RECORD companies have long promoted music for helping to set a mood, and paint brands similarly highlight the power of a coat of well-chosen paint to create the right ambience. Now a paint company is marrying those notions, with a smartphone app that suggests paint colors based on consumers’ favorite songs.
Users of Paintlist, a new app by Dutch Boy for iPhone or Android, can either use their devices’ microphones to identify a song they hear, as with the popular app Shazam, or select songs stored on their smartphones. Then, as a rendering of the Dutch Boy character stirs a can of paint, the app analyzes the song, and based on characteristics like tempo, suggests several color palettes.
After identifying the song “Towers” by Bon Iver, for example, the app suggested a slate-blue shade called Baltic Sea for walls and, for trim, Pale Blue Spring and black. For“Autumn in New York,” the duet with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, the app suggested painting walls Perpetual Green and doing the trim in a warm yellow called Glorious Glow and a shade of gray named — ironically, considering the song title — Silicon Valley.
Within the app, users can share the song-related palettes over Facebook and Twitter, and can find retailers where the paint is available.
The app and an online advertising campaign promoting it are by Marcus Thomas, representing the agency’s first work for Dutch Boy, a Sherwin-Williams Company brand. Both the brand and agency are based in Cleveland.
Patricia Macko, director of brand marketing at Dutch Boy, said the goal of the new app was to reach consumers from their late teens through early 30s, the so-called millennials, whose connection to the 106-year-old brand may be tenuous.
“We know millennials are who we need to be talking to, because they are the future homeowners in the category,” said Ms. Macko. “The brand is steeped in heritage, but for millennials it might just be something they remember seeing in their grandmother’s garage.”
King Hill, senior vice president at Marcus Thomas, said that when the agency was first trying to win the Dutch Boy account about a year ago, his team knew from the outset that the way to help the brand make its appeal to younger consumers was to somehow link paint to music.
“Music is a big vehicle for them to express themselves,” Mr. Thomas said, adding that millennials also trumpet their favorite bands on social networks. “We in some ways want to piggyback on what already is a popular conversation for them, and the strategy of the app is to join that conversation and to add to it.”
The app incorporates a song-identification technology service that recognizes more than 10 million songs, MusicDNA
ID It, whose producer also makes a music-recognition app,MusicDNA. Based on its genre, tempo and mood, a song can be assigned to one of about 750 classes, and the agency deferred to color specialists at Dutch Boy to assemble palettes that were evocative of each.
The experts “took what they know about color — things like temperature, value, intensity, saturation, et cetera — and used this experience to ‘translate’ the color characteristics to the music characteristics to build a palette for each of the combinations we created,” Mr. King explained in an email. “Danceable, fast-tempo pop might suggest intense, vibrant colors; whereas slow, dramatic, classical music would suggest muted, somber tones.”
The app was introduced on Oct. 15, with online and mobile advertising purchased through the Millennial Media and Apple’s iAd networks beginning Oct. 18. Advertising will appear on mobile platforms, other apps and online for both home improvement and music properties, includingHGTV.com, DIY.com, iTunes Radio, Spotify and Pandora.
Other paint brands also have smartphone apps, including Benjamin Moore, which in 2009 introduced Color Capture. Users photograph any object — from a painted fence to a flower to a sweater — and the app pinpoints the Benjamin Moore color that is closest to it.
ColorSmart by Behr Mobile, introduced in 2010, as well asGlidden on the Go by Glidden and ColorSnap Studio by Sherwin-Williams, both introduced in 2012, all also match colors in a photo to their brands’ offerings.
Additionally, the Behr app allows users to try paint colors in sample rooms with a tap of a finger. And the iPad version of the Sherwin-Williams app allows users to upload photographs of their own homes and virtually paint rooms in the brand’s hues.
Valspar, which has offered a range of smartphone apps in recent years, is introducing a new app, Color Connect, that will enable consumers to consult with color experts from the brand, either by showing a room in real time on a device’s video camera or by submitting a photograph and scheduling an audio-only consultation. The app, which is awaiting final approval from Apple, is expected to go live within a few weeks, according to the brand.
As for the new Dutch Boy app, Brian Morrissey, editor in chief of Digiday, an online publication that covers digital marketing and media, downloaded it and said it managed to make paint more interesting by “tapping into people’s existing passion” for music.
He did not think, however, that once downloaded the app would get heavy repeat usage.
“It’s a cute idea, and if their goal is to download it and use it once or twice, I think they may be O.K.,” Mr. Morrissey said. According to Localytics, a mobile-analytics firm, after downloading and opening an app, an average of 22 percent of users never give it a second try.
“This has a novelty factor,” he said, “but even for millennials, how many apps are they going to put on their phone and use regularly like Spotify or Shazam?”