Color choice and management are a primary part of branding. No matter what product you are selling, you need to consider the color of the product itself and its packaging. You must carefully think about the color of your logo before you publish and publicize it. Picking the right color combinations for a regional or national brand is tough enough. What happens when you are targeting a global market? What color management challenges will you face?
The interpretation of color in different areas of the world has a lot to do with indigenous culture, religion, and pop culture. International brands must be aware of such nuances? So how do the most popular brands in the world do it?
Most Popular Colors
One out of four of the top 100 brands uses blue as the dominant color in their logo. Gillette, IBM, Intel, and American Express are some of the most notable ones on the list.
Color experts opine that blue reminds people of the sky, making it very relatable. It is associated with reliability and consistency. It is also associated with positive things across major religions. In Eastern Europe, blue represents wisdom and virtue. This general positivity around blue makes it a go-to color for brands with a global target market. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are classic examples.
However, this assumption can also result in false premises. For instance, in Iran, blue is a color of mourning. In Japan, blue is not as nearly a popular brand color as in North America in Europe. Panasonic is the only top 10 brand in Japan with a logo that is dominantly blue.
Cultural and religious nuances, therefore, an important consideration for any international brand. Sometimes the effect that color has on consumers is subtle and happens subconsciously. For instance, in a culture that appreciates politeness, humility, and a disdain for bravado, the choice of shouting colors coupled with self-aggrandizing messages may be a mistake.
There are numerous color challenges that brands must be aware of when going global. The following are just a few!
Color Consistency Management
A brand’s recognizability is attained by consistently publishing its logo and colors on multiple communication avenues. There is a risk of watering down a brand’s value when their brand logo or colors are misrepresented through erroneous printing.
When setting up operations in other countries, a brand must decide on whom they will partner with to produce branded content and products. A logo could appear on branded digital content, company paperwork, merchandise, and the physical product itself. The risk may be so huge that the company decides to ship in already branded material from another country.
Strategic Intent and Color Perception
Color is so powerful in branding that the color represents your line of business in consumers’ minds. This is helpful when you intend to use customer goodwill to help your brand expand globally. However, color can be a hindrance when you are attempting to refresh your brand. It’s one of the color management challenges.
For instance, your brand may have been known for building hardware for phones and computers. The board decides to pivot to building and offering software as a service. This is a simplistic example, but a change of colors from perhaps red to blue may be more in line with its new core business. The challenge here is to figure out how your current colors align with your long-term strategic goals as you venture into global operations. How will the brand be perceived?
The Avenues of Communication
When deciding on colors for a brand, it is important to consider the channels of communication you intend to use and how the color will look. For instance, some colors may look good on billboards but not on brochures. What may look good on social media posts may not be fit for a print ad. Some brands may not need many words to accompany the image chosen for a social media flyer or billboard. Other brands may require some legible words on their billboards. Such considerations affect the choice of color.
What Accompanies Color
The interpretation of color tends to be very contextual. While black can portray minimalism and elegance, it can also be seen to portray evil or gloom. It is all about the context within which it is used. For a global branding campaign to succeed, there needs to be a witty strategy for spending. It’s another color management challenge that brands face often. For instance, the images put up on the brand’s Instagram and other social media posts have high quality, well thought out, and consistent theme and feel.
Research shows that some of the most successful branding campaigns on social media involve sending outposts with similar editing, fonts, and color themes. It creates a certain mood every time customers interact with the posts. If the company decides to use influencers, they must vet what such influencers share on their socials to avoid misrepresentations.
Another way to succeed in color management is to use publicity, whether paid or otherwise, to communicate verbally what the company is about. When launching in new markets, such things as press conferences, media interviews, short films, and editorial posts can help customers absorb new information about the company. Such information shapes how they perceive the brand when they visualize it.
Navigating the Terrain of Color Management Challenges
A lot of market research is necessary to balance the brand’s uniformity and customization for different markets. Big brands such as Procter & Gamble invest millions of dollars before launching products in new markets. The research reveals similarities and differences between people of different cultures to determine the product’s necessary tweaks and the marketing process.
Working with the right branding partner increases your chances of using colors correctly on the global scene. They will interpret your vision and intended brand perception accurately and advise on changes necessary to suit different markets’ cultural nuances. To learn more about branding and color management, check out Mann & Co Inc.