The Importance of Company Colors for Challenger Brands

In a recent new business meeting with a prospective client, a classic Challenger Brand, we asked the CEO what were their company’s corporate colors. With a saddened, but resolute look, the CEO earnestly said, “I have no earthly idea.” We responded by saying, “You’ve known us now for about 20-minutes; what are our corporate colors?” “Red and yellow,” he said immediately and somewhat defeatedly.

This Challenger Brand has been enjoying some success in their industry for over 25 years without consistent or even recognizable marks, logos or a distinguishable color palette. However, now that this marketer is ready to elevate their brand, they need to understand what their brand stands for and how to visually communicate those emotions, attributes and brand strengths. A good place to initiate a brand elevation design project, is with color.

Many brands are known because of their color. Can you imagine Coca-Cola Green? McDonald’s Blue Arches? UPS – What can purple do for you? For brands like these, you know them and share affinity for them, in large part, because of the emotional familiarity you have for their colors. Consumers are comfortable with a brand’s DNA frequently expressed in its color scheme.

One need look no further than US colleges where the school’s colors can be as important and proprietary as the degrees they offer. Harvard’s crimson, Michigan’s azure blue and maize, Dartmouth’s green (which is officially called Dartmouth Green), Tennessee’s orange (such an unusual shade of orange sherbet, it’s simply known as UT orange), Texas’ burnt orange which is markedly different than Syracuse’s orange and we won’t even bring up Brown.

To help Challenger Brands on their color journey, here is a list of emotions, perceptions and attributes associated with each color as most commonly expressed in western culture:

Red: Action, Passion, Anger, Vigor, Love, Danger, Confidence, Courage, Vitality

Yellow: Knowledge, Wisdom, Energy, Joy, Youth, Intellect

Green: Fertility, Wealth, Healing, Success, Growth, Life, Well-Being

White: Purity, Healing, Perfection, Clean, Virtue

Blue: Trust, Tranquility, Calm, Peace, Cool, Truth

Black: Earth, Stability, Luxury, Formal, Secrecy

Purple: Royalty, Spirituality, Imagination, Magic, Mystery

Orange: Creativity, Invigoration, Unique, Endurance

Gray: Balance, Sophistication, Neutrality, Maturity, Security

Applying color to your brand’s essence can have as much impact as the moment Dorothy Gale opened the front door of her tornado-swept house and first stepped foot on the yellow-brick road.

Do you think your company’s colors truly reflect its brand? We can help. If you think you need some assistance identifying the most appropriate colors for your company and its brands – contact us.

Until next month…

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