Branding Mantras: Colour Connectivity
Colour has always delivered a highly charged emotional connection within jewellery, steeped in tradition and in legend. Historically, the first documented jewellery known to man embraced colour. Evidence of such is a 16-amulet necklace in bright faience blue, found in ancient Egyptian artefacts. From ions ago to today, colour has been a jewellery motivator from its design to the desire to own it.
While we all know about the Tiffany blue box, were you aware of how Tiffany leverages their colour asset beyond the box?”
ur brains are wired to associate the sensations that colour offers. While colour and fine jewellery go hand-in-hand in obvious ways, the notso-obvious use of it associated with and placed within specific jewellery heightens a colour’s connectivity. In their branding and marketing efforts, some designers have leveraged this asset in highly effective ways. Perhaps the most recognised and identifiable example is Tiffany.
While recent national (US) news has been quick to outline a 4% sales drop in Tiffany’s 2016 holiday sales and a 3% worldwide sales decline as of May 2017, they are too quick to allege a branding disconnect from its core luxury base. Since it has included introductory priced items, Tiffany’s blue box brand has certainly had its challenges, yet there have been no published studies that defend anything but the fact the Tiffany’s trademarked blue is an immediate, globally recognised colour that instantly connects anyone with the Tiffany luxury brand.
In fact, a recent Wharton study on the topic speaks to the lift in awareness and younger aspiration to the brand. This is also seen in Tiffany’s Fall 2017 campaign featuring Lady Gaga and other Millennialfocused celebrities, always displaying the Pantone, PMS number 1837, or the colloquial name “Tiffany Blue,” dating back to 1837, the year of its colour trademark.
While we all know about the Tiffany blue box, were you aware of how Tiffany leverages their colour asset beyond the box? A lesser known example is the
Tiffany Blue Book, first published in 1845 and published annually since. The Blue Book is the apogee of the brand’s creative achievement, where beautiful geological specimens shine. Since Francesca Amfitheatrof joined Tiffany in 2013 (the house’s first female design director) the Blue Book has also become a narrative in high jewellery’s relationship to fine art. “Blue Book really is something that is borne from within us. We create something that’s going to become an heirloom. These are going to become treasures,” Amfitheatrof notes. (She has since left Tiffany.)
The day after the Blue Book is revealed, Tiffany’s private appointment room is always booked with clients vying for coveted pieces. Stylists and celebrities
Yet, it is the shrewd and perhaps most innovative who use colour as a direct association with their jewellery designs that offer a new form of consumer touch-point.”
always reserve the creations from the book to wear at red carpet events. For a select group, that evening is an invitation to
Tiffany’s Blue Book Ball. Held at New York’s Cunard Building, celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon have been seen wearing a $10 million diamond necklace from the collection, while Diane Kruger and Jessica Biel adorn Tiffany creations, which fall in the $15 million to $20 million spectrum. Tiffany promotes this event to the public by displaying an enormous blue box and replicates the look during the winter holiday season in Manhattan.
Having served as CMO for jewellery retailer Scott Kay for a decade, Scott and I would often strategise over the use of purple in his packaging. A deep majestic purple connecting one with all things regal and rich was the goal. “It must be a dark purple, like the Vikings football team…” Scott Kay would say. After years of filings, the Patent and Trademark Office awarded the Scott Kay corporation with the trademark for using purple in all fine jewellery packing. Sadly, that occurred around the time of his passing and hasn’t been leveraged since. Scott Kay knew that the use of the right colour in the right way backed by consistent marketing would produce an emotional connection to his styles. The Scott Kay Purple Signature Collection was a nod in that direction as created exclusively for Jared years ago.
Yet, it is the shrewd and perhaps most innovative who use colour as a direct association with their jewellery designs that offer a new form of consumer touch-point.
Often executed as a subtle enhancement and sometimes “hidden” within the jewellery, coloured gemstones are used to romance the design in a special way. These gems touch the skin of the wearer and offer a branded link to the designer’s DNA and brand message. The use of coloured gemstones within jewellery also offers storytelling that engages consumers of all ages.
While it is rare to find, there are fine jewellery brands that have added an element to their brand story through coloured gemstone inclusions.
