Color and Branding

by Paul Sable and Okan Akcay

The use of color in branding has taken on new importance as more companies go  global. Global brands such as BP (British Petroleum) (green), Cadburys  Chocolate (purple), Hershey’s Chocolate (brown), and Kodak (yellow) use color to differentiate, but also to stand out.

Brands are fortified in memory by way of an “associative memory network.” Marketers use color to strengthen associations. For example, we all have evoked sets. This is the set of brands that come into our head when we have a need for something (e.g., rent-a-car companies). What company do you associate with the colors red, yellow, blue, etc.? If consumers lack the motivation or ability to evaluate a product they may use signals or “extrinsic values” such as appearance or color to make a decision.  In today’s world of product parity and competition (with lots of options and brands), branding and perhaps color will be more important. Color will have more importance in countries where illiteracy prevails or the use of symbolism is widespread. International brand and product names also are often plagued by problems of language, pronunciation, meaning, cultural considerations and legalities and as a result, non-verbal cues have become increasingly important in positioning international brands quickly and effectively.

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