Brady's Blog: The Ten Thousand Foot View of Bridgeport's Color War

By Tim Brady on June 16, 2012 from Brady's Blog via

I’ve been thinking a lot about Tracy Marrow the last few weeks.  I’m sure that name means nothing to most, if any, of you.  If I told you he was on Law & Order: SVU that still wouldn’t mean much.  If I told you he was a seminal figure in an American music movement you wouldn’t bat an eye.  But If I said he stars in the reality tv hit Ice Loves Coco you’d start putting two and two together.
Yes, I’ve been thinking about Ice T.  Back in 1988 he dropped what would eventually be named the 19th greatest hip-hop song of all time, the title track from the soundtrack to the movie Colors.  The movie, which starred Robert Duvall and Sean Penn, and the song deal with the gang wars in Los Angeles.  Bloods versus Crips.  Red versus blue.  In the parlance of the time it was known as the Los Angeles Color War.
Not that what’s been happening here in Bridgeport is remotely similar to the gang-related violence of the Los Angeles streets, but the debate over colors has intensified.  Four years ago the City of Bridgeport, through a study and campaign funded by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, adopted a new logo, positioning statement and orange and blue color scheme.  City Council adopted it at the time and it’s been in use ever since.
The logo is simple.  Affectionately known as “the Easter egg”, it is the letter ‘B’ made with four intersecting lines.  It’s not just a ‘B’, but it’s representative of the intersection of I-79 and Route 50.  The positioning statement “Opportunity Lives Here” has caught on and seems to be well-received.  But the colors?  Well, the response to the colors has been a mixed bag from the beginning.
At their last meeting, Bridgeport City Council voted to phase out the blue and orange and phase in red, white and black as the City’s new official colors.  This was met with hosannas and the laying of palm fronds on the streets.  I kid, but the decision was well-received.  As the colors of Bridgeport High School, many in the community wanted to see those colors translated to the municipality, as well.  I’m ok with that.
The blue and orange scheme was chosen for a reason, though.  And I don’t anticipate the CVB reversing course in the same fashion as the City.  Off the cuff, I’d say that the City will move toward a red/white/black combo that maintains the same aesthetic look, while the CVB will hold the course on the blue and orange.  The City must concern itself with internal appeal, but the CVB is more focused on external appeal.  The CVB markets to people outside of Bridgeport, and the current colors have served us well in the last four years.
There was thought and consideration that went into the selection of the blue and orange color scheme.  Again, these colors were chosen for marketing purposes.  They were selected to illicit a response and make an emotional appeal.  Here are some excerpts on the psychology of color that came from a focus group study:
Blue – The majority of people polled will say that blue is their favorite color.  The color blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming.  Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty.
Orange – Orange is the color most associated with fun times, happy and energetic days and warmth.  It’s also associated with ambition.  Orange is associated with a new dawn in attitude.
Red – Red is the color of energy.  It’s associated with movement and excitement.  Red is the symbol of life.  People surrounded by red find their heart beating a little bit faster and often report feeling a bit out of breath.
White – White is a compression of all colors in the spectrum.  For most of the world it is associated with purity, cleanliness and the safety of bright light.  It is also used to project neutrality.
Black – Black is the color of authority and power.  It’s a somber color sometimes associated with evil (the cowboy in the black hat is usually the “bad guy”).  Black is associated with grieving.  It is a serious color that evokes strong emotions; it is easy to overwhelm people with too much black.
Again, this is psychological analysis of how we perceive colors.  Marketing is, by and large, psychology.  It’s the art of getting someone to do something.
Bottom lining this thing from my perspective, red, white and black are great colors for a sports program that wants to generate excitement and a feeling of authority and power.  These are not ideal colors for marketing a community. If you’re rolling the football team into someone’s town, you want them to get the overwhelming feeling that they’re about to be steamrolled.  If you’re trying to entice someone to visit or move here, you want to take a different approach.  You want to be welcoming and make them feels as if this is a happy and comfortable place, which it is.  
“My colors, my honor.  My colors, my all.  With my colors upon me, one soldier stands tall.”
Those are lyrics from the song that’s been kicking through my head the last few days.  As I reflect on the song, the theme of the movie and the discussion that’s been taking place in Bridgeport recently, I do so with an open mind.  I completely understand where folks who pushed to have the colors changed are coming from.  The high school is engrained in this community and for many it’s the identity of our city.  My hope is that those who are proponents of the red, white and black color scheme understand why the orange and blue were chosen four years ago, and why it is my opinion that the CVB and its subsidiaries will stick with what’s been working well for us.
While we debate the issue and civilly disagree, we are all one community.
Author's Note: Yes, that's my senior picture.  This weekend, as my first blog goes up, the Washington Irving High School Class of 1992 will celebrate our 20th reunion.  I thought the picture was appropriate.  

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