Color in Branding: What Does it Say About Your Industry?
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Color in Branding: What Does it Say About Your Industry?

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Color in Branding: What Does it Say About Your Industry?

Color in Branding: What Does it Say About Your Industry?

The use of color can be a powerful way to guide the associations consumers have about a brand, but how and why certain colors are used can often be perplexing.

The color red is the perfect example. When it is used as a primary color for McDonald’s, red is meant to energize and attract the attention of potential customers. Red is also thought by some psychologists as a hunger stimulant, which might help them sell more Big Macs and McNuggets at the end of the day.

However, in the case of a company such as British Airways, red is supposed to represent none of those things. For an airline brand, red should be about warmth and a sense of caring, and it ostensibly helps to make customers feel more comfortable flying. For the famous shoe brand Vans, the color red is supposed to evoke feelings of desire and passion, with a hope that customers will link these concepts intrinsically to their brand.

How can red mean so many different things at the same time? The answer is context, much of which is provided by consumers choosing between brands within a particular industry.

Color and Context

When consumers plan to make a purchase decision, they are typically deciding between an evoked set of companies that they’re familiar with for a specific industry or sector. In buying an automobile, for example, a consumer may only to be willing to only consider buying a Toyota, Ford, or Honda.

Since these brands are competing against one another for a “spot” in the mind of consumers, their brands are positioned based on consumer needs and desires in order to win certain associations. Color is an important part of this – but the need is only to differentiate from competitors within an industry, since non-auto brands like McDonald’s or Calvin Klein are not a part of the evoked set of brand choices in this situation.

Therefore, industry context is an essential factor that determines the color choices made by companies for their branding.

Examples: Color in Branding

Today’s infographic from Towergate Insurance breaks down 26 industries by the colors used in top brands, providing an additional focus on industries such as autos, pharmaceutical, and apparel to identify the reasons why particular colors are used.

Here are some examples worth thinking about:

Autos
Based on the breakdown of the top 20 brands in the auto industry, it is interesting to see that silver is used with more prominence than in other sectors. Silver provides a sense of luxury and high-quality workmanship. Red and blue are also popular colors for brands in the auto sector. Red can symbol masculinity, while blue is supposed to represent reliability for brands like Volkswagen or Ford.

Pharma
Within the context of pharmaceutical branding, the concepts of health, vitality, and optimism are important. Blue, which is used as a color in branding for companies such as Pfizer, is meant to represent well-being. Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline’s orange is meant to be optimistic and energetic. Vitality or health can also be represented with green, which has a strong association with nature and healing.

Apparel
Fashion is dominated by companies that use black as a part of their branding. Of the top 20 apparel and accessory brands, 12 of them use black in their logos to evoke senses of sophistication, formality, style, or luxury.

These include companies such as Chanel, Zara, Adidas, Nike, Oakley, Burberry, Cartier, and many others.

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Automotive

The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today

This infographic lists the most fuel efficient cars over the past 46 years, including the current leader for 2023.

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The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today

When shopping for a new car, what is the most important factor you look for? According to Statista, it’s not design, quality, or even safety—it’s fuel efficiency.

Because of this, automakers are always looking for clever ways to improve gas mileage in their cars. Beating the competition by even the slimmest of margins can give valuable bragging rights within a segment.

In this infographic, we’ve used data from the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report to list off the most fuel efficient cars from 1975 to today.

Editor’s note: This is from a U.S. government agency, so the data shown skews towards cars sold in North America.

Data Overview

All of the information in the above infographic is listed in the table below. Data was only available in 5-year increments up until 2005, after which it switches to annual.

Model YearMakeModelReal World Fuel Economy (mpg)Engine Type
1975HondaCivic28.3Gas
1980VWRabbit40.3Diesel
1985ChevroletSprint49.6Gas
1990GeoMetro53.4Gas
1995HondaCivic47.3Gas
2000HondaInsight57.4Hybrid
2005HondaInsight53.3Hybrid
2006HondaInsight53Hybrid
2007ToyotaPrius46.2Hybrid
2008ToyotaPrius46.2Hybrid
2009ToyotaPrius46.2Hybrid
2010HondaFCX60.2FCEV
2011BMWActive E100.6EV
2012Mitsubishii-MiEV109EV
2013ToyotaiQ EV117EV
2014BMWi3121.3EV
2015BMWi3121.3EV
2016BMWi3121.3EV
2017HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV
2018HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV
2019HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV
2020Tesla3138.6EV
2021Tesla3139.1EV

From this dataset, we can identify three distinct approaches to maximizing fuel efficiency.

Downsizing

Prior to 2000, the best way for automakers to achieve good fuel efficiency was by downsizing. Making cars smaller (lighter) meant they could also be fitted with very small engines.

For example, the 1985 Chevrolet Sprint was rated at 49.6 MPG, but had a sluggish 0-60 time of 15 seconds.

Hybrids

The 2000s saw the introduction of mass-market hybrid vehicles like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. By including a small battery to support the combustion engine, automakers could achieve good MPGs without sacrificing so heavily on size.

While the Insight achieved better fuel economy than the Prius, it was the latter that became synonymous with the term “hybrid”. This was largely due to the Prius’ more practical 4-door design.

The following table compares annual U.S. sales figures for both models. Insight sales have fluctuated drastically because Honda has produced the model in several short spans (1999-2006, 2009-2014, 2018-2022).

YearInsight SalesPrius Sales
2005666107,155
2006722106,971
20073181,221
2008-158,884
200920,572150,831
201020,962140,928
201115,549136,464
20126,619236,655
20134,802234,228
20143,965207,372
20151,458184,794
201667136,629
20173108,661
201812,51387,590
201923,68669,718
202015,93243,525
202118,68559,010
20227,62833,352

Source: goodcarbadcar.net

The Prius may have dominated the hybrid market for a long time, but it too has run into troubles. Sales have been declining since 2014, even setting historic lows in recent years.

There are several reasons behind this trend, with one being a wider availability of hybrid models from other brands. We also can’t ignore the release of the Tesla Model 3, which began shipping to customers in 2017.

Electric Vehicles

We’re currently in the middle of a historic transition to electric vehicles. However, because EVs do not use fuel, the EPA had to develop a new system called MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent).

This new metric gives us the ability to compare the efficiency of EVs with traditional gas-powered cars. An underlying assumption of MPGe is that 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity is comparable to the energy content of a gallon of fuel.

The most fuel efficient car you can buy today is the 2023 Lucid Air, which achieves 140 MPGe. Close behind it is the 2023 Tesla Model 3 RWD, which is rated at 132 MPGe.

Check out this page to see the EPA’s top 10 most efficient vehicles for 2023.

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