Customers of Today
Think of Blue and what comes to mind is a blue
A blue sky?
Sometimes Big Blue, which is IBM.
They did truly acquire 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.
Out of Names Ö Or Out of Imagination
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 language 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
A Perfectly Good Day Became
Dictionary words fail as corporate
names, as did PricewaterhouseCoopers when it became MONDAY (See
Dangerously Within the Julian Calendar".) While the company was
in a state of shock and a laughingstock in the world media, it was
picked up at a basement bargain price of $3.5 billion by IBM. The
Big Blue. The name MONDAY was dropped. Only a year ago PWC was
offered $12 billon by Hewlett Packard. Can a name really add so much
The colors of the rainbow are not so pretty as
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.' Really?
Pepsi's Version of
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 superhighways. Call
YELLOW, they must be so mellow. Who knows?
are often for money, grass, and vegetables. And sometimes for The
GHOSTBUSTERS or THE GREEN PARTY, which is for the environment and
flushed with green money.
a Green Blochhead
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 he
appeared as a spokesperson, using his correct name caused confusion.
To correct the whole thing, he simply changed his company's name to
Block. Well done, Mr. Bloch. The consumer thanks you for that easy
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, already recovering from the
awkward, dumb, and, at times, obscene names from the wild branding
era of the last dotcom 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 Is More
Serious Than a First-Grader's Box of Crayolas
of a corporation is a very serious business and can no longer be
left to a color palette. 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?
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 ROSY, if on the rebound.
Campaign to 'Save the Colors'
Colors are most
important for packaging and logo design. Unfortunately they are a
limited few and part of our daily life. Therefore, it's dumb to
imagine that a single color exclusively identifies a specific
Logos and big color schemes are the things of
the past today. In this e-commerce age, everyone is forced to TYPE
and to remember the names with absolutely correct spellings; no one
really cares about the logos or colors anymore, just the names. Ad
agencies are only hurting themselves with their old-fashioned
one-side-painted advice. They must reconverge and regroup their
In summary, the Corporate ID shops should stop
peddling such tacky crafts. Ask them how and why they have run out
of naming ideas. Look for professionally executed naming
methodologies and search for "masters of naming" architects. There
is no shortage of unique, powerful, global names; what is short is
the naming expertise.
The time has come to leave the pretty
rainbows in the sky alone.
Naseem Javed, is a syndicated
columnist, author of Naming for Power, Founder of ABC
Namebank International, world-renowned lecturer, and an expert on
corporate naming issues. Naseem is a committed follower of sobriety
in corporate communication strategies and a harsh critic of the
"beer commercial" mentality on corporate naming and the influence of
voodoo branding on our culture. A hilarious speaker, he has
a deadly message on why Corporate Image USA is on fire.