Brand Strategy / Opinion

Owning colour

Creating association in the consumers’ mind is the prime goal for all of us working in the branding and marketing fields.

Certain words, certain colours, certain designs and even typefaces serve as heuristic short cuts for the consumer to connect them with the overall greater brand meaning. And these things need to be protected at all costs.

Which is why I was caught out by the Premier Inn TV spots…

Colour ownership is important. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Cadbury Gorilla spot (probably one of the best ads of the last decade, in my opinion):

This is concrete proof that Cadbury owns purple. You don’t need to get to the end of the advert for the association to be made.

However, zip forward a few years, and Premier Inn are flaunting their wares on TV.

The problem I had is when I walked in halfway through the advert. I arrived at the exact moment that the guy with the tie leapt backwards onto the bed.

Granted, I wasn’t really paying attention. But my first thought was:

“What’s Cadbury up to now?”

I saw the purple tie and purple thing on the end of the bed and was immediately sent back to the Gorilla drumming.

It’s a shame that this ad isn’t on Youtube (or if it is, I can’t find it). However, the principle holds true for the old Lenny Henry advert if you come into it at 0:16:

(in fact, the bath scene is even worse, because all I can think about is the Spots vs Stripes campaign…)

It must be tough when your brand colours are pretty much the same as those used so successfully by another (even if they’re in a different market).

But in this extraordinarily competitive world of brand and consumer mind share, wouldn’t it be worth trying to develop a colour that you, and you alone, can own?


So - what did you think? Love it? Loathe it? Have something to add? Well, what are you waiting for?

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