Effective brand communication: it starts with color.

What’s the name of the orange airline? How about the red cola? And the blue one? If you are asked to think about a purple chocolate bar, what brand comes to mind? Because our brains process it faster than any other visual information, color is an essential element of brand communication. Those of you contemplating corporate identities or packaging design, this post is for you.

For a brand to have a chance to make it on the marketplace, most marketers will agree that it needs to stand out from the competition, that it needs to be differentiated. Think of UPS, the s hipping company. Their entire branding strategy is built on what many would consider a dull, unsexy color: brown. Everything from their trucks to their drivers’ uniforms, even their advertising slogan «What can Brown do for You?», gravitates around that color. Similarly, when the Swiss postal services spun off in the late 1990s, the new entity got a new logo and a new slogan but chose to retain its predecessor’s yellow corporate color. Color made so much sense, the company even tried to trademark it.

The company even tried to trademark it.

Color is also a great strategy for brands operating in categories where advertising is highly regulated. Take pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for example. By referring to Nexium as the ‘Purple Pill’, the company not only found a way to promote its acid reflux drug in markets where the mention of brand names is prohibited, it also managed to create awareness of both the brand and the condition. Although it was released almost 15 years ago, hearburn sufferers still ask their doctors and pharmacists about the ‘Purple Pill’. Talk about effective color branding!

We all know some colors are best fit to trigger certain emotions. While this is influenced culturally, in Europe blue is calming and does a better job conveying the qualities of an insurance company like Zurich than red, a color often associated with danger. Orange conveys something cheap while burgundy says expensive. When Chiquita Brands International asked us to rethink their visual identity to add a notion of freshness and naturalness, we had their logo’s blue and yellow to work off from.

Text credits: ARD / agi

Images credits: ARD / EasyJet

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