Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Feeling yellow? Or maybe blue? What color says about your brand

I caught the tail end of a piece on NPR this morning (OMG, you're still using AOL for e-mail?) on what your e-mail address says about your personal brand - how people will perceive you differently if you give them a hotmail address instead of gmail, for example.  (My favorite line was from the man justifying keeping his AOL address because "I have one of the original addresses with no numbers so it's easier for you to type.")  [What the piece didn't mention is that we're almost at the point where any e-mail address dates you, compared to TXT, twitter, facebook and the like.  Ah, progress.]

Anyway, the story made me think about other indirect elements that can play a role in branding, and specifically the implications that color can have on how your corporate brand is perceived.

A great site named Cymbolism set up a nice little interactive tool that shows you a word and lets you pick the color that you think best represents that color.  In addition to providing your own input, you can browse through the color associations, and I find it fascinating to see the colors people pick.

The UsabilityPost blog took that work one step further by lining up the primary associations for popular colors against major brands that highlight that color in their logos.

Which brings us to the marketing thought for the day - what do the colors you highlight in your logo, Web site, or product UI say about you?  Is it what you expected, or even what you want?  And of course, this works both ways - you can be proactive by heading on over to Cymbolism when coming up with new products or marketing material and see what color might best represent the associations you want to put in your viewers' minds.



    Keith Brooks | Website: | 12/9/2009 12:46:30 PM GMT

    I let the forces around us dictate color, but since I am a HUGE Miami Dolphins fan and University of Miami fan, orange and green naturally worked.

    Always interesting about colors.

    For instance why do iPhones ONLY come in black and white?

    Why do minivans, that hated car we must drive for car pools NOT come in Ferrari red or yellow but ugly blues, blacks, greys?

    Why is pavement black? I know tar and all but some color would be nice, no? Especially on a highway?

    Why are American footballs brown? Or soccer balls black and white?

    Maybe a post about black and white is more productive these days? hehehe

    Adam Gartenberg | Website: | 12/9/2009 12:57:00 PM GMT

    Not all minivans - ours is a nice sleek Salsa Red Pearl (and this photo doesn't really do it justice, even):

    And if you're looking to do business locally (or even regionally), mirroring the local team colors is not a bad strategy. You see lots of red around here (NC State), and various shades of blue next door in Chapel Hill and Durham.

    Keith Brooks | Website: | 12/9/2009 1:18:46 PM GMT

    Seen that red, it's nice but still for years they did not and some still do not, come in nice colors or designs for that matter.

    Talk about a bad UI :-)

    Mirroring works but you also have to represent it. Our cards show the ocean and beach, always reminding people about south florida.

    It also helps to have a good logo which people stop to ask about.

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