Great Brands Own A Color

Great Brands Own A Color

The great brands of the world generally can claim ownership of a color, either universally or at least in their market. And this claim to a color should be a consideration during any brand development.

Color plays an important role in branding. It can evoke a positive feeling and help a company to stand out in a crowded market. And for the lucky few, a color becomes synonymous with their brand. In fact, colors can become as universally identifiable as the company’s logo until ultimately, all it takes to identify a company is to mention an industry and a color.

How many companies can you identify with only an industry and a color reference?  

    1. Fast Food. Golden Arches.
    2. Technology. Big Blue. 
    3. Database. Orange
    4. Soft drinks. Red.
    5. Soft drinks. Blue.
    6. Shipping. Brown.
    7. Coffee. Green.
    8. Tax services. Bright Green.
    9. Furniture. Gold & Blue
    10. Jewelry. Soft Blue.
    11. U.S. Automotive. Blue. 
    12. Networking. Green.
    13. Fashion. Plaid.
    14. Computer Chips. Blue.
    15. Search. “Rainbow”.
    16. Copiers. Red.
    17. Heavy Construction Equipment. Black & Gold.
    18. Gasoline. Green.
    19. Batteries. Black & Gold.
    20. Credit Card. Red & Yellow.

Is it the color or their market leadership?

It can be argued that the color association is strong because most of the aforementioned brands are either the market leaders or close seconds. But that accounts only for the industry recognition component. The color association relates more to a strong brand identity: continual use of one or more main colors until those colors become inseparable from the identity.

Excellent color decisions.

Some notable recent color choices that come to mind are UPS and H&R Block. With UPS, when the decision was made to redesign Paul Rand’s iconic UPS logo - there was some buzz that agencies pitching the rebrand were suggesting an update of the UPS color palette as well. Fortunately, Futurebrand, the chosen agency, espoused the wisdom of keeping brown - in fact, they identified what seems so apparent. UPS owns brown. And so was born the “What can brown do for you” campaign that accompanied the brand’s relaunch.

H&R Block, on the other hand, wanted to reposition themselves as a more full-fledged financial services company - but first they had to shake off their yearly tax accountant moniker. The choice of a neon green helped to differentiate them from other stodgy tax firms, and helped them to stand out in a crowded market. The fresh, bright color certainly gets them noticed and helps a 60+ year old company seem young and new.

Our recommendation: Own a color when you create or redesign your brand

When we’re working with clients to develop or reinvent a brand, we generally start by examining their color palette. We analyze whether they already own a color in their market, or if we can help them stand out by updating their color selection. Often there’s an allegiance to an existing color scheme or some other impediment that precludes “owning” a color - but when we can, we explore this as a fundamental brand element. And when circumstances permit, we look to “own” a color for our clients.

Answers: 1.McDonald’s, 2.IBM, 3.Oracle, 4.Coca-Cola, 5.Pepsi, 6.UPS, 7.Starbucks, 8.H&R Block, 9.IKEA, 10.Tiffanys, 11.Ford, 12.Cisco, 13.Burberry, 14.Intel, 15.Google, 16.Xerox, 17.Caterpillar, 18.BP, 19.Duracell, 20.Mastercard

Jul 03, 2009

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