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:
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.
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.
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.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted Media Consumption, by Generation
This visualization explores how each generation’s media consumption is changing amid the frenzy of pandemic-induced quarantines.
Media Consumption in the Age of COVID-19
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc across the globe, people’s time that would have otherwise been spent perusing malls or going to live events, is now being spent on the sofa.
During this period of pandemic-induced social isolation, it’s no surprise that people are consuming vast amounts of media. Today’s graphics use data from a Global Web Index report to explore how people have increased their media consumption as a result of the outbreak, and how it differs across each generation.
More Time to Kill
Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.
Unsurprisingly, 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. Gen Zers however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.
Overall, younger generations are more likely to entertain themselves by playing games on their mobile or computer. Millennials also stand out as the foodie generation, as they are the most likely to be searching for cooking recipes or reading up on healthy eating.
Leaning on a Pillar of Trust
Across the board, consumers view the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most trusted source of information for any COVID-19 related updates.
This isn’t true everywhere on a regional basis, however. For example, while U.S. consumers trust WHO the most, UK consumers view their government as their most trusted news source overall.
Trust in information shared on social media is higher than word of mouth from friends and family, and even foreign government websites. That said, it is lower than information shared on the radio or news websites.
The Need for Pandemic Positivity
While staying abreast of pandemic updates is important, ultimately, a positive mindset and the ability to switch off will help people cope better day-to-day.
Therefore, it seems reasonable that people are more inclined to invest in new subscription services since they have been in isolation, with almost one-third of Gen Zers considering purchasing Netflix, followed by Disney+.
Understandably, people are becoming increasingly worried about how much time they are dedicating to their screens. However, research suggests that screen time itself is no cause for concern. Rather, it’s the content we choose to consume that could have a significant impact our psychological well-being.
Perhaps most intriguingly, the TV shows and movies that are increasing in popularity on Netflix are about pandemics—which could signify the need for people to fictionalize the chaos we find ourselves in.
Regardless of what type of content we are consuming, the fact is that every generation is relying on their devices during this pandemic to inform and distract more than ever before, creating a huge opportunity for media companies to engage a captive audience.
The Most Loved Brands, by Generation
Can a brand transcend time and be all things to all people? This graphic seeks to find out by visualizing the most loved brands by generation.
The Most Beloved Brands, by Generation
When it comes to buying into brands, consumers are spoiled for choice.
The vast amount of options available makes it increasingly difficult for brands to build meaningful emotional connections with them—but for the brands that do, the payoff can be huge.
Today’s graphic pulls data from MBLM’s 2020 Brand Intimacy Report and visualizes the top 10 brands that different generations connect with the most.
Can Emotion Be Measured?
Brands that tap into consumers’ emotions can establish higher levels of trust. This in turn creates a culture of loyalty that could ensure a unique standing in the market and long-term growth.
In fact, intimate brands that have a strong emotional bond with their consumers tend to outperform top companies listed on the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 in both revenue and profit. To measure how brands emotionally connect with consumers, MBLM looked at four key factors:
- Users: The existing relationship between a brand and a consumer
- Emotional Connection: The degree of positive feelings the user has for a brand, and the extent to which their personal values align with the brand’s values
- Archetype: The six markers that are present among intimate brands, which include fulfillment, identity, enhancement, ritual, nostalgia, and indulgence
- Stage: The degree of intensity in the relationship across three phases: sharing, bonding, and fusing
- Intimacy Score: Based on these four components, a score is assigned, ranging from 0-100
The total score also reveals which brands rank the highest across different age groups. While there are some commonalities across each generation, can brands be all things to all people?
The Chosen One
There are very few brands that have the luxury of retaining loyal customers from different age brackets. Amazon, however, manages to transcend age. The retail giant appears in the top five for Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers—with the latter awarding the brand their #1 spot.
Every generation named “enhancement” as Amazon’s defining trait, meaning their lives have improved as a result of the relationship. The “ritual” trait also scored high, with users claiming the brand has become ingrained into their daily behavior.
Ranked: Top Brands by Generation
Gen Z and Millennials (18-34)
Sony-owned PlayStation holds the title for the most intimate brand among Millennials, climbing up from the 8th spot in 2019. Impressively, more than 50% of Millennials have an emotional connection to the brand, with men having a particularly strong affinity for it.
Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the gaming brand’s success has been fueled by the increasing popularity of multiplayer and professional gaming, as well as new product innovation—with five of the ten best selling consoles owned by PlayStation.
|#1||PlayStation||78.3||Media and Entertainment|
|#4||Disney||67.8||Media and Entertainment|
|#8||YouTube||63.0||Media and Entertainment|
|#9||Xbox||59.8||Media and Entertainment|
|#10||Nintendo||56.8||Media and Entertainment|
Interestingly, when Gen Z (18-24) are singled out, Microsoft-owned Xbox ranks as #1, increasing its score to 73.5 in 2020 from 49.7 in 2018.
Gen X (35-54)
As the generational middle child, Gen X did not grow up with the same access to technology. However, their tech adoption is almost on par with Millennials, with similar adoption rates across tablet and smartphone ownership.
It is no surprise therefore, that Apple has captured the hearts of this generation, sitting proudly in first place. When the iPhone launched in 2007, this group was between 22-41 years old, so they have likely been loyal followers of the tech brand since its earlier days.
|#3||Netlix||66.1||Media and Entertainment|
|#5||Disney||65.0||Media and Entertainment|
|#8||Xbox||57.0||Media and Entertainment|
While this generation has no qualms about shopping online, 72% of them shop in brick and mortar stores and are satisfied with doing so—which may be part of the reason why retail giant Walmart joins Amazon in the top 10.
Baby Boomers (55-64)
Controlling almost 70% of disposable income in the U.S., Baby Boomers are arguably the most influential of all consumer groups.
While they feel the most emotionally connected to Amazon, it’s also true that Apple was another tech brand to win the affection of this age group.
|#6||Hershey’s||54.8||Consumer Packaged Goods|
|#8||Pillsbury||51.8||Consumer Packaged Goods|
|#9||Kellogg’s||50.0||Consumer Packaged Goods|
|#10||Pepsi||50.0||Consumer Packaged Goods|
This generation dominates almost 50% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales in the U.S.—which likely explains why the rest of their top brands are more traditional household names, such as Macy’s, Hershey’s, and Kellogg’s.
It is also clear from the ranking that this group values brands with nostalgic qualities, as well as the ability to provide them with moments of indulgence.
The Changing Brand Landscape
The brand and consumer relationship has shifted with the ages, but each generation’s unique value system has remained the most important piece of the puzzle.
It is worth noting that none of the Baby Boomer’s favorite brands appear in the ranking for those aged 18-24 (Gen Z). Are the preferences of younger generations signalling a cultural shift, in which we place more value on distraction rather than satisfaction?
Note: The 2020 Brand Intimacy Report covers an age range of 18-64. The way that the ranking is structured makes it difficult to reflect conventional demographic groups (e.g. Gen Z, the Silent Generation etc.)
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