colour branding – how choosing the wrong cultural colour can cost you sales

colour branding - the power of colour in culture.

Given the global village we are now living in and how easy it is to get your products and services in front of a global market, have you stopped to consider the message your choice of colour may be saying to those from different cultures?

The last thing you will want to do is inadvertently offend your target market because of something as simple as choice of colour.  Following are two case studies of how colour choice impacted sales.

case study – green doesn’t sell in china
An article in the Futurist (1997) describes just what can happen when a business is unaware of the connection between colour and their target market.  They describe how a US company launched their chewing gum into the Chinese market using a green wrapper. Noticing poor sales, they switched to a pink wrapper and sales increased.  According to the Futurist article this was because green is a sacred colour in China. They concluded “a product with the wrong color may not only fail in a particular country, it may even offend entire cultures.”

case study – black is stylish in Japan yet spells death in india
A Japanese scooter manufacturer successfully sold black scooters to their home market as consumers saw black as being stylish and sophisticated. However when they tried to sell them in India they received a negative reaction because in Indian culture black is associated with death.  Sales increased after other colours were introduced.

Even though the psychological affects of colour is universal, it is also important to be aware of the effects that *colour symbolism can have on your target market. You may, without realising it, be sending a completely different message. The last thing you want to do is alienate your target market and lose sales.

*each culture has its own unique conditioned conscious associations to colour.

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