Executional elements can help brands stand out in their respective categories and resonate with their prospective consumers. But most brands can likely expect to own only one (in most cases, unless you have a massive marketing budget). So, you have to make a choice and then sacrifice everything else. What do you really want to own? Logo font (e.g., IBM)? Tag line (e.g., Allstate)? Shape (H&R Block)? Brand look (e.g., Apple)? Signature visual (e.g., Old Spice)? Nomenclature (e.g., McDonald’s)? Sound (e.g., Intel)? Something else?
Many brands focus on color to help build brand equity.
So, I decided to conduct a poll on LinkedIn to see what my connections think. I chose four brands—across a variety of product/service categories—that immediately came to mind in terms of their strong ownership of color. I purposely eliminated brands that would drastically tilt the playing field. If I included Tiffany, for example, I am quite certain it would garner nearly all (if not 100%) of the votes. Its ownership of color is so strong that “Tiffany blue” has become the colloquial name for the shade of blue universally associated with the brand. I also left out Tide and its ownership of the highly recognizable orange that dominates the laundry care aisle of every retailer.
- John Deere: 56%
- UPS: 33%
- T-Mobile: 9%
- Maker’s Mark: 3%
MY TOP THREE RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Differentiate from competition
Before making a choice on your brand color, audit your category. Carefully.
I believe one of the reasons for John Deere’s clear win in this poll is how distinct its color is. The brand carved out its distinct color palette a long time ago. Green—complemented with a bright yellow as a secondary color—was an obvious and good choice, since it is the color of grass. And at the time the color was available. If you were to launch a new brand in this category today, you would be wise to stay away from green, no matter how tempting it may be. An audit would also rule out red, which is currently being used by way too many brands including, but not limited to, Toro, Troy-Bilt, Craftsman, Honda, Makita, and Yard Machines.
In the mobile service provider category, T-Mobile’s bold magenta really stands out. Over time, I am confident this will become an increasingly valuable asset. T-Mobile is working hard to leverage the color in other ways, as well. The name of their top-tier plan is Magenta (with a registration mark). Now they are introducing Magenta MAX, their “best plan ever.”
For a long stretch, UPS activated—and increasingly build equity in— its distinct category color via the advertising campaign “What can Brown do for you?”
2. Resonate with consumers
Consider the psychological impact of your color choice.
As noted above, green was an obvious chose for Johne Deere. According to proven color theory, bright green conveys fresh, lively, outdoorsy, and foliage—all appropriate rational & emotional associations for the brand.
Brown works so well for UPS, because it conveys secure, durable, and warm—all intended to increase your confidence and comfort level when relying on the brand with your important deliveries.
3. Operate with consistency
Once you pick a color, stick to it. Consistently. Across all consumer touch points.
Maker’s Mark has the potential for stronger brand equity in the deep red they use for the distinct wax seal on it bottles. The issue is that Marker’s Mark has increasingly deviated from the iconic red to a variety of other colors for a variety of reasons (e.g., to denote different proof levels; for limited-time offerings; for sports-related promotional purposes; etc.). It appears that Maker’s Mark values the executional equity of the wax, not the red wax.
These are my thoughts on how organizations can create stronger brands to connect more strongly with their target audiences. I would love to hear yours.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. If you’d like to connect more strongly with your target audience, I’d love to help. Please message me at Todd@LINKTrainingAndConsulting.com, or call me at (513) 240-8383