06.26.18

What in the blue blazes a trail for branding and marketing?

Companies use certain colors because they evoke certain emotions and responses. But of all the colors in the spectrum, the use of blue has proven time and again to be a shade smarter, especially in the subtlety of selecting shades.

While blue in and of itself sparks positive images of loyalty, trust, honesty, perseverance and devotion, pale blue is more closely associated with creativity, freedom and inspiration. Sky blue with feelings of being calm and helpful. Azure with determination and ambition. Dark blue with knowledge and responsibility. Turquoise with harmony and clarity. Teal with sophistication and trust.

So, when you look at the logos of world leaders in technology (HP, Samsung, NASA, IBM, Intel, AT&T), social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Skype), automotive (VW, Honda, Ford, GM), consumer goods (Lowes, P&G, GE, Oral-B) and finance (PayPal, Allstate, Citibank, Chase, American Express), you quickly see how selecting just the right shade of blue solidifies your customer’s perception—as well as strengthens your company’s brand.

The Blue Ocean Strategy:

Written by two professors from the European Institute of Business Administration, this 2004 book theorized that companies could succeed by creating uncontested market space (Blue Oceans), rather than fighting the competition for dominance (Red Oceans).

Through analytical tools, and concepts such as “value innovation,” the authors proposed that introducing unique offerings into the marketplace (i.e. sailing unchartered waters) not only brought new opportunities for growth and profit, but made competition nonexistent and irrelevant.

Some cool blue examples of this strategy include:

  • Cirque du Soleil: Combining the best of opera, ballet and the circus while eliminating headliners and animals.
  • Southwest Airlines: Offering numerous low-fare options, especially at secondary airports.
  • Home Depot: Providing a wide variety of quality brands at competitive prices, as well as classes for consumers to help with their DIY projects.
  • Curves: Targeted toward women, they combined fitness centers with home exercise, and redefined the market.
  • Starbucks: Boldly entering the saturated market of coffee shops, they offered a new, upscale customer-oriented experience, more menu options and a more highly trained staff.

While the authors have taken criticism over their methods and research findings, at its worst the Blue Ocean Strategy encouraged companies to “think outside the water” by taking an existing framework and, with a risky idea, creating a new and successful niche market.

Package Perfect: Unwrapping the mystique of the Tiffany Box

The epitome of simplicity and elegance, the Tiffany and Co. Box is easily one of the most recognized and desirable packages on earth.

Founded by Charles Tiffany and John Young in 1837 as a “stationery and fancy goods emporium,” Tiffany was among the first in the country to put price tags on items, as well as accept cash only and not payments on credit.

In the 1880s, when Charles took control of the company and shifted its emphasize to jewelry, two momentous innovations occurred that altered his company forever.

The first was the Tiffany Setting. Prior to 1886, diamond rings were set in a bezel, which meant that only the crown, or top of the jewel, was visible. Tiffany, along with his company gemologists, created a ring with a raised claw—which showcased the entire stone from virtually every angle—and forever raised the status and style of diamond rings.

The second innovation was the simple notion that a gift of exquisite jewelry deserved to be presented in an equally exquisite box.

The backstory of how Mr. Tiffany came to choose this robin-egg shade of blue is a bit blurry. Many believe it was because turquoise jewelry was extremely popular at the time. But whatever his reasoning, the results were crystal clear: He had created packaging nearly as precious as the gift inside.

So precious, in fact, that the color Tiffany Blue, the box’s physical design, the white ribbon tied around the box AND the phrase Tiffany Blue Box have all been trademarked, thus making it commercially unavailable anywhere else on earth.

The landmark gift store and gift box inspired a book, a movie based on the book, and a song based on the movie.

During filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, the owners hired more than forty armed guards and posted them inside the store to ensure no boxes were stolen. Brilliant.

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