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Backed in Black: How Companies Use the Psychology of Color to Build Their Brand
The dominant color of a brand reveals its values and personality and connects with its customer base.
While the images of black certainly run the gamut, companies have taken note that consumers choose to ignore the negatives (death, evil and fear) and embrace the positives associated with black (strength, authority, innovation, confidence, wealth, prestige, sophistication, glamour and sex appeal).
To prove that point, a recent study looked at the logo colors of the world’s 100 highest-earning companies. The top three colors were blue…red…and black!
Long synonymous with high-end fashion and luxury, the universal acceptance that it “goes great with everything” established the basic black dress as de rigueur in every woman’s closet. But over the last twenty years, black has also gained a solid foothold in industries such as technology, electronics and sportswear, capitalizing on black’s association with innovation, protection, confidence, simplicity and sleek design.
When used sparingly and creatively in ecommerce and web design, it’s proven to be extremely effective. With just the right amount, you’ve captured your audience. Too much, and you’re Hot Topic. Even the consistent use of black in a logo or packaging has shown to inflate the quality and sophistication of a product that is often neither.
The bottom line is that companies that wish to stay in the black, stay with black.
For high-end fashion, elegance and affluence, black has finished in the money for Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Lancôme, Estée Lauder and Chanel.
For technological innovation, Apple and Sony.
For sportswear and sleek design, Puma, Adidas, Nike and Gillette.
But perhaps one of the most enjoyable examples of all is Guinness. Whether you consider it nectar from heaven or 40W motor oil, since 1759 the brewery’s variations on Irish dry stouts and lagers have been a pub staple and cult favorite the world ‘round. When the Guinness harp (inspired by the Trinity College Harp) was chosen as their iconic symbol in 1862, the brew masters gathered to select the ideal color for their bottles, labels and logo. As their signature libation was black—and as black represented strength and sophistication—black became the obvious choice.
This simple selection created one of the first, rarest and certainly one of the most successful examples of matching the color of the packaging to the color of the product.