Your Colors Are Your Brand
Analyzing the Proper Use of Color to Maximize Brand Awareness
By Larry Mogelonsky President & Founder, LMA Communications | June 01, 2014
Here's a scary story. I'm driving to a meeting and get stopped at an intersection. While waiting for the light to change, my eyes dart sideways to a bus stop where there was a large poster for a local university. Trying to entice teenagers as well as targeting adults seeking continuing education courses, the ad was painted in a strong pumpkin orange background with thick stenciled yellow text and strokes of dark brown. The copywriting was bold, the message was clear; but what did this make me think of?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I admit, my stomach was probably getting the best of me, but the fact remains that a banner ad for a college, or any organization for that matter, should not make me draw such a divergent association. Alas though, you cannot blame the university for this brand linkage failure; it's Reese's fault. Yes, blame those yummy peanut butter cups.
This candy factory's marketing engine is so omnipresent that whenever the colors of yellow, orange and dark brown appear together in a billboard, TV commercial or any other advertising vehicle, we can't help ourselves but think of chocolaty peanut butter treats (at least here in North America). It's been permanently etched into our cerebrum. What's funny (and scary) is that, through catchy and persistent marketing, they effectively 'own' that color combination. And any business that tries to rival them for that 'color space' is fighting a steep uphill battle.
This is not to deny the intricate connection between a brand's symbols and its primary paints. Indeed, it's hard to describe any brand's use of shades and tints without also mentioning their special orientations, logo designs or specific fonts. So for now, let's keep the majority of our focus on color combinations and the patterns formed therein. As a warm-up, for each of the following descriptions of color combinations, guess which iconic company I am hinting at:
A short string of bolded royal purple and orange letters against a white background
Three horizontal strips thinly separated by white; top and bottom bands are standard orange and red respectively; the middle strip is twice the thickness of the other two and jade in color.