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Can Motorola show its true colors with Pantone?

Motorola and Pantone are two very big names in their respective fields; the former produces the best-selling and highly regarded smartphones, while the latter is the leading source of color knowledge.

The partnership between the two will see Motorola turn to Pantone for color advice in their products, and this was first evident with the launch of the Motorola Edge 30 Neo; this phone is available in four Pantone colors (Ice Palace, Aqua Foam, Black Onyx and Very Peri are Pantone colors). Color of the year for 2022), and each is physically displayed as a branded image on the back of the device.

While we may be used to seeing some brand partnerships with smartphone makers, especially around cameras, such as Hasselblad with Oppo or Huawei with Leica, such a color partnership seems unique and unprecedented.

So how did it happen?

Rubén Castano articulates this as part of a desire to “quantify the elements that go into product design. When researching design elements such as size, weight and hand feel, research is always the most important.” In this way, this partnership helps Motorola “search for reliable data about color and how it becomes a universal language of expression. Pantone is uniquely positioned to do this with its extensive network of trendsetters and researchers who understand how color works for consumers.”

Ellie Cheng adds that this collaboration is part of the shared vision of the two brands. Whereas “Pantone has been in the color business for decades… there are different experiences in different media.” Motorola, being “innovative and technologically advanced, can incorporate this color element into its design in a way that demonstrates the power of color.” She suggests that such a collaboration “requires innovative thinking, which Motorola obviously has. They also make products that help the user express themselves.”

Why is now the right time to introduce this new initiative?

Ruben argues that the time has come precisely because of the position that smartphones now occupy in our daily lives; “It’s a conventional device, but also a very personal device – the phone is a personal extension of ourselves, a statement of self-expression. Personalization occurs in many ways, and self-expression can be found both digitally and simply in the physical world. That’s why we take it seriously to connect with our customers.”

Ellie adds: “Color has long been taken for granted, and it’s only recently that we’ve been talking about colors accurately on screens when we want to experience everything on screen with more immersiveness.” She says that this perception of color must be maintained “when you enter the physical world.”

Ellie Cheng, Vice President and General Manager of Pantone

Reuben and Ellie regularly return to the topic of self-expression; this is obviously a key part of Motorola’s brand strategy going forward – to the point that Reuben said it’s “not about trying to sell more phones, but about both brands building on their story.”

But how does this connection work in practice; Were there any difficulties along the way and, in particular, when creating the new devices themselves, which depend not only on their appearance, but also on their physical dimensions and characteristics?

Reuben, speaking of Motorola’s experience, notes that “Pantone has dedicated a team to this project that includes trends and color research experts who also bring their past experience from the fashion world.” He notes that it took “empathy and closeness to reach the same level as their design team”.

“Pantone focuses on color,” Ellie says, “but we also believe that other senses help you see and perceive color. If you only see color in one particular case, then you don’t see the full picture. We want you to get the full feeling of emotions from color.”

The two brands seem to have learned a lot from each other during this process. Reuben says that “Pantone has come to the table and brought a huge amount of information about consumer trends, social trends, and he translates those trends into themes and color stories.”

Ellie, speaking about Pantone’s new experience in the world of technology, emphasizes: “It’s great to see how different audiences and consumers react to different interactions with colors. Personalities are different, experiences are different, and the phone can be very intimate; this applies to everything from fashion to a piece of furniture. Consumers are reacting to this very strongly and very dynamically.”

There is one particular design element that is, of course, a strong reminder of the collaboration, and that is the color swatch on the back of the Edge 30 Neo. Smiling, Ellie says the decision just “felt right and was fun for both parties,” while Reuben agrees, adding that “this iconic element was an elegant way to sign a product – it’s a signature collaboration.”

Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience, Motorola

That said, there seems to be one potential problem with this focus on color – will consumers just put a case on their phones while covering the back?

Reuben actually gives me a surprising answer: “Motorola has done a lot of research that shows that customers really want to protect their purchase, but before buying, color is very important – more than 80% of buying decisions depend on color. Consumers want it to be perceived as a personal choice.”

During our conversation, both interlocutors were keen to emphasize both the depth of this partnership and the fact that they want it to be long-term. So what’s in store for us in the future?

While the Neo is “a launch vehicle and the beginning of a story,” Reuben reports that “Motorola’s entire portfolio is collaborative,” so we can expect a lot more input from the brand – and it’s not limited to the colors on the back of the devices. He also aims to state that Motorola’s user interface is “the purest Android experience available, giving consumers the ability to personalize the device to their liking through colors, highlights, themes, and more.”

The future of this partnership represents an interesting prospect for Motorola.

He states again that this is “just the beginning”, so perhaps we can hope for more Pantone integration in this space in the future; however, when Reuben demands any specific examples of future products, he politely reminds me that he cannot comment on future devices.

The future is indeed an interesting prospect for Motorola as the brand seeks a new direction to capture a different, more expressive audience; this partnership is only one factor in this process. In an earlier conversation with François LaFlamme, director of global marketing and strategy at Motorola, I noticed how many times he used the word “provocative” when discussing this shift in emphasis, so I passed the word on to Ellie and Ruben to get their opinion.

In the context of the partnership with Pantone, Ellie interprets it as a way to bring up topics for discussion: “It’s not about us creating something out of nowhere, but about how we perceive what is happening in the world. Color is a visual adjective that makes you ask, “How does this make me feel?” For example, at the presentation, she noted that the color of Aqua Foam has a calming effect on her, which can help relieve stress from messages or reminders that may appear on her phone. Reuben agrees with this view, not seeking to address issues that are “foreign to the market”, but wanting the new colors to “ignite a conversation with consumers”.

From what I’ve spent with Reuben and Ellie, it’s clear that there has been a lot of focus and thought on how these two brands can interact both with each other and with the consumer. The emphasis on color as a key aspect of the phone’s design is interesting and seemingly new, and could very well be a key differentiator from the rest of the market.

In the limited time I spent with the Motorola Edge 30 Neo, I was certainly blown away by its bright and bold Very Peri color, but it’s important to note that the attention to design goes beyond that; it’s very thin and light to hold in your hand, there’s a handy notification light around the camera module, and the software is really refreshingly simple.

Of course, a smartphone is much more than just its color or design, but these elements undoubtedly have a big impact on how the consumer perceives the device. While it’s only in the early days of this partnership that Motorola and Pantone seem confident they can build on the intrinsic connection between color and emotion to change the way we think about our smartphones, I’m looking forward to the next steps in that direction. travel.

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