walls.
To be fair, when brighter colors are painted on smaller surfaces, such as in an accent color, on trim, on a partial wall, etc, they are far less offensive than when they cover a room. But the brightest colors in the display - with the least amount of white, black, or gray mixed in - will rarely even work in these applications.
Obviously, when mistakes like this occur paint companies have nothing to lose. Whenever people pick paint colors that they are unhappy with, the paint company does not have to refund the customers' money. In fact, no paint brand in the country will allow you to return paint once you have purchased it. Even better (for the paint company), since the customer is unhappy with the paint color they chose, they are probably just going to buy a whole new batch of paints!
Designer Paint Color Wheels
Of course, there are a multitude of distorting factors making it difficult to pick paint colors that will end up looking attractive on your wall. So, rather than filling the world with disgruntled customers, paint companies have offered the marketplace a basic solution to their problem of conflicting interests. That solution is the designer, or "signature" brands that most paint companies now offer to accompany their primary brand.
Valspar Paint, for instance, also produces paint branded as Laura Ashley, Eddie Bauer, Waverly, and more. These separate lines, or collections, have their own color wheel displays and are usually available wherever the primary brand, Valspar in this case, are sold. Other examples are Disney Paints, currently produced by Behr, and Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, formerly produced by Sherwin Williams.
By licensing these names, paint companies and retailers are taking advantage of the popularity of these well-known brands to attract you to these paints; that way they don't have to use obnoxious colors to bring your attention to their color wheel. If you look at the colors in these displays you will notice that they are generally missing those bright, saturated tones. Instead, most of the colors are more neutralized. Naturally, these colors are much more attractive to paint on a wall in your home.
Paying for a Brand Name Paint Color?
If you are worried about ending up with an ugly paint color, you may be somewhat safer utilizing one of these designer collections. However, the color range offered by any one of these alternative brands is very limited and typically the whole line of hues is all neutralized to about the same tone. This gives the smaller brand a nice consistent look, but it doesn't allow for much variety. Also, these signature paints are typically more expensive (often 50% more) despite the fact that you can get very similar colors from the primary "mother" brand for considerably less money.