Google+ The Color of Brand Success - McKnight Kurland

pinkYou’re starting to see it everywhere again—pink. The color of breast cancer awareness month, the new color of October. I don’t believe any other organization, cause, company, country has so effectively cornered and consistently used color as this. Regardless of the time of year, if you see a pink KitchenAid mixer, you think breast cancer. A rare few other brands use pink (Victoria Secret, Dunkin Donuts, Barbie, T-Mobile) in their primary palette. It’s very connected to the cause, which has helped tremendously in increasing awareness and action—if you’re going to buy a KitKat or Mike’s Hard Lemonade, you will gravitate to the pink packaged one because you know they support the cause.

Yes—color can drive engagement. There are scientific studies showing red, purple and pink promote post sharing, and green, black, blue and yellow all stop people from sharing. Keep that in mind when developing your social content!

Of course the issue of color appropriateness comes up all the time when we are developing identities and brand guidelines. But just google the psychology of color or color and marketing and you’ll find every justification for every possible color choice for your brand. A quite comprehensive—yet digestible—article that explores and dissects several viewpoints is at, titled: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding.

In the work we’ve done at McKnight Kurland over the years, we’ve found that rather than trying to pick a color with a supposed attribute (i.e. Blue is strong, important, peaceful, intelligent) and only present solutions in shades of that color, we explore all possible options EXCEPT colors that don’t appropriately represent the brand essence. For instance, we would likely rule out green for a peanut butter brand or lilac for a financial services organization.

Let’s look at some colors and brands who use them:logos1


A very difficult color for any brand to own regardless of sector. And its supposed attributes are mildly confusing—anger and danger, but also warmth and passion. It also is scientifically proven to increase heart rate and raise blood pressure. So who ‘owns’ it? I’d say Coke. And quite consistently. But if you looked at red’s emotional links, would you recommend it for a soft drink?

Orange—Home Depot uses it everywhere.

Yellow—McDonald’s, Burger King, and Post-It—generally used along with another color.

Green—Starbucks and John Deere (could their customer base be any farther apart?)

Brown—UPS fully embraced their color choice: What Can Brown Do For You?

Blue—Every healthcare organization, political candidate, tech firm, etc. etc. etc.

We just finished rebranding the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities to Alianza Americas, and created a visual brand palette that signals warmth and passion, combined with strength and solidarity. And although we explored quite a few color combinations, together with our client team we settled on a palette reminiscent of their former brand, yet appropriate to their vision. Greens and blues just would not have worked as well. ba

So back to pink. Look at its attributes: “the true color of love is pink. Pink is the most calming of all colors—often our most dangerous criminals are housed in pink cells as studies show that the color drains energy and calms aggression. Think of pink as the color of romance, love, and gentle feelings, to be in the pink is to be soothed.” Now consider whether this ‘soothing, gentle’ color should be the color of a rallying cry against a killer. A color that drains energy? Yet it is. And it is working tremendously well. So let’s go get our pink on!


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