Adapted from "True Colors: Using Color to Build Your Brand," a previous MarketingProfs article (August 2004) by William Arruda.
As a marketer, you are likely aware of the psychological impact of color. Color is one tool in our branding toolbox to help express brand attributes and create emotional connections with constituencies. But color is not just for large corporations or products on the grocery-store shelf; it's an important aspect of your personal brand as well.
We all have opinions about color. We select colors for our clothes and the walls of our house. But this article is not about choosing colors to highlight your skin tone or create a certain aesthetic in your home. It's about choosing colors reflective of your unique promise of value that you can use consistently in your career-marketing tools.
To get in the right mindset for selecting a color (or colors) for your brand, let's look at how companies use color.
When you hear "Big Blue," what company comes to mind? IBM, of course.
IBM maximizes its unique relationship with the color blue. It's the primary color on the corporate website and is used in all presentations, on marketing materials, on signage, and in the names of many of its products and programs: Blue Gene, Deep Blue, and Extreme Blue—just to name a few. Although blue is the most common logo color for American corporations, it's probably more often associated with IBM than with any other brand.
Like IBM, some organizations are so consistent and steadfast in their use of color that they practically own that color in our minds. Think Home Depot, National Breast Cancer Foundation, UPS, and Target. And some companies actually do own their colors. Premier jeweler Tiffany & Co., for example, has registered its trademark robin's-egg blue as a brand asset: It's Pantone Matching System (PMS) 1837 (for the year Tiffany was founded).
Although IBM is associated with the most common corporate color, UPS chose one of the least-used colors—brown—to help it stand out from the pack. The brown uniforms and vans and the tagline "What can brown do for you?" are important and effective elements of the company's brand-communications strategy.
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