What do your brand colours say about you?

Is there an art or a science to choosing the ‘right’ brand colours? Well, it’s generally not just something that is based on guess work.  More often than not, expert consultation would have been sought and an incomprehensible amount of hours spent on choosing the right identity for a brand.

Colour is massively important but each has a different feel, identity and number of associations. There are also cultural differences when using colours, something that will always need to be thought about when doing global campaigns transcending different regions.

For example, a lesser known fact may be that in China, red is the colour of happiness and central to the wedding theme, signifying joy, love and prosperity. However, interestingly enough, the very same colour should never be used for text as when written it signifies death.

Let’s take the colour orange. It’s famously used by easyJet, Orange and… the dutch.




A few years ago now, Orange objected to easyMobile (easyJet’s attempt at dominating the mobile market, and failing) Stelios’s answer to that was, “I’ll see you in court.” and “It is our right to use our own corporate colour for which we have become famous during the last 10 years. We have nothing to be afraid of in this court case. They are clearly worried about the competition.” At the time, they also planned to add a disclaimer on the website saying that EasyMobile is not connected to Orange Personal Communications, arguing that the colour is an essential part of their iconic brand. More here.

How did it get to that stage? Who owns the colour? Is that even possible? Here’s a great article on the topic from back in 2005. Can you own a colour?

Then you’ve got T-Mobile who thought they ‘owned’ the colour magenta.


Engadget, the brilliant consumer tech site, launched a mobile arm, imaginatively titled Engadget Mobile and used a colour similar to what T-Mobile use in their brand messaging. They weren’t too happy about this and T-Mobile “requested the prompt discontinuation of the use of the color magenta on Engadget Mobile.”

Engadget Mobile

Hilarious. They had no idea the backlash that was going to follow soon after, here, here, here and here. Not to mention the the 549 comments on Engadget’s post on the topic. The word I’m probably looking for is FAIL.

None of this would have happened if they used the rather superb Cymbolism. I lied, it probably would have, but check it out, such a brilliant website. It’s “the ultimate tool a designer has at his or her disposal to communicate feeling and mood. It’s a new website that attempts to quantify the association between colors and words, making it simple for designers to choose the best colors for the desired emotional effect.”


Using Cymbolism, Dmitry over at Usabilitypost worked through a series of colours, provided real life examples and the words that Cymbolism came up with linked to the colours. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is awesome.

At work, the branding is largely red. According to Cymbolism, this means that at Consolidated PR we’re passionate, powerful, bold, radical and excited. I’d say that’s entirely accurate too.

What do your brand colours say about you?

Brand Colours

Interacting via social media isn’t the preserve of the young

Following on from my post previously from The Times here another interesting read was found in the 16th April issue of NMA where Rebecca Jennings, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research wrote a similar piece how an older age than expected is using social media. The following is a repost of that article.

Most interactive marketers know that young consumers are very engaged in social media, but many fail to appreciate that the same social tools can also be used to reach older users. Recent Forrester research shows there are a significant number of European baby boomers – adults aged 43-63 – who already read social media on a regular basis, and another, slightly smaller subset who are already uploading their own content, like videos, onto the web. Marketers can take advantage of this by offering them value with useful information and support provided in a social context.

Overall, 47% of younger boomers – those online adults aged 43 to 52 – now engage with social media on a regular basis, as well as the 41% of older boomers – those aged 53 to 63 – that also take part. In each of the groups, more than a third can be classified as spectators, or those who are reading social content such as blogs at least monthly.

While boomers are taking the plunge into consuming social content, they’ve been slower at joining social networks; just 10% of younger boomers and just 7% of older boomers participate in this type of activity. For example, one of the most popular social networks aimed at older consumers, SagaZone in the UK, has around 45,000 users, compared to Facebook’s estimated 18m+ users.

Despite their resistance to joining social networks, both young and old boomers are contributing their own opinions online – known as being a critic. These critics do things like participate in forums or post their own reviews online. Encouragingly for marketers, around a tenth of both age groups fall in to this category and a slightly smaller percentage, 9% of younger boomers and 7% of older ones, are creators: those who upload their own content or write their own blogs.

Marketers should also take note that just as participation in social media varies between age groups, it also varies between European countries. Dutch boomers lead the pack as the most engaged older audience overall, with 69% of 43-52 year olds and 60% of 53-63 year olds using social media on a regular basis.Of these other Europeans, Italian boomers are the keenest creators, with around 17% of younger boomers and 14% of older boomers involved. Younger boomers in the UK are considerably more engaged than older ones, with around 52% of 43-52 year olds engaged in social media, but just 38% of 53-63 year olds. About 40% of boomers in both France and Spain are keen spectators but just a third of the German boomer audience are engaged in social media.