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September 01, 2012

Colours in Marketing!

Image credit: The Logo Company

Colours are exciting. Life without Colours would be very drab. We experience the world in Colour - Man is the only species that can see Colours. All other species see the world in black and white.

Thus it is not surprising that colours play a very significant role in the field of marketing. Most of the products and their packaging would be in the primary colours - Red, green and blue or a combinations of these three primary colours. Coca-Cola is predominantly red and Pepsi is blue and green is a Colour that symbolizes agriculture and is now the latest buzz is green field marketing or green marketing.

One other Colour that is very prominent in yellow. Yellow, Green and red are the colours that are used in traffic signals. Why these three colours? These are the colours that are attractive and visible from a distance. Precisely the reason why the golden arches of the McDonald are yellow. Yellow because they have to attract the travelers’ attention from long distance and induce them to stop.

Kodak too is heavily yellow. But as a marketer one needs to be careful about colours. Yellow is a very sacred colour in India. It is associated with the sun god.  

Colours have different symbolism in  different cultures. In South India white is seen as a sacred colour and white coloured clothes are worn for marriages and for holy occasions. But in the western part of India white is the colour of mourning.

I had worked in Ethiopia and once I wore a white flowing kutra pyjama to a college function. I was surprised at the reaction that I got. Many of my Ethiopian colleagues expressed their regret. I was shocked. On enquiry to my surprise I came to know that Ethiopians have the same custom as in the western part of India. White is for mourning. Talk of similarities of culture across the continents!

Similarly one needs to understand a culture before we try to assimilate ourselves into that culture. One US based company sent its senior executives to do business in Taiwan. The executives got off the plane wearing green caps. They conducted the entire day’s business wearing the green caps. Later that evening they returned to their Taiwanese hotel. The hotel manager almost fainted when he saw his US guests wearing green caps. He was laughing his head off. The crest fallen US business men were sheepish when they were told that in Taiwan wearing green hats by men signifies that the wearer’s wife has been unfaithful – unknowingly the US businessmen were going around the town proudly proclaiming that their wives have been unfaithful.

For the typical Taiwanese it made no sense at all. He could understand infidelity but why make a hue and cry about it. The behaviour of the US businessmen had left the Taiwanese stumped and bemused. Read more about colors in marketing at &

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