Red quickens the pulse
Roberto Coin has a signature gemstone, the ruby, set next to his laser inscribed initials. Why the ruby, and why is the stone set on the inside of the piece rather than on the outside? While the Roberto Coin brand was launched in 1977, it was only in 1996 that his designs, while diverse, were each branded by a red ruby. Inspired by an ancient Egyptian legend, each Roberto Coin design features a “hidden” ruby, which is Coin’s expression and offering for long life, health and happiness. The red ruby legend stems from the ancient belief that when a ruby touches your skin, it exudes a mystical and positive energy to its wearer. Moreover, it is the dense vibrancy of the actual red colour that people instantly respond to.
Dating back to 1340 BC in Egypt, red colours were long associated with love and passion, and in personal adornment as a symbol of adoration. The very first wedding band came from Alexandria in Egypt and was worn by Queen Nefertiti. Her band was pure red, crafted from rich, red flower petals used to dye palm leaves. The leaves were cut, tightly wrapped, then woven into a band. Of course, once Egyptians discovered how to set coloured
stones, their queens and pharaohs began wearing lavish and colourful headdresses, necklaces and statement rings.
By measuring electronic brainwaves and heartbeats, we can see that a person’s pulse spikes when he or she looks at the colour red. Depending on where that red colour is placed, it may have either a powerful positive or negative connection.
The adage may be old, but the significance rings true for today’s bride. There is a level of superstition connected to “something blue”, denoting sustained happiness and longevity within the marriage, when worn by the female in some capacity. Vera Wang incorporates this superstition into her Love bridal jewellery collection by using blue sapphires. “I hope this gemstone addition will culminate in a timeless ring that will be treasured for an eternity,” Vera Wang stated when asked why she brands with sapphires.
The use of colour in this way also provides recognition that the item is authentic to the designer.
The allure of peridot
A colour story that resonates in a very individualistic way has been crafted by a newcomer to the jewellery world, Cathy Beck. Based on the love of her secondborn, she selected the child’s August birthstone, peridot, to be branded in each of her designs.
This is a collection that has a strong and personalised story all by itself, due to the nature of her convertible and interchangeable customisation of rings and pendants. Beck is launching a fine jewellery collection that offers a worldwide first – the ability to have any shape crown fit securely on a ring shank. Each shank features a peridot next to the initials “CB” which are the hallmarks for her Creative Being line, where the purchaser is the designer.
“I selected the peridot since it is my daughter’s birthstone and it offers a powerful alignment to nature, abundance and life itself,” stated Beck. “I wanted something that would touch your skin and touch your heart,” she added.
Peridot’s history, in both nature and in culture, is fascinating. It is one of the oldest known gemstones. Ancient records document peridot mining as early as 1500 BC. It is especially connected with ancient Egypt, and historians have confirmed that Cleopatra, known for wearing green stones once thought to be emeralds, was adorned with peridots.
I’ve used the word brand a lot in this article. A brand is a promise, an essence, the soul if you will, of a product or service. It differs from marketing, which is the execution of strategic planning, tactics, pricing, positioning and placement. Without a brand, one has an empty offering. No matter how strong the marketing may be, without a soul, a brand will be short-lived, if it lives at all. Colour can help differentiate a brand since colour symbolism in jewellery connects people to product and ignites a story, some as ancient as time itself.
I envision more designers leveraging the power of colour in their branding. By doing so, their brand will gain added vibrancy and a detail of storytelling that will result in additional sales and retention.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
A brand is a promise, an essence, the soul if you will, of a product or service. It differs from marketing, which is the execution of strategic planning, tactics, pricing, positioning and placement. Without a brand, one has an empty offering. No matter how strong the marketing may be, without a soul, a brand will be short-lived, if it lives at all. ”
Symphony bangle in 18-karat pink gold and diamonds featuring the brand’s signature ruby by Roberto Coin. (Photo: Roberto Coin)
Roberto Coin’s 18-karat Golden Gate Bridge ring accented by diamonds and featuring the brand’s signature ruby. (Photo: Roberto Coin)
Tiffany’s iconic Blue Box. (Photo: Tiffany & Co.)
Rings from Vera Wang’s Love collection, launched in association with Zale’s, featuring her signature blue sapphire. (Photos: Vera Wang)
Rings featuring a peridot on the inside of the shaft as well as an interchangeable peridot top that fits onto the shank of any ring in collections by Creative Being. (Photos: Creative Being)