We’ve all heard about the Green Revolution and Green Tech, but what role does green (as a color group) play in the psychology of branding and marketing?
Green’s impact and symbolism
As a color group, the greens are associated perhaps most obviously with plants, nature and the environment. On a more subtle level, green is commonly associated with health, balance and refreshment. And at least in the U.S.— it’s associated with money.
In 2003 Joe Hallock’s study of color, perception, and attitudes went further, looking at a range of qualifiers such as trust, security, speed, quality, frugality, reliability, courage, fear and fun. Hallock found green scoring its best in the categories of security and trust, moderately well in quality, and worst in speed and fear. When age was considered as the main variable, green received its best scores among the youngest respondents (<18 years old), with progressively diminishing results in each successively older bracket. So, going by Hallock’s findings, it may be said that green also favors a younger market in terms of positive emotional response.
What successful brands use green logos effectively?
British Petroleum. In response to consistently poor safety ratings, England’s British Petroleum decided in 2001 to repackage itself as an environmentally friendly energy company, “Beyond Petroleum.” Part of the rebranding was replacement of the green and yellow BP shield logo with a “flower” or “green sunburst” symbol using a similar green and yellow scheme. While this was among the decade’s more profoundly ambitious rebrandings, its effectiveness was undercut by the massive Deepwater Horizon spill that dumped over 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a three-month period in the summer of 2010. Nonetheless, the green flower-sunburst continues to adorn BP facilities, equipment, and retailers worldwide.
Whole Foods Markets. Whole Foods is one of the strongest natural foods retailers in the U.S. and prides itself on organic produce, hormone-free meats and the absence of chemical additives in its store brands. Green therefore seems quite literally a “natural” choice for their brand—emphasizing not only the freshness of its produce and its commitment to sustainable agriculture, but also the trust and security shoppers should place in Whole Foods products. You really don’t get much greener than that.
Monster Energy Drinks. Monster went with something a little edgier when it introduced its basic energy drink to consumers. Playing off the “creepy” and “Hulk” associations and relying on the youth of its target market, they went with a green “claw scratch” to create the “M” on a black field. The image is powerful, a little sinister, playful and immediately recognizable.
John Deere. So you make lawn equipment and your name is Deere. No surprise that the John Deere brand went with a green field and a yellow deer as an instant brand reinforcer. One needn’t even see the name in print to know “it’s a Deere.”
Is green right for your brand?
Green tends to be a cooler color: an assertive suggestion, rather than a scream. Financial institutions like TD Bank use it to convey the brand’s trustworthiness, while auto makers like Land Rover use it to convey the brand’s preparedness for off-road adventure. If confidence, security, natural ingredients, sustainability or environmental awareness is a key part of your brand’s identity, you may want to make green the central color in your branding.
Designed for interior design company Crown Design Concepts; design by Graphz Real™
The fine print
Remember that color is only one element of your brand’s personality. Context matters. In fact, it’s essential. No one color is going to say everything you want it to say without the proper context. Determining your company’s mission, values and personality will help your designer choose a color that best sets up your brand for success.