Sarah Lorien Photography Sydney

Sorry, no beige.

What? Beige is hip? We may be jumping to worn-out conclusions in our lives and businesses, validated by beliefs that no longer serve us.

two images, advertisement for iMac G3 from 1998 with text 'sorry, no beige' plus image of hands and multiple colour swatches, image by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

It was 1998, Steve Jobs was back at the helm of Apple, strategically shaking up the tech world status quo with the launch of the iMac G3. Yes there were exciting things happening on the inside of the space-age looking machine, which was also partially visible through the translucent exterior, but to me the real revolution was that Apple decreed computers no longer needed to be beige.

If you were around at the time (I was) this will probably hit an a-ha memory. Remember the rows of little-boxes-on-a-hillside beige PCs humming away in every office… how could we possibly forget?

Trends and transformations in visual communication

Dark beige felt hat on wooden table, mixed wildflowers and stone wall - all in neutral tones and medium beige. image by Ellie Ellien on unsplash

It appears beige has been an on-again-off-again trend across design landscapes for years, but for me it never kicked the bor-ing tag.

I still associate beige interiors with cigarette smoke discolouration and DIY landlords who can’t be bothered asking for help in the paint store.

Beige is the colour cast of ’70s sitcom reruns and sweaty plastic chairs in hot school halls with no air conditioning.

Beige is the quiche of cuisine.

Actually the anti-quiche thing is something I never understood. As long as the pastry is perfectly short and the filling a sublime combination of artfully selected and presented flavours with a just-right texture throughout, quiche is top notch.

That said, the only person who has ever actually achieved this super-quiche is my mum. Nobody else comes close.

To beige or not to beige

If you’ve read this far and are suddenly feeling uneasy about your beige brand colours or are flinging psychic daggers at these words in defence of your beige brand palette, wait up, I’m just getting to the point of this post.

close up of hand holding eye makeup palette of neutral colours. Image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Obviously there are millions who think beige is a fabulous idea – it’s everywhere in social media, branding, clothing and, yes, interiors.

I freely admit there are some truly delightful beige things around these days. There are even beige things on my I’d-love-to-live-somewhere-just-like-this mood board!

In business, the very popular neutral palette inevitably includes a beige-y swatch or three, but to be fair to the aversion firmly etched into my very being, these modern beiges mostly look way better than they used to, and have far more desirable names like ‘sand’ or ‘souffle’ or ‘antique’.

So why do we anti-beigers still instantly cringe at the mention of the word?

randomly placed photo prints of clothing in beige palette. Image by Harper Sunday at Unsplash

Do you really think, or do you let habits think for you?

We have acquired a veritable cacophony of habits throughout our lives and they affect us every single day. From the brand of washing products we buy, the places we like to holiday, political views, etc and many other etc’s, through to how we build and run our businesses.

Every day we make decisions that feel validated because of a belief or attitude we’ve held for years. Beliefs and attitudes that may no longer be in our best interests.

In my case, beige – literally and conceptually – is a prime example of a strong belief or preference that is now quite separate to reason or aesthetics, it’s a habitual opinion.

If I’m on autopilot, rejecting beige-ness just because I didn’t like it 20 years ago, maybe you are too. What other things are we missing?

So?

Consider this a shared call to awareness. Just as Steve Jobs and the team at Apple liberated computers from beige, we can free ourselves from the restrictions of habitual thinking.

To help inspire your voyage of mindful decision-making, I’m offering a simple prompt to download and use as your phone wallpaper. One that will quietly ask, Am I really thinking, or is a habit thinking for me?

There are three versions to choose from, including a beige one, of course.

Click this link to access your prompts.

This post features stock images sourced from Canva, Unsplash (Ellie Ellien, Helena Lopes, Harper Sunday, Kelly Sikkema), Pexels (Daniel Dan), and a sublime Apple advertisement from 1998.
A quiet spotlight on how we make business decisions. It includes free phone wallpapers for you to download.