back to article Google employs people to invent colours – and they think their work improves your wellbeing

Google has revealed it employs people to invent colours and give them silly names, too. The internet giant today detailed the work of Isabelle Olsson, leader of Google’s “Color, Materials and Finish team.” The missive does make the sensible point that as computers come off the desk and into homes, a splash of colour makes a …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I've started referring to a certain type of gentrified soulless pub as Farrow and Ball, as sadly they're replacing real pubs of character. They can be identified by their signage and interior colour schemes.

    As for the Farrow and Ball paint company, I refer to that as Hippy Paint. You can have any Hippy Paint colour-matched in Dulux like a normal person, and you should do if you don't want to repaint in two year's time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dave 126, with your caustic and clever wit, you must've surely been a lockdown dream date.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        You've obviously never used F&B paint and stayed around to watch it dry and then peel.

        1. goldcd

          I quite like painting with it

          pigment rich and goes on beautifully.

          Still, it is getting a little 'common' now - rows of the stuff at homebase.

          Little Greene is my middle-class paint of choice.

  2. Robert Grant Silver badge

    You can tell how much money Google has

    This level of tripe demands quite the premium.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: You can tell how much money Google has

      CMF (Colour Materials Finish) is standard in many industries - many 'special editions' of cars are merely a different paint colour and interior trim material. It's basically the stuff that can be changed without retooling.

      You'll note that Apple, Sony and Nokia are/were the masters of this. Really though, for Google's home speakers and ear buds I'd start by looking at Nokia's Xpress-on Covers from the 3210 era. I'm also thinking if the iridescent finish on the 6210.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: You can tell how much money Google has

      Inventing Colours?

      I wonder if Google knows how much a set of Pantone Swatches cost? PErhaps they should 'google' it.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: You can tell how much money Google has

        It's about £200, last I checked. It's been on my mind of late, though I found my Samsung Galaxy screen is in close enough agreement with my colleague's MacBook screen and our inkjet printer output that I was confident enough to order some printed marketing materials without recourse to the swatches. I know colour accuracy is important, but just how important depends upon the job. Where the swatches book is very handy is if you wish to specify to a commercial printer some 'spot' colours (eg metallic inks, florescent inks, glossy or matte finishes) that your office inkjet printer can't output.

        If you're making a device case out of one part, then no one will notice if the colour is slightly off what you intended. If you are making a device where you intend two parts of a different material to the be same colour, people may notice any variation, even a slight variation.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: You can tell how much money Google has

          I love that kind of pointless devotion to pointless precision. It only makes any sense if you control every aspect of the customer experience - what lighting they have and the windows lighting and their indoor decor as all of it will have an effect on the way the thing looks to the customer.

          Have you ever tried to read your credit card number under a single 'white' LED bulb? I cant read mine because some designer twat though silver embossed lettering on plastic was a great 'look' even though it renders it completely unreadable in 99% of the times I try and read it. I've had to resort to one of the old carbon copies from my local pub which keeps one for when the internet and phones are down!

          There are reasons electric cables have certain colours and not just the marketing whim of the month.

          1. Wally Dug

            Re: You can tell how much money Google has

            Ooohhh - old carbon copies will deteriorate over time, plus your card number will change, so isn't ideal.

            What you should do is write down your card number somewhere safe. You'll need to remember to add the other things such as expiry date and CVV number. And probably best to include your mother's maiden name and the names of your first school and pet.

            Then, to ensure it's completely safe and secure, put them all in an envelope and send it to me...

      2. joe bixflics

        Re: You can tell how much money Google has

        Very expensive. At least $500.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we brought back the green color, Quite Mint, which is my favorite

    Well, colour me surprised ... :-)

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: we brought back the green color, Quite Mint, which is my favorite

      Green will forever be associated with institutional green walls that are supposedly calming, green and brown office carpet that doesn't show stains, and green beer for St. Patrick's Day. All of these are disgusting.

      York Peppermint Patties are near black and near white. Case closed.

      1. Schultz Silver badge

        Re: we brought back the green color, Quite Mint, which is my favorite

        So they had a whole team spending time and money to find the right color and in the end the boss chose her favorite. Makes you almost miss Steve Jobs. He probably could have picked the 'best color' on the spot. (Any color should work, that's why there is an expensive marketing department.)

