Branding: Color Inside the Lines

Color is strong. It’s visual. Color is at the heart of branding. The Mad Men got the importance of color to a brand. In the movie Kramer versus Kramer, there’s a scene where an advertising executive, played by Dustin Hoffman, is in a grocery store with his child and grabs the cheapest brand but his kid tells him that mommy buys the other brand identified by its color.

Red is the strongest color in terms of response. Think stop signs. Traditionally, the market leader uses red since it ranks highest on the attention-getting ladder. The classic example is Coke (red) versus Pepsi (blue).

To see how companies in a category use color, look at car rental companies. This is one of the few cases where the market leader, Hertz, used yellow because the founder liked it. With the classic positioning, “We’re number 2, we try harder,” Avis used the bold red. Here are the visuals.

Brands can take their use of color beyond just the visual. Color can have strong associations with their name. Here are a few classic examples:

  • Brown has been part of UPS’ brand in terms of their trucks and uniforms. Who would think that brown, the color of mud (and other things that we don’t mention on this blog) could have a positive association? What can Brown do for you?
  • Big Blue is an older nickname for IBM.
  • Orange Bank is the name for ING, the Dutch bank.

Whether you’re starting to brand your product or giving it an update, don’t overlook the importance of color. It’s what people see first. Also, consider where your brand fits in the color spectrum versus your near competitors.

Are there any other ways that color influences branding? If so, what are they and how do they contribute to your overall branding strategy?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Photo credit: albastrica mititica via Flickr

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