Once thought of as totally earth bound and utilitarian, the brown family has polished its image. So why the new look for a color that is literally as old as the hills?
First there is a new appreciation of all things organic and natural-two words that can certainly describe brown. With gardening America's #1 hobby (even though the garden may be your indoor plants and potted herbs on the window sill) there is no longer the concept of brown as dirty, but rather brown as dirt-nurturing, fragrant and rich.
The word rich brings to mind yet another dimension to brown-that of flavor. With the rising tide of the modern coffee craze, the veneration of the little beans went beyond a cup of ordinary java to more upscale terminology. More exotic words to describe this new phenomenon slipped into our daily lexicon-espressos and lattes overflowed from the commonplace to the glamorous with prices to match. Brown spilled into a rich, robust and aromatic role, symbolizing a social happening and a gathering place for friends and the potential to make new friends.
The charming film "Chocolat" brought attention to the deliciousness, decadence and enticement of chocolate, now celebrated as an aphrodisiac. And when a sparkling chocolate colored diamond enters the scene, a new brilliance is added to brown. Even UPS, the company that owns brown in the shipping business, is attempting to create a perception of brown as "cool" through ads, TV commercials and a public relations campaign. As part of the PR push comes some brown trivia, namely the Wall Street Journal's use of 2000 pounds of brown ink to print the issue that kicked off the "What Can Brown Do For You" campaign.
Interestingly, the original choice for brown as the corporate image color was first made in the 1920s to mimic the colors of the old Pullman train cars that embodied 'class, elegance and professionalism'. So reinventing the brown image is actually a return to their roots.