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Color-blind Customers of Today
by Naseem Javed


Think of Blue and what comes to mind is a blue ocean. A blue sky? Sometimes Big Blue, which is IBM. They did, truly acquired a secondary meaning and a legendary position of being recognized as such. After all it was a great army in blue suits pushing forward the towering blue mainframe computers. All this was only just yesterday.

Those days, to be identified by a specific color or even called by that name was a great Corporate Image coup. Today, it seems that all corporate identity firms have clearly run out of unique, powerful names and are now trying using specific colors as a calling device to identify a corporation. Corporate Identity, by a unique color, that is.

“Listen to Orange Every Day”, there is no demand to eat the fruit or drink the juice. Simply, dial and listen. ORANGE is one of the largest telephone players in Europe, which recently painted an entire town of England, in Orange, to make their point. It seems they are all happy and having an Orangy day. Now they are planning to go global with this success but the name could run into serious trademark and languages problems.

Orange is very different in each language and has a different association as a fruit and as a color…a color of yogi in India, and a fruit from Sunkist in America. Trademarks and other domain issues will become a serious challenge.

Dictionary words fail as corporate names, as did PriceWaterhouseCooper when it became MONDAY. While the company was in a state of shock and a laughing stock in the world media it was picked up at a basement bargain price of 3.5 billion by IBM, the big blue. Name MONDAY was dropped. Only a year ago PWC was offered 12 billon by Hewlett Packard. Can a name really add so much damage? Sure.

The colors of the rainbow are not so pretty in the sky.

“What Can BROWN Do For You Today”. BROWN is a new calling device for UPS, the United Parcel Service, which employs 350,000 brown clad personnel, running around in brown trucks. Despite a $45 million campaign BROWN is still struggling to provide a meaningful message to the use of this peculiar name. ‘BROWN makes me happy’


Recently, Pepsi introduced a blue colored soft drink in a Pepsi bottle called PepsiBlue. Maybe as a counter attack to Coke’s Vanilla, a dark colored coke with vanilla flavor. Unfortunately to some, PepsiBlue looks more like Windex or 2000 Flushes.

Marketing of blue fluids has often been associated with sanitation products, even when it comes to mouthwashes, like Clorox and Listerine in Blue, etc. Where is the BLUE Ketchup these days, now that Heinz’s GREEN ketchup is in the kitchen?

Yellow is considered for the soft at heart and the timid, but then there are the useful YELLOW PAGES. Also YELLOW FREIGHT, a gigantic freight company of strong men on the super highways. Call YELLOW, they must be so mellow. Who knows.

Green thoughts are often for money, grass and vegetables. Sometimes, for The GHOSTBUSTERS or THE GREEN PARTY, which is for the environment, and flushed with green money. H&R Block, the tax preparing giant, is now clinging to a green block as their image and their exclusive color. Perhaps they want be recognized as a Green Bloch [sic]. Henry Bloch, correctly picked the name of his company as H&R Block to avoid spelling and pronunciation problems, when appeared as a spokes person with his correct name, caused confusion and to correct the whole thing he simply changed his own name to Block. Well done, Mr. Bloch, The consumer thanks you for that easy spelling.

Use of color as a name or to identify a corporation is far too stretched.

The customer, at large, is somewhat color-blind to these branding tactics. It’s already recovering from the awkward, dumb, and at times, obscene names from the wild branding era of the last bubble. PurpleFrog; PurpleDog; PurpleRhino; all the way to BlueFrog, BlueDog; BlueRhino, etc. etc. These poor animals were subjected to verbal abuse and named in just about every color of the rainbow. Perhaps, this dotcom lesson will end the so-called voodoo branding and possibly avert a strike at the local zoo.

Naming of a corporation is a very serious business and can no longer be left to a color pallet. The customer cannot be motivated to a branding surge by coming across a specific color. Imagine, every time you come in contact with the color brown, wouldn’t you prefer to think of a chocolate bar, rather than calling UPS or hugging one of their delivery guys on the road. Every time you see green do you really think of money, IRS or just grass?

If naming corporations by color is really that important, then perhaps a lot of corporations should simply be called RED; red in embarrassment, blushing or simply for bleeding too much red ink. PINK, if cleared by SEC. and ROSEY, if on the re-bound.

Colors are most important for packaging and logo design, unfortunately they are very few and part of our daily life. Therefore, it’s dumb to imagine that a single color exclusively identifies a specific corporation. Logo designs are the things of the past and in this e-commerce age everyone is forced to TYPE and remember the names with correct spellings, no one really cares about the logos or colors anymore, just the names. Ad agencies are only hurting themselves with this kind of one side painted advice.

Stop the Corporate ID shops from peddling such crafts as they have clearly run out of correct naming and corporate image expertise for this global-cyber-economy. Look for professionally executed naming methodologies and search for master naming architects … there is no shortage of unique powerful global names, what is short is the naming expertise. It’s time to leave the pretty rainbows in the sky, alone.


The Author

Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is recognized as a world authority on image positioning and global naming complexities. He is currently helping corporations on ICANN’s new gTLD cyber-platforms and lecturing about new nomenclature frontiers and global cyber-branding.
Contact: Naseem Javed | . Visit .

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