The Strategy of Color


We all have favorite colors. And when it comes time to design a logo, clients often want to infuse a little of their own personality into their brand. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what are those color choices saying about your business?


I’ve written and spoke in the past about the different emotions color can evoke. Did you know red is often associated with food? Orange can mean success? Purple can signify both calm and luxury? You may not realize it, but many of the logos you are very accustomed to seeing were strategically colored in a way to attract you to their product, based on who their target audience is. This interesting experiment by Brazilian graphic designer Paúla Rupolo shows how unsettling it is to see a brand in another brand’s color scheme.

But what is most interesting about the exercise is that Paúla swapped brand colors with brands that sold the same type of product (Lego vs. Playmobil, Heineken vs. Budweiser, FedEx vs. UPS), and even still, the colors seem wrong. Why is that? It tells us the color should not reflect the product but, more importantly, the color should attract the target market.


Take Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, for example. While both companies sell coffee, Starbucks is after a different type of coffee drinker, someone who takes it a little slower, wants to hang out in a coffee shop, is socially conscious, and is looking for a certain caché to be projected by the coffee cup they carry. Green speaks to wealth, nature, and ease in that way. Dunkin Donuts is built more for the consumer on-the-go. Someone who just needs their coffee, needs it now, and isn’t looking to hang out and relax the way an ideal Starbuck drinker might. The orange in the Dunkin Donuts logo speaks to the energy and aggressiveness.

Color may be just one of the many components of your brand, but don’t overlook what it can do for your brand and your bottom line! What are your brand colors saying to your customers?