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Thankfully beige computers and peripherals, usually yellowed by UV, are largely a thing of the past.

    The original Sony Playstation was specified to have a slightly indigo shade of beige, so that the inevitable UV yellowing wouldn't show as much. The same head designer went on to create the Sony VAIO line of desktops and laptops, which leant evenly more into a indigo tinted grey.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      I think that the colour you associate with tech equipment is a generational thing...from wood-effect, to beige, to black, the brief dalliance with more colourful colours, to silver which seems prominent now.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Tech equipment has two colours - dust and worn down to the metal depending on its usefulness. Unless its an AVO in which case its a dusty dark grey and will be when Dinosaurs MKII drag them from our cold dead hands.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      I started my working career in telephone exchanges, where everything was painted a creamy beige colour called straw, except the really old stuff, which was battleship grey.

  5. Pete 2

    Is that a job?

    > we place it on a shelf. Then every day for a week we walk past it, and we start seeing things we didn’t previously see

    Maybe some joker sneaks in at night and moves things around on the shelf?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is that a job?

      I tend to find a good dose of LSD has the same effect.

      1. You aint sin me, roit

        Re: Is that a job?

        Came for the psychedelic reference, wasn't disappointed.

        Then opened the box marked "organic" to find out what was making the rotting cabbage smell.

        Colour me green.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Is that a job?

          to find out what was making the rotting cabbage smell.

          The Not Quite Mint?

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Is that a job?

        I tend to find a good dose of LSD has the same effect.

        We had this vision of this little dot floating in your ear.

        Yes, definitely psychedelics involved. How do you get a job there?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is that a job?

          Marketing: Headphones so light you don't notice them...

          Designer: We had this vision of this little dot floating in your ear.

          Production Engineer: We'll need to use these ultra small drivers that are $20 each...

          Accountant: You've only got $5.49 for the whole thing

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Is that a job?

            “...if we’re to hit our target retail price of $149.99”

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “We knew we could love a color when we looked at it, but what happens when it goes in the ear?”

    And who among us hasn't thought that very thing?

  7. D@v3


    are all very well, but i think the really important question here people, is can it be fitted nasally?

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: colours

      Yes but, who wants fire that can be nasally fitted?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: colours

        When you get to my age you'd be surprised the lengths you'll go to to control nasal hair. In shielding I've taken to not shaving but I still look like I have a two storey tash.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: colours

          Perfect! My new band will be called 'Two Storey Tache'.

          Opening single, 'Face Fungus'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: colours

            > Opening single, 'Face Fungus'.

            B-side: Pluck Off *

            [*] Banjo duet, in case you were wondering

  8. MJI Silver badge

    The lack of u triggers me

    It makes the words like it difficult to pronounce.

    And people wonder why I am saying it oddly.

    So yank colour is pronouced like "coll or" not "colour".

    And yes I need a big pile of classes and headers to correct all the spelling errors.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: The lack of u triggers me

      I think you mean "difficult to prononce"

    2. Munchausen's proxy

      Re: The lack of u triggers me


    3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: The lack of u triggers me

      Are you pronouncing it the French way? If not, then why do you need a superfluous "u"?

    4. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: The lack of u triggers me

      As a Brit, I once asked an American colleague why they spell words like "colour" and "neighbour" oddly.

      His response was: "We declared independence in 1776 and got rid of U"

  9. macjules Silver badge

    Any colour you like?

    And we all know what colour matches chocolate .. the one that they feed you.

    Icon: because it is the closest to a steaming pile of Google.

  10. joe bixflics

    How about 'Safety Grey'?

    1. bob42


      Isn't it brown for safety?

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Is that Battleship Grey or Military Grey?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there one called "Not Serious" or "Wasting Oxygen"?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      They sound like Culture ship names!

  12. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Not even original

    All Google had to do was go back to the color (or colour) schemes for the 1970 Ford Maverick, where they had:

    Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, Candyapple Red, Black Jade, Champagne Gold, Gulfstream Aqua, Meadowlark Yellow, Brittany Blue, Lime Gold, Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White

    OK, some of those are normal sounding. But I'm sure Google could have quickly found them with a quick search on Bing or DuckDuckGo.

