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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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Airline Incidents: How Do Boeing and Airbus Compare?

This graphic shows U.S. airline incidents across the two largest aircraft manufacturers in the world as Boeing faces increased scrutiny.

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This area chart shows airline incidents across Boeing and Airbus since 2014.

Airline Incidents: How Do Boeing and Airbus Compare?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

For decades, the global airline manufacturing industry has been run by a duopoly, split between American titan Boeing and European manufacturer Airbus.

After years of safety issues, the American aircraft manufacturer has come under fire after a door flew off a Boeing 737 MAX 9 on an Alaska Air flight in January, which recently led its CEO to resign. This incident follows two fatal crashes of its aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

This graphic compares the number of U.S. aviation incidents between Boeing and Airbus, based on data from the National Transportation Safety Board.

A Closer Look at Airline Incidents

The U.S. stands as Boeing’s largest market, comprising 58% of annual revenues in 2023.

By contrast, North America was Airbus’s third-biggest market, making up 21% of annual revenues, following Europe and Asia. Below, we show the number of aviation incidents between the two giants since 2014 in the U.S. and international waters:

YearBoeing IncidentsAirbus Incidents
2024204
202313740
202211132
20219924
20205822
20198637
201811225
201710824
201610222
20157121
20146613

*Data for 2024 up to the end of February.

So far this year, Boeing has faced 20 incidents, with the Alaska Air flight as the most high-profile case due to missing bolts in the emergency door causing it to fly off the hinge.

One potential driver that has been identified by the company is that employee bonuses have been heavily tied to financial incentives. Prior to the incident, they accounted for 75% of annual bonuses in its commercial unit, with the remainder tied to operational targets that included safety and quality measures. Now, as the company overhauls its production process, the company is making safety and quality metrics 60% of the annual reward.

For many years, Boeing has faced safety concerns with its aircraft, leading regulators to ground its 737 MAX 8 planes for two years after a fatal crash in 2019. Making matters worse, aircraft regulators have faced sharp budget cuts since 2013, allowing manufacturers to “self-certify” their planes on safety requirements.

Yet quality issues are not exclusive to Boeing. In some of the latest deliveries for Airbus, customers have raised quality concerns along with complaints of delays. In January, for instance, an Airbus A319 plane on a United Airlines flight made an emergency landing due to a potential faulty door.

Leading up to this point, incidents for both Boeing and Airbus hit decade-highs in 2023 amid a record 16.3 million flights in America. The good news is that there were no reported fatal accidents across passenger jet aircraft in 2023. In fact, there have been no fatal crashes across U.S. airlines in almost 15 years.

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