Color. Big Deal.

21 Oct 2004|Jennifer Grey

Red is my favorite color. I just adopted a twelve year old boy. We’ve been trading all sorts of factoids about what we like and what we don’t. Alex is from Russia and speaks little English, so we’re using gestures, expressions and limited vocabulary. On the plane ride home, we found each of us considers red our favorite color.

Instant relaxation. Instant communication. A growing bond. We both like red. Things would be okay.

Cheskin just launched the first study in a series exploring global visual language and branding. We chose color as the first topic. Some were skeptical. What more can be said about color? Who cares about color? Is color worth spending time on? Well, when you talk to close to 13,000 people in 17 different countries about color, you realize there’s a whole lot of stuff to consider. While mine and Alex’ world got smaller when we talked color, our survey got me thinking about color in a big, big way.

What brands are doing it right? Why does one color work in the U.S., but doesn’t play well in Korea? What about Asian countries, anyway? Does Japan think the same way about color as China? Do Eastern Europeans tend to think the same way? Who considers American Express green and who considers it blue?

Our study rocks. It’s fun. It’s colorful (but of course). It also has laid the groundwork for insights about brands — where can brands stretch? have some gone too far? are some leaving golden (no pun intended) opportunities on the table?

We started the series pondering the nature of a global visual language. We used color as our platform. Thanks to MSI-ITM, we were able to to query people at all different ages, both genders, in 17 countries. Expansive. Information that can’t be ignored. Fun. There may be a global visual language emerging, but we darn well better pay attention to the differences that are surfacing before we make assumptions about how people think (for example) about who they buy a phone from, what color they want it to be, and how quickly world events may shape or change opinions and choices.

In our quest to understand the nature of shared visual languages, we next look at how brands can stretch and in how many directions, and how viable non-celebrity spokespeople are of varying cultural backgrounds.

Read the first report. The next in the series of studies will hit around mid November.

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