Sep 15, 2017

Why Millennial pink is not the answer

Color theory

Half a block away from our office in NY a new millennial mecca has opened. The place feels, tastes and visually screams millennial. It calls out to the hipster pilgrims and eternal youth seekers all across New York. The café opened this past June and the crowds started queueing almost instantly. The line hasn’t got any shorter since.

Being attractive to millennials is one of the main subjects that keeps our clients awake at night. And as youth spending power increases, marketers sharpen their thinking and find clever ways to attract them. Strategies vary from content production, product development, media presence, PR or the launch of a new brand.

In terms of graphic codes, Millennial Pink is in vogue. The motto “Millennial pink sells” has replaced the “sex sells” in a trendier way. This washed tone of pink has gained momentum and gone mainstream. You can find that shade of pink in almost every category of product: chocolate, sneakers, cosmetics, water, underwear, electronics…you name it.

Color, since the beginning of commercial branding in the late 1800s has always been a key design element. Color has helped identify brands with a story, a feeling, a sensation or with other products in the same category. Creatives have mixed and balanced color together with lettering, naming, iconography and the spirit of time to create irreplaceable icons of consumption.

Every brand wants to be recognized with a color and repetition is what glues a brand with a particular color. Red is synonymous with Coca-cola or Louboutin, robin’s egg blue screams Tiffany & Co., and a certain shade of bright green represents Heineken. Even legacy brands embrace this strategy today. From an indifferent chocolate color to a sharp combination of imperial saffron and a bright royal blue, 163 year old brand, Louis Vuitton’s new packaging declares its uniqueness in a contemporary interpretation of luxury.

Owning a color or set of colors helps a brand gain recognition and build an impression in consumer’s minds. Color can shape spending behavior, making a consumer feel proud