How to Use Color for Effective Brand Management

Brand Management

Coloring Your Brand

There is an idea in marketing about the relationship between color and persuasion; how the color red, yellow, and orange can make a person hungry and want to go buy a Big Mac. However, there is little factual data that a certain color can actually make anyone do anything. Much of the evidence to support this theory is based on anecdotal accounts and loose correlations.
Gregory Ciotti, a marketing strategist at, explains that the misconception that color has any influence on people is misleading because, “elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us.” Color means different things to different people in different places.
So what’s a marketer to do?
Brand Management ColorCiotti explains that all hope is not lost: “colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.” Just not the way we have traditionally believed.
More important than what the color is, Ciotti cites studies that show a greater importance of how the color is used.  The effective use of branding color is a critical aspect of Brand Management and falls into the categories of perception, appropriateness, and differentiation.


“Colors influence how consumers view the “personality” of the brand in question.” For example, cultural perceptions of pink are generally thought of as soft, gentle, and feminine. When people see these colors, they associate these characteristics to the brand. Think of companies who use pink as their main color: Victoria’s Secret, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and Barbie. A customer’s willingness to purchase a product depends on the next factor.


Appropriateness means that the color and the brand’s product or service match. Take Ford Motors for example.  Their marketing slogan for trucks is “Built Ford Tough,” indicating a rugged and tough persona. The colors they use for this campaign are gray, steel and blue which represent industrial, working, hard, durable, etc. Given our previous discussion about the color pink, we can conclude that pink would not be an appropriate color for this campaign. If they used pink as the primary color, it is safe to say Ford would have a difficult time selling their trucks to their targeted audience.


Differentiation is referred to as the use of color to distinguish one brand from the other, Ciotti says, “if the competition all uses blue, you’ll stand out by using purple.” In some cases it literally pays to think outside the box.  Just make sure that the perception of colors you use matches the appropriateness of what you are selling.

According to a research group from the Department of Administrative Studies at the University of Winnipeg, in Canada,“ People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of their assessment is based on colors alone.” That is how much time a brand has to convince the customer of the effective use of perception, appropriateness, and differentiation in their use of color.
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