Real Men Know Colors

Long, long ago, a female friend of mine told me excitedly that she finally owned a car. Back then, that was a big deal. What kind? I asked, getting swept up in the excitement. “It’s yellow!” was her response.

Then I bought a car of my own, and I was bemused when the first question by many of the females around me was, “what color is it?”

Really? I mean, sure I care what color my car is, but that comes way behind a lot of other considerations. As I age the other parameters reshuffle, but color remains pretty low on the list.

And we all know the woman who wins the office football pool based on the colors of the team jerseys. Aye Caramba.

But men know colors. A grizzled old farmer tells his grizzled old pal that he bought a tractor, and if it weren’t unthinkable that grizzled old pal wouldn’t already know the answer, he might ask “what color is it?” Because with big tractors there are two colors. Green and orange. John Deere and Massey Fergusen. If it’s a smaller tractor it might be red. You will never see green and orange on the same farm. Hell, you’ll rarely see both in the same town.

Real men know their colors, where those colors matter. They can tell Makita Teal from Bosch Blue; at a glance Milwaukee’s red stands out next to DeWalt’s Yellow and Black, which is totally different from Stanley’s Black and Yellow. Bonus points if you know Northern Industrial’s Maroon and Gray, and the occasional less-than-tasteful neon green of Kawasaki.

If I were to go to a financier and ask for money to start a tool company, I would fully expect one of the first questions to be “what color are they?”

As I perused a tool catalog to make sure I’d got my colors right (and to look at tool porn), I noticed that both Klutch and Wel-Bilt are going for silver and black. Sorry, guys. Craftsman is predominantly black but has gold highlights, and they own that space. Silver and Black just says you don’t want to be noticed. When a carpenter is trimming the end of a 2×4 with his silver-and-black circular saw, no one will think about the brand of saw he’s chosen for the task. While I find Kawasaki’s color choice brash, there’s no doubt that their tools are not afraid to strut on the worksite. If you’re selling a tool, at a glance everyone who matters around the worksite should know what brand your happy customers chose. Money can’t buy that kind of marketing. Which do you think sells better:

“Bosch has great roller bearings.”
“Joe uses Bosch, and Joe knows his shit.”

How do we know Joe uses Bosch? Bosch Blue, that’s how. And it’s nothing like Makita Teal.


4 thoughts on “Real Men Know Colors

  1. Don’t forget International Harvester red, Farmall orangish-red, Ford blue, and even Cat yellow (one of my father’s neighbors worked his fields with a bulldozer). Tractors have long lives, outliving their makers.

  2. Caterpillar is not out of business. Just in an endless cycle of hiring and laying off. One of them is neon green…is it Ryobi? I can’t remember.

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