Integrated: Color Me Persuasive

The object of all marketing is to be persuasive - to move your target audience to think, feel, or do something. Building a brand involves elements of persuasion and integrity. At Enterprise IG, we call this a "Compelling Truth." It's about identifying the aspect of a brand that not only underpins a company, product, or service but also builds preference with all audiences, including consumers, employees, and stakeholders.

Marketers can use many possible touchpoints to communicate with these audiences. Simply consider customers for the moment, and their daily exposure to multiple types of advertising. They experience an array of online, print, and broadcast messaging. Other components of marketing include sales, sales collateral, Web sites, and customer service. Many of these media provide a complete visual experience, where messaging is not limited to what's in the copy, but is also communicated through the design of the ad.

Color is an intrinsic, dynamic part of design. And the colors used, just like the words chosen, carry specific meanings. We read, respond, and recall color. And we use it in conversation. A friend can be "good as gold" or "true blue." A person can be "tickled pink." Each color inspires in us a certain shade of mood, emotion, or meaning. Gold means valued or valuable; blue can signify sincerity and trust; pink, the color of flushed cheeks, can mean young, embarrassed, or sweet.

Some brands' positioning relates directly to their use of color. UPS has evolved from using brown on its trucks and uniforms to being "brown" in its ad campaign, "What Can Brown Do for You?" The campaign, launched in 2002, capitalized on the high visibility of the company's signature color and the positive attributes that customers associated with UPS.

Tiffany & Co. is as much associated with little blue boxes as it is jewelry, making its packaging seem more luxurious than any other gift box. And a company doesn't have to trademark its own color to develop a rich association with it. When Nation's Bank purchased Bank of America, the company adopted the BofA name and a new design

system that took its hues from the American flag. The bank acknowledged the positive strength of red, which at the time was quite unusual for a financial services company, as the industry was used to the negative association of being "in the red." Competitors such as Commerce Bank have since adopted a similar palette.

I became even more convinced of the power of color after spending time with Margaret Walch, director of the Color Association of the United States and coauthor of The Color Compendium. The book includes sections on color systems, color communication, and historical and contemporary theorists on color. "Using color psychology and color symbolism are excellent ways to code messages," Walch says.

For marketers, this means that colors most closely associated with a desired positioning will enhance messaging. And, Walch says, using color to convey a specific message is becoming easier in today's more connected world.

Jean Brandolini Lamb is a director of brand strategy for Enterprise IG, the global brand agency. (

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