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The Rainbow Connection - The Use of Color in Advertising

How brands rely on color for your instant recognition.

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One of the first things considered when researching this article about brands and color was the UPS slogan, “What can Brown do for you?”

I never liked the line when first introduced, but over time, it came to grow on me. After all, there was one remarkable and immediate distinction for UPS from all other carriers – its distinctive brown trucks and brown uniforms. It was a slogan so well regarded that it received a 2008 acknowledgement on The Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.

Ironically, this “spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of marketing techniques” has just revealed that the slogan was replaced in 2010 by “We (heart) Logistics.” Imagine how many average consumers know that. And more importantly, can remember its origin with UPS.  

Color is very important in giving us the ability to associate a particular hue with a particular emotion or association. In previous years, my advertising study suggested that red was the right color for encouraging appetite (hence used in restaurants) and was bold, aggressive, sexy and powerful.  Cartier has been connected with this color for the richness of its luxury jewelry.

Blue is restful, cool (as in temperature) and medicinal.  The robin’s egg blue that reinforces the luxury of Tiffany’s products is an long-standing association with the brand too.

Purple has always been associated with elegance, romanticism and royalty while green has new growth (no pun intended) in the areas of natural, organic, environmental representations.

But my favorite discovery is orange – not just for its warmth and alliance with autumn – but some articles and reports suggesting it is retro, mellow shade. It has been my son’s favorite since he was very small – including its latest use as the paint/finish on the latest autos. 

So the next time you shop, notice how along with product name and packaging, identifying the familiar color can direct you to reach for the brand --  off the shelf and into your shopping cart.