  13. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Is their departmental stationery in Whalesong Blue?

    Or, more likely, Bullshit Beige.

    I'll be the one sneaking Furbies onto their shelf of designs - to either confuse them, or make them jump.

  14. ThatOne Silver badge

    Justifying their salary

    Come on people, they only have three RGB sliders going from 0 to 255, and have to choose one combination of those. Anybody can do this, so obviously they need to justify their choice as being exclusive and well-thought-of: It's not only basic marketing, it's basic survival instinct lest somebody more credible comes along and takes their 3 sliders from them...

    Giving fancy names to things makes them more exclusive and more desirable: "Aged gold" sounds better and definitely more desirable than "metallic beige", people will be willing to spend more money on it. "Bright white" is trivial and boring, while "Eternal snows of the roof of the world" is loaded with dream and suggested significance...

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Justifying their salary

      I've just had a brilliant product idea, which I offer to the world for development because I can't be arsed.

      We need a bluetooth dartboard (maybe one of those plastic ones with the field of holes), or suitable machine vision of an actual dartboard. The face to be done in the typical colour-picker wheel motif, so that after a few pints the designers can pick the colours for pending products quickly, then get back to "real work" (a few more pints).

      Meanwhile, my first memory of computer colours is two shades of grey for the frame, IBM Blue for the panels. Mid 1960s, when less stodgy computer users could also get Yellow, Green, and "Coral".

  15. A-nonCoward

    obligatory XKCD

    "Baige" was just one among hundreds of color names proposals that Randall Munroe received "for free" by setting up a survey a while back. 140,000 responses...

    a text list, a blog entry

    the raw data

  16. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Give me puce, any day.

    A down to earth working mans colour.

    Sounds exactly what it says on the vomit bucket, whether it looks it or not is another matter.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Give me puce, any day.

      Myself, I’m rather partial to Allegro Orange.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Give me puce, any day.

        "Surgical Appliance Pink" and "Baby Crap Brown" are two of my abiding memories of the 70s. Oh, and "Nicotine Yellow" of course.

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Give me puce, any day.

      Nah, what you really want is the Takischitt colour chart!!!

      I actually had one of these on my bedroom wall in my youth!

    3. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Give me puce, any day.

      "I like puce"

      "You would!"

      "What's puce?"

      "It's like fuschia, but a shade less lavender and a bit more pink"

      "Towser, sometimes I wonder about you..."

      Go on, for 100 Internet points, name the film... without googling...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you don't pay the same rate of tax as other businesses you have the cash to waste on garbage

    Or can use untaxed earnings from one market to compete unfairly in others.

  18. Alister Silver badge

    Is Quite Mint the same as the institutional green colour they used to use in hospitals and government buildings?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Invent other colours???

    I think there ALL exist naturally already.

    I think they're "inventing" meaningless nomenclature EG Quite Mint, we call, oh it's on the tip of my tongue, yes, green.

    BTW I think that's the Dulux in the bathroom, hope they sue.

  20. Blackjack Silver badge

    Hey Google!

    Did you know there is literally more colors than the human eyes can see?

  21. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge


    The only colour you'll ever need.

    >doffs hat to the memory of Sir Pterry<

  22. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Look at flowers, some of which evolved to look bright to attract bees."

    Does this mean Google intend to extend their colour range into the UV?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Of course not, they're trying to avoid bugs.

  23. Woza

    Google's corporate colour name

    "Eternal Beta"?

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Google's corporate colour name

      That's Windows 10 you're thinking about there.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technicolor yawn

    The absence of the "u" in "color" is making me ill.

    "Pizza forrest" perhaps...

    * Technicolor is a trade name.

  25. skeptical i

    Who names these things?

    A friend was starting a room painting project, had the swatch book from the paint seller. "Bermuda Bay", "Blushing Violet", "Arctic Glow", and so on. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the poor sod tasked with coming up with names that "sell" (this color looks like day-old dog vomit, um, how about "Dappled Wheat"?); now I guess they get jobs at Google for a bit more than minimum wage, sympathy revoked.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Who names these things?

      felt a twinge of sympathy for the poor sod tasked with coming up with names that "sell"

      Don't bother. These "poor sods" are Marketing.

  26. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    We've all missed Googles long term plan

    to invent the wheel.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020