Color is perceived on three levels and they work together!

Physiological/subliminal: how our bodies reflexively respond to color; our subliminal associations of color based on our first interactions with color in nature reside in our collective unconscious.

Cultural: the conventions of color usage throughout time in specific cultures.


Marketing context: i.e., green in “warm beverages” means decaf … or in sodas it can be a flavor cue for lemon-lime.

Red is the most extroverted color in the spectrum, representing vitality, life and energy.

People want to eat and drink more in the presence of red (i.e., Campbell’s Soup is a good example). In American culture, and in an American marketing context, red represents strength and leadership. The perceptual set of “red brands” includes: Target, Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Band-Aid, and Jell-O, market leaders all and “representatives” of classic, mainstream Americana.

Red IS the color to “own” or to use as an umbrella ‘owning color’ strategy because of its status as the most dominant color of all. It’s always a good idea for a brand to try to “own” a color in people’s minds (e.g. Immediate consumer associations of a color with the brand … i.e., Kodak and yellow, Duracell and copper/black) since people remember color first in the hierarchy of visual memory.

Owning a color affords instant recognition and distinction by customers in our highly saturated, complex and competitive brand landscape.

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  1. […] color RED. I found an excellent reference on the subject of brand-building and color ownership, via Cathy Cotter of Cotter Visual Communications. Red is the most extroverted color in the spectrum, representing […]

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