Business Weekly (Zimbabwe)
Importance of colour in branding
Ilove the month of October. It is a month that bristles with a lot of femininity. All those pink ribbons commemorating Breast Cancer Month just brings some warmth to the soul. However, the most beautiful thing about this month is seeing our “macho man” dawning pink ribbons (What a sight to behold).
On December 1, we celebrate World Aids Day. Again more colour, and the red ribbons remind us of those among us who have succumbed or are living with HIV/ AIDS.
In my opinion, another ribbon colour should be added to the vast array of commemorative paraphernalia for our young children who are being mercilessly butchered for ritual purposes.
Colours are significant in the business realm and are a strong indicator of brand health and strength.
According to Shimp 2010; “Colour is not meant to just make a brand look attractive; it is required to speak different emotional and cognitive messages to customers.”
When Vodacom rebranded its colour from blue/green to red, it attracted the ire of pesky competitor CellC.
Vodacom’s rebranding from blue green to red raised a lot of discussions in the market and a tiff competitor CellC.
The resultant war of words led to a huge lawsuit.
In an advert Noah taunts Vodacom’s colour rebranding efforts by walking to a new black Ferrari and gushing; “It takes more than a lick of red paint to be SA’s number one.”
What riled Vodacom was the fact that though their choice of colour depicted energy, their competitors had perceived them as an old tired brand.
There are 5 basic colours which are: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. The neutral colours are black, white and grey.
Generally, black is associated with sophistication and the colour provokes strong emotions. Companies such as Nike and Adidas are famous for offering sophisticated products and display strong brand identities when compared with their competitors. The red colour is usually associated with energy and excitement.
According to Design Crowd, a graphic design firm, red is mostly favoured by company executives “to draw as many eyes as possible”.
The colour is most favoured in fast paced tech companies trying to appeal to youthful markets.
In addition, Design Crowd observed that food and beverage companies use red in their branding as they believe that looking at the colour as “increases appetite”.
The Zimbabwean food and beverage industry is certainly dotted with companies that use red as the basic brand colour.
Fast food outlets such Chicken Inn, KFC, Chicken Licken, Eat and Lick certainly have red elements in their logos. Research has shown that 25 percent of the world’s leading companies use it as a background or main colour.
Hot on the heels of red is blue.
While red depicts energy and freedom the blue colour denotes conservatism, trustworthiness and stability.
The Zimbabwean banking sector certainly is dominated by “blue” inspired brands.
Stanbic, First Capital Bank, FBC, Standard Bank all have streaks of blue somewhere in their logos.
As expected, these brands are well known for their longevity and trustworthiness on the market.
Other colours such as yellow though they bright also communicate caution. The medical health industry in Zimbabwe tends to be branded with green. The green colour is a powerful symbol of wellness and vitality.
Our iconic brands do not seem to have any particular patterns that they used in terms of colour selection.
Let’s take the interesting example of Coke. Coke painted its barrels red so that they will be distinguishable from alcohol during transportation.
In this way the company avoided being bothered by the taxman.
BMW takes its blue colours from the flag of the state of Bavaria from which the company originated.
Google uses a lot of primary colours and only uses the green colour on the letter L to break up the order. This is meant to announce the fact that Google breaks all the rules.
Do SMEs value colours as a branding technique?
A deep dive survey by SODECO revealed some interesting trends in how SMEs decide on their colours. The survey revealed that 95 percent of the SMEs who were interviewed for this article had no idea why they had chosen their colours.
Some noted that their brand colours were their favourite colours.
Generally, the study concluded that colour as a branding tool is not widely acknowledged and appreciated by the SME sector.
So why is colour important?
It is generally agreed that owning a colour in the mind of the consumer is generally quite difficult to achieve, though some colours are clearly, associated with some brands.
For example, companies such as Coca Cola more or less are associated with the colour red.
In South Africa, the Outsurance have a distinctive purple and green colours that differentiates them from their competitors.
Research has shown that 90 percent of instant judgements are made on colour alone depending on the product. It is thus important to pick a colour that differentiates you from the market and your competitors.
The cellphone industry in Zimbabwe has done this very well.
The companies clearly are delineated along colour lines and are distinctively different in their styles and offerings.
Colours can be used to deliver consistency and powerful positioning in logos, corporate marketing, packaging and even uniforms.
In conclusion what does the colour of your company stand for? Has your colour enhanced your brand identity? If it’s not, then you know it’s time to rebrand.
Reflect on this “colourful quote” — If everyone looks for that uniqueness then we will have a very colourful world.