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Determining the best color for your positioning and brand identity

Have you ever wondered why so many large companies have a blue logo?

About 90% of impulse purchases are solely determined by color (source). If you’re now shrugging your shoulders because your B2B product or service isn’t as impulsive, you’re missing the point. Even if the buying process takes longer, color has a significant impact (source) on decision-making. Color plays a crucial role in shaping our perception of a brand.

What effect does your brand’s color have?

Determining color in positioning and brand identity

The model below provides a useful framework for discussing colors in relation to brand identity and positioning.

kleur in positionering en merkidentiteit bepalen

The color and emotion wheel help you determine the most suitable color for your positioning and brand identity. Click on the image to download the high-resolution file. When it comes to positioning and brand identity, the key considerations for choosing a color are:

1. Color usage by key competitors.
2. Positioning concept/desired brand archetype.
3. Implications of color usage by competitors.

Colors evoke emotions

It’s no coincidence that in many markets, the established market leader uses a lot of blue. After all, blue represents trust, strength, and reliability.

Ook in deze markt heb je een purple cow

Ook in deze markt heb je dus een purple cow nodig.

In this market, it would be unwise for a newcomer or a new brand to also choose blue as its primary color. Why? Your main competitors have had years to associate their brand with this color. Your brand, if also blue, will at best be seen as a variation of the same, and why would you want to switch?

In many cases, the best decision will be to deliberately distance yourself (position yourself distinctly) from the colors of your main competitors.

Brand identity and positioning reinforce each other

Our brand must not only stand out but also establish a preferred position in the customer’s mind. How do we ensure that our brand identity and positioning reinforce each other?

Research shows that people have a preference for a brand where the brand and the chosen color align. A few years ago, the brand ING decided to change its course; it aimed to become the preferred bank for the Dutch. It wanted to be a bank that enables people to move forward. The color orange not only fits with the Dutch identity but also resonates with the emotion at the core of their positioning. People now recognize that orange is associated with ING. As a result, ING now receives higher ratings than major competitors such as ABN and Rabo.

Examples of color usage in brand identity

For each color, we will discuss one or more brands where it forms the basis of the brand identity and how this color aligns with the positioning.

Yellow as the primary color in brand identity

Yellow conveys optimism and clarity, as well as warmth. The shade of yellow is more important than other colors; a lighter variant communicates affordability, while a darker variant carries a sense of playfulness.

A good example of the latter is the Caterpillar logo.


Rental company Hertz opts for a lighter shade of yellow in a predominantly price-driven market:



Orange as the primary color in brand identity:

When it comes to orange, we associate terms like friendly, cheerful, and trustworthy. For the Dutch, there’s also a sense of nationalism associated with this color. As mentioned earlier, one of the largest Dutch banks, ING, claims the color orange for this very reason. But what are other brands that prominently feature orange in their brand identity?

kleur oranje merkidentiteit

The ‘Amazon smile’ is executed in orange. The largest online retailer aims to inspire trust, trust that consumers can turn to them for anything. And with success, founder Bezos is now one of the richest people on earth.

oranje kleur merkidentiteit

Harley Davidson also opts for orange in a brand that revolves around freedom. When thinking of this rebellious brand, we envision the open American roads and the feeling of riding a Harley towards the sunset. Who wouldn’t feel joyful about that?

Red as the primary color in brand identity:

Red signifies excitement, youthfulness, and boldness. It doesn’t take much searching to find a brand that fits this description, as almost everyone associates red with the same brand: Coca-Cola.

kleur rood merkidentiteit

The brand remains relentlessly positive and aims to connect with young people and the most beautiful moments in life, whether it’s Christmas or summer, Coca-Cola is there. The slogan for years was ‘Always Coca-Cola,’ but the company is taking it a step further with its experience-oriented positioning.


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    Purple as the primary color in brand identity:

    Purple is strongly associated with blue and has been a royal color for centuries due to the exorbitant costs of producing the dye, which only rulers could afford. But purple, in its various shades, is primarily associated with creativity, wisdom, and imagination.

    kleur paars merkidentiteit

    The Milka logo primarily harnesses the power evoked by this traditional purple and therefore stays closer to the familiar blue. It conveys a sense of old wisdom, a brand that is reliable, one you can trust.

    paarse kleur merkidentiteit

    T-Mobile, with its variant of blue, clearly leans toward the more creative side of the color. The brand sets itself apart from the rest of the market, quite literally, as it has secured exclusive rights to the use of its magenta. The brand aims to appeal to a younger audience and uses the color as a lever to capture and retain attention.

    Blue as the primary color in brand identity:

    Blue is often the color of the market leader in many industries and evokes trust; blue brands are seen as reliable and strong.

    blauwe kleur merkidentiteit

    Price competitor Dell went all out to disrupt the computer market, and they succeeded. The company rapidly climbed to the third-largest market share in a market dominated by IBM (later Lenovo) and HP, both of which also have blue logos, by the way.

    kleur blauw merkidentiteit

    Ford has been one of the largest automobile companies in the world for decades. The brand, with its enormous trucks, embodies the strength and reliability that people associate with the color blue.

    Green as the primary color in brand identity:

    Green represents growth, calmness, and balance. Although the connection with nature is evident, it’s not the primary association that certain brands have with this color.

    kleur groen merkidentiteit

    First, our “own” Heineken. The color green, as the story goes, is associated with high-quality beer. Additionally, Heineken wanted to distinguish its brand from the “brown” competition. The fact that the brand seeks serenity is also evident from the “smiling” e’s in the logo itself, which is reinforced by the color green.

    groene kleur merkidentiteit

    Starbucks positions itself as the “third place,” the spot between home and work where you feel at home. The brand found that sense of calm and balance in the color green, and no matter how much the logo evolved, the color remained.

    If you want to learn more about positioning and how to work on it yourself, read our Positioning page. In addition to in-depth articles, you’ll find dozens of examples and models for every possible positioning challenge.

    Merkelijkheid PinguïnWil je blijven leren over Merkidentiteit?

    Sluit je aan bij 2.250 Marketing professionals en ontvang wekelijks een mail met een nieuw inzicht, artikel of whitepaper.



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