It is interesting to me how some companies and organizations put so much stock into color — making it an integral part of their brand — and others change their palette almost on a whim.

Probably one of the most iconic colors is the Tiffany blue — a specific robin’s egg tint that adorns little boxes of bling.  You could put a billboard up in that color and most women in America would know which company it was promoting.

UPS is noted for their dark trucks, and played up the notion in their “What Can Brown Do For You?” advertising campaign.  Breast cancer has a lock on pink.  Coca Cola confused hundreds when the changed their cans to white to promote their “Save the Polar Bear” campaign.  I guess that the mind thinks that Coke cans should be red.

Sports teams capitalize on the enhancement that color brings to their fan base and identity.  Someone once wrote that for the Cardinals opener there was a baseball game “45,000 combinations of red clothing.”  Syracuse and Tennessee are known for their orange; Michigan for the “maize and gold”, and so on.  Our university’s apparel policy even prohibits clothing in the colors of our main nemesis.

Walmart has such awareness of the power of color that it has mandated that the DVD rental machine known as the “Red Box”, be painted Walmart blue inside their stores.  No promoting the red of their main competitor, Target, even in that innocuous way.  

The presence or absence of a color can make a powerful statement about your identity and consistency of use can go a long way in anchoring your brand.  There is no right or wrong way to treat color, but how you handle yours should be intentional.  Take a look around your space and see if an outsider could surmise a considered palette choice, and, if not, what you can do to bring some integrity to your messaging through color.

— beth triplett

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