If Your Product Sucks, Your Red Logo Won’t Matter.

It seems that every few months I see blog posts, infographics, tweets and pins on the psychology of color — more specifically, the emotion that a company’s logo color elicits — and I can’t take it anymore.

Marketing bloggers, graphic designers and entrepreneur-focused websites all opine on the importance of the color that’s selected when creating a company logo. They advise start-ups that it’s a key component of their launch strategy and to think long and hard about the kind of feelings that they would like their brand to elicit.

Marketing consulting firms also include in their posts a call to action, recommending that these start-ups contact them for an exhaustive brand analysis and logo discussion, which will ultimately cost many thousands of dollars. Money most start-ups don’t have.

A study, titled “Brand Personality: Consumer’s Perceptions of Color Used in Brand Logos,” conducted by Jessica Ridgway and published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology & Education, revealed the different emotions that logo colors elicit.

  • Blue: Trustworthy, warm, happy, energetic, playful
  • Green: Healthy, protective, passionate, dynamic, exciting
  • Pink: Fun, trustworthy, passionate, prestigious, reliable
  • Red: Passionate, justice, secure, energetic, stable
  • Yellow: Energetic, trustworthy, secure, healthy, protective
  • Purple: Playful, secure, justice, stable, fun

The Big Elephant In The Room.

I don’t know about you but, as I mentioned, I’ve had it with all of this and am here to reveal the big elephant in the room that everyone seems to keep ignoring. THE IMPRESSION A CUSTOMER HAS OF YOUR COMPANY DOESN’T BEGIN AND END WITH YOUR LOGO COLOR. (Yes, I’m shouting.)

What’s the true value that your company brings to your customers? That’s what you need to focus on. If your product doesn’t work or you provide lousy customer service, the fact that you were trying to express playfulness with your purple logo doesn’t mean anything.

Blockbuster Video’s logo was blue and yellow. Circuit City was red. Eastern Airlines was blue. Woolworth’s was red. Did the color of their logos provoke such a love for these companies that they continue to thrive today? No. They’re gone. All for different reasons of course. Some for failing to innovate. Some for poor customer service. Companies cease to exist for a wide variety of reasons — none of which is because of their logo color.

You Think You Need To Build A Brand?

These blog posts I mentioned often suggest that the logo color is the first step in building your brand and many start-ups include it as a major hurdle to overcome on their top 10 list of things to do as they’re getting their business off the ground.

Those companies that think they’re going to build a brand on the back of their logo colors are mistaken. Neither corporate management teams nor Madison Avenue-style marketing agencies like those portrayed on Mad Men can create brands.

Your brand, if your company is successful enough to become one, is built by your customers. It’s the shared reaction of your customers to the collective value that you provide through your products and services, customer satisfaction, support and all other aspects of your business. Branding is a positive emotional response that will not last if the true value to your customer isn’t felt by them.

A few years back, while heading up the marketing department at the IT services division of a Fortune 500 company, I was part of a team conducting focus groups with business and technology executives on corporate positioning. We were fortunate to be working with branding and design firm Sterling Brands and its strategy group president, Austin McGhie, who wrote a book titled Brand Is A Four Letter Word. It’s a great read and a very insightful look into what it truly takes to build a brand — having nothing to do with logo colors.

Yes, your logo may subconsciously say something about your company, as can the fonts you choose and any associated images but, at the end of the day, your logo alone won’t help your business grow and thrive. As Austin put it, “You can only sell sizzle for so long. Sooner or later a person’s got to sit down and eat.”

Your logo color is the sizzle. Your products and services, your employees and how you treat your customers is the steak, or the pizza or whatever you like. Don’t get so caught up in the sizzle that you forget the steak.

Thank you for taking time to read this post. If you liked, it please share it so others can also check it out.

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The requisite bio: Lisa Masiello is an award winning tech industry marketing strategist, IT channel evangelist and president and founder of TECHmarc Labs. She writes on B2B growth, channel management, marketing strategy, customer experience, and CMO success.

(A version of this post first appeared on the TECHmarc Labs website.)