The Power of Color

I work in marketing, so I often think about color in terms of its applications for branding. Color is a crucial element of brand identity, and adopting a signature hue is one of the smartest things you can do for your organization.

The effects are psychological, physiological, and sociological. Signature colors attract attention, stick in your memory, and carry positive or negative connotations that can make you feel happy or sad. Considering that the goal of most organizations is to attract and keep followers, the colors of your brand or logo are a powerful tool.

Pink and the fight against breast cancer provide an excellent example.

In the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants of their New York City race honoring breast cancer survivors. This event is regarded as the first known use of the symbol and color in connection with the cause. The very next year, the pink ribbon was named the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Since then, the color has literally exploded, finding its way onto stamps, silicon wristbands, airplanes and NFL players. There are literally now hundreds of groups out there involved in the cause and most, if not all, have embraced the color and further contributed to its spread. Pink has become so intrinsically linked with breast cancer awareness in my mind that every time I see the color, I think of the cause. Upon passing a baby girl tucked in her stroller and bundled in a soft pink blanket, I admit that my first thought is often “Amen, sistah, save the ta-tas!”

While the color pink is a powerful, unifying element, it also provides a significant challenge to those organizations that are looking to differentiate themselves. This is where distinctive, consistent branding becomes absolutely essential to an organization’s success. If you pay close attention, you will notice that Susan G. Komen and the Avon Foundation are very specific about the shade of pink and the style of ribbon that they use in their marketing materials. They are not the same organization, and they want you to know it.

I can’t easily think of another corporation or cause that has come to dominate an entire color group in the consumer’s mind as much as pink and breast cancer awareness. I take that back. UPS has done a pretty good job with the color brown, but let’s be honest here they picked the color that nobody else wanted.

Pink is both an important cause and a remarkable example of smart marketing. And that’s something I can get behind.


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