Behind-the-Scenes of Whirlpool’s Color Development: Q&A with Jessica McConnell
With an impressive and extensive color palette for the KitchenAid® stand mixer, it’s easy to wonder how brands decide on those hues for kitchen appliances. After all, color is such an integral, yet ever-changing element of design.
We sat down with Jessica McConnell, Whirlpool Corporation Senior Manager, Color, Finish & Material Design, to explore the world of color and learn more about Whirlpool’s methodology behind color selection when it comes to its brands and products.
Q: How are colors selected for KitchenAid appliances?
A: When we approach design, we don’t look at it as the color for an exterior appliance. We look at it as if we’re designing an entire kitchen. The products never live out of context — they always live in a kitchen. You don’t just bring it home and stick it on your basement floor — it lives in an environment. It’s not just color for the sake of color — it actually has a function and serves a purpose.
We want to make sure colored appliances are not only beautiful, but designed to easily integrate into a home. Our goal is to make the purchasing decision as easy as possible — we want the customer to fall in love with a product and be excited to bring it home. Consumers should be confident in their purchase and know that they won’t be disappointed because it doesn’t look good or doesn’t meet their expectations.
Q: How do industry trends come into play when it comes to color selection?
A: A lot of consumer trend analysis and social cultural trends analysis goes into color selection. However, we can’t just follow the trends that are already popular, otherwise we’ll be late to the game and will have invested a lot of energy into something that could go out of style very quickly.
As a company we also conduct a lot of research and talk frequently to consumers about their pain points. For instance, consumers were regularly telling us that they love stainless steel, but they don’t like the upkeep associated with it. So, we knew stainless steel wasn’t going out of style anytime soon, but we needed to make it better. And so with that, we developed a stainless steel hue with browns and blacks, and we made it easy to clean, which keeps fingerprints and streaks to a minimum.
We also like to imagine our appliances with every cabinet color we could imagine — from colors that are currently popular to colors that we predict will become popular. People remodel their kitchens but don’t often change their kitchen cabinets — they’ll change their appliances instead, which is an easier and less expensive update. If our appliances could fit in with 85 percent of those cabinets, then we feel like we have something worth putting out there.