Category Archives: Color in Branding

Fully integrated brand for UPS includes the color

Several days ago I remarked in a blog post entitled “Brand vs Bland” how I thought UPS had fashioned a great brand based upon the concept of “logistics”, and how they now “own” that term.

Thinking a little further about their turn-around from “What can Brown do for You?”, it occurred to me that if you’re going to be logistic, there’s no better color for you than brown. Logistics is no-nonsense. Logistics comes from the military, and at least the US Army still wears brown. Brown is a “working” color.

According to those who study color psychology, brown denotes honesty, modesty and reliability.

So all along UPS had picked the right color, and I’m glad they ignored me and other critics for making such a big deal of their corporate color in the previous (still innocuous) What can Brown do for You? campaign.

The UPS as the logistics brand is, indeed fully integrated. There are no disconnects to turn prospects into scoffers.

Interactive Web Branding – three examples

Interactive branding on the web by branding consultants seems to be catching on. And what’s more, there are examples of well-conceived and well-executed web sites where their interactivity is more than just a designer’s gimmick.

That’s the way it used to be. You’d click on a link for one of the design-oriented branding companies and, after a while, the “splash” page would appear with a message to “be patient” while the artwork loads. Then there would be a Flash segment or an animated gif that was neat-looking but pointless. Several minutes and a dose of frustration later you’d have to click on the next link to get to the meat of the brander’s message.

But here are three examples where branding companies have used interactive components to good utility.

My first example is the website for the Brand Identity Guru. It has a lot of gif and flash animation going on, but more functionally, they have provided a game to assess the vitality of your brand. “Is your brand vital?” is an interactive version of “Hangman”. You answer each question as it’s presented and “build” the gallows and its victim for wrong answers. The point is after you find your brand inadequate, you are given the phone number or contact form to contact Brand Identity Guru. They also provide another interactive Brand Strength Test which will also lead you to the last screen: contact us.

Chatwick Communications also provides a quiz format to involve users. They have a Branding IQ test which points out, as you go through each of some 10-12 questions, branding is a vital function in which you are not as expert as you thought you were. Yes, there’s a way to then contact them for help.

My final example is not a survey. It’s a table of branding terms and definitions laid out to simulate the periodic table of elements. The table was created by Kolbrener USA. Through the definitions and color coding, terms are grouped together logically. The definitions appear as you “mouse over” each cell. After a while visitors get the impression that branding is an integral process involving many elements. It’s well done and functional.

Now you could go to my web site and find a lot of valuable information but no interactivity (except downloading). That site,, was designed for a slower generation of internet access. But I think it’s time for me to update the site concept and introduce functional interactivity.

Just as soon as I can spare a minute. :0)

Martin Jelsema

Think networks, not markets, when building a power brand

From a branding perspective, I’ve come to appreciate a potent comment by Scott Degraffenreid, author of Embracing the Nude Model – The Art and Science of Referral Marketing. In a conversation several months ago, he suggested we think about networks rather than markets.

No one says, “I’m a member of the market for pink, hip-hop-toned cell phones”, but they’ll passionately admit to being part of a MySpace community of teen-aged girls who adore Eminem. Networks have common interests and might even have an agenda. They are populated by like-minded and like-motivated individuals. Some “reside” on the Internet and some are locally connected.So our goal in branding and marketing is to become part of selected, relevant networks. Don’t try to “manage” those networks or even manipulate them. Just relate in positive ways. Contribute meaningfully to them. Support them in their common quests to achieve whatever the network represents.

Once members “resonate” with you, once they see your goals are their goals, you build trust, and for some, an obligation to do business with you.

For larger companies with national or global distribution and traditional infrastructures, this will be a significant paradigm shift; one that most will not make even if they so desired. Too much baggage. Too many “old school” practitioners. Too few visionaries.

But small organizations, particularly those oriented to local markets, can surely benefit from thinking in terms of networks. Individual entrepreneurs and franchise operators could certainly embrace marketing to networks.

Here’s an example. If I were a dry cleaner with shops throughout a metro area, I might approach schools about helping to raise money for band uniforms or to finance a bowl trip. If I both contributed to those funds and made my shops collection centers, I’d gain recognition and appreciation. I might even clean uniforms for half-price and clean flags and banners for free. I’d not only gain appreciation from band members and their families, I’d probably get their regular cleaning business as well.

The idea of branding on the Internet takes on greater significance if you wish to explore Web2 and the implications for social networking. Here the possibilities become almost limitless. I’ll be blogging about this phenomenon and how it could affect your branding process in the coming weeks.

Martin Jelsema


Branding on the Internet

I’ve blogged about how direct response marketers often disdain branding, believing it is not necessary.

To them, the offer is king. Make an enticing offer and back it up with benefits, testimonials bonuses and a great guarantee. Then get that package into the hands of a targeted list of known buyers of similar products and you have the making of a direct response empire.

Thousands of folks are attempting this very formula on the Internet today, and a few are making a darn good living with it. There’s one more aspect to the business model. It’s called the “back end”. That’s where they attempt to sell their first-time customers more related stuff as often as you can. That usually means until the customer get sick and tired of more offers hyping more mediocre ebooks and study courses and they cancel their email association with the marketer.

As a somewhat skeptical student of their methods, I’ve been deluged with email notices, newsletters, RRS feeds and “viral” give-aways promoting these products. And though almost to a person they will tell you they are building relationships with their customers, these “marketers” are really only selling whatever they believe they can foist upon their customer base before those customers become non-customers.

Their concept of building relationships is starting their email with…”Hi Martin, I hope your day is going well. I think the offer below will double your income in a month. Learn the secrets and earn big bucks with this new…” Gag!

But I think things are changing.

Several Internet marketing “gurus” seem to have retrenched and have reconsidered the value of branding as a tool for building and maintaining relationships.

Rich Schefren, one of the most astute Internet coaches around, has been preaching for over a year that Internet marketers need to quit being opportunists. If an Internet marketer is to be more than a “freelance gunslinger”, he/she must build a business that stands for something their customers desire. And branding is one of the major tools to do that through recognition of market needs and desires, company core values attuned to those desires, and a desire and presentation that reflect both. An on-line brand needs to be as strong, as consistent, as unique as a brand for a glass-and-mortar business. 

Now another voice is being heard. Ben Mack, a veteran brand planner with several large ad agencies, has written Think Two Products Ahead. Though not primarily directed at Internet marketers, he launched the book to Internet marketers using some of their favorite devices and methods. Ben deplores the lack of appreciation of branding by small companies. He advocates determining what he calls “brand essence”, which is similar to the “intersection” of “company strengths” and “what customers value” presented by LePla and Parker in their really practical book, Integrated Branding.

Ben describes a process that small businesses, including Internet marketers, can use to develop a brand. It’s practical and fairly easy for a business person to do because Ben has made it his goal to “take the mystery out of branding”.

So for those Internet marketers reading this blog, I suggest paying some attention to establishing long-ranging relationships with your customers through the simple idea of matching your core competencies with customer needs and desires, and do it consistently through branding.

Martin Jelsema