On two occasions I was recently reminded of the often overlooked power that color can have in destination branding. My friend, Todd Mayfield at Axia, reminded me that when we look at logos, websites, advertising, and other marketing materials the first things that catch our eyes are the colors. He added, “Whether we realize it or not, it happens in a millisecond. Within that millisecond, color is followed by shape and then the content of images. When developing their brand identity, many cities and destinations don’t approach color from the scientific perspective that it deserves.”
Colors have a pivotal role in branding because our brains, and behaviour, are hard-wired to them. They have the power to change our moods and even our brain chemistry. They can instantly trigger myriad thoughts, memories and associations for people, places and events. Colors can cause us to reject products and experiences before we even know what’s on offer. On the other hand, a carefully crafted color pallet can draw us in and create a mood conducive to new messages – and buying.
Supporting this view, Thomson Dawson at Brand Strategy Insider wrote a terrific piece on the importance of color in branding. He wrote, “Effective and comprehensive brand strategy must consider the critical importance of color. It is far more than a simple aesthetic consideration in the tool kit of components that make up brand identity and experience. Color is the very first perception customers will have with your brand, and along with perception comes a whole host of emotional associations.”
He went on to add, “The color of your brand is an essential character in your brand’s story. When choosing a color to represent your brand, you must think far beyond your own personal, subjective preferences.”
My view is that destinations usually don’t take the selection of colors to represent them seriously enough. Too often the personal preferences, whims and dislikes of committee members and executives come into play, rather than what will best define the brand’s personality, emotional benefits, support the positioning, and contribute to increased awareness and customer recall. The importance of selecting the right color pallet should never be underestimated. And it shouldn’t be changed with the publication of each new brochure and website. Nor should it be changed shade by shade by a designer after the initial color pallet has been created and approved. However, it may need to be tweaked over time to keep it fresh.
One city that got its distinctive color pallet right is San Antonio TX. I love the richness of the colors used by the city in support of its “Deep in the Heart” brand. It fits on a strategic level, is distinctive and really connects emotionally.
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