Is color the ultimate brand expression?

by Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

Could color be the ultimate brand expression? It makes sense. It’s evokes emotion. It connects with the heart first. It is easily understood in any language. It is quickly identified with just a glance. For example, Tiffany owns a specific shade of robin’s egg blue. All you have to do is spot a box with that color and you automatically get an emotion of special, luxury, and exclusive. You also know it’s Tiffany even though there is no logo on the box. That’s brand power. UPS has made a strong case to own brown. Their marketing campaign over the last 4-5 years “What can brown do for you?” is an attempt to own the color and to infuse it with an emotion of service and trust that brown gets things done and delivers on its promises.

Recently Christian Louboutin has went to court to own “Chinese Red”. Their famous shoes are spotted on well-heeled A-listers on the red carpet as well as women who want something iconic. Louboutin’s can be identified many yards away with their iconic red soles. They are currently battling Yves Saint Laurent for doing the same with their shoes. The main argument is brand confusion. In fact, Christian Louboutin trademarked the red in 2008. I believe they have a very valid point. Corporations have been able to trademark and protect brand colors and shapes, so why not fashion? In essence, fashion is one of the ultimate industries where intellectual property is worth billions of dollars. Just look at the knock-off industry to validate this claim.

When it comes to creating a brand, color is a powerful tools because of it’s emotional appeal. It says a lot without any words. Now, that’s power. You show a hunter green circle, on a white cup, what comes to mind? Starbucks of course. Show a set of letters in primary colors you automatically read “Google” even if the letters spell something different. Just the arrangement of red and white stripes with a blue field induces strong emotions about America. This is why brand is not logical, but emotional and emotions are much stronger than logic. We humans operate mostly on emotions and use logic to justify why we “feel” or act a certain way. Even in various religions from around the world, color has significant meanings because of the emotion it evokes. Color is not about taste or what you may personally like. Color, used properly, can become an indespensible tool to reinforce your brand essence and what it stands for.

Is color the ultimate brand expression? It well could be.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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