Own Your Colour


Have you considered the power of ‘owning’ a specific brand colour? I’m not talking about actually buying a colour or attempting to lay claim to a pantone swatch… what I think is important when it comes to a memorable brand is using a colour in an extensive and captivating way. This may seem trivial and very low on your priority list, but colour can be a powerful tool that is undervalued by many businesses.

Think of these recognized brands in the Canadian Banking industry: TD is green. RBC is blue and yellow. Scotia Bank is red. ING Direct, which is now Tangerine is well…tangerine. Why do these brands go to such great lengths to permeate their marketing collateral and physical spaces with a specific colour?

Colour makes a difference in purchase behaviour.

Colour can account for up to 85 percent of the reason people buy one product over another, according to the Color Marketing Group—a professional organization for colour designers in Alexandria, VA. Colours can also increase brand recognition by 80 percent, according to a 2007 study by psychology and management researchers at the University of Loyola, Maryland.

We begin to recognize and differentiate between colours as early as 18 months old and colour is one of the easiest ways for our brain to create a cognitive heuristic—meaning that we create short-cuts to decision-making based on associating specific brands and purchase decisions with their respective colour. I’ve seen this first hand at Frito Lay where we saw consumers purchase their favourite variety of chips based on the colour of the bag alone…you never want to mess with the colour of Salt & Vinegar chips :).

Every company has to have a colour but you can be strategic about what colour you choose and how you use it. Here are three things to remember when choosing colours for your brand:

1. Choose a colour (or colours) that reflects the emotion of the brand and the experience you want to convey. Softer pastel palettes have a very different emotional connection vs. neon yellow or navy blue. AirBnB, the wildly successful global rental community, developed their own “hero colour” named Rausch. They feel it captures the emotion of travel and the passion of their community. It is warm, human, energetic, and complemented by a palette of colors that gives their brand room for expression. Source: http://designairs.com/inside-brand-evolution/

2. Differentiate yourself from competitors. A common mistake of businesses is that they fall into the trap of choosing colours and brands that match current market expectations. These colours are often safe and blend in with the competition with the hope that their brand can be seen as credible by consumers and on par with big players. The problem is that they don’t stand out enough to warrant attention and if the colours are too similar to market leaders, consumers will choose the more familiar brand anyway as brand recognition is linked to brand preference.

3. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Take the idea of differentiation to the next level… it takes a lot of courage to stand out from the crowd and be noticeably different. This strategy feels uncomfortable to the majority of people and is why it’s not used more often. Mamma Chia is a new organic Chia seed company who decided to own the colour bright purple. Seeing them at a recent trade show in Anaheim with thousands of other companies vying for the attention of retail buyers, they stood out. They were memorable and the colour matched the energy and brand they want to have in the market. That same ability to pop will translate to the shelf as consumers have a multitude of choices before them and only 30 seconds to choose.

There’s a lot more depth that could explored on this subject but I hope it gives you reason to pause and think about the colours your organization is using (or not). Do you own one? What does your colour say about you and your brand? Does it stand out? How much extra effort does it really take to own your own colour?

Have a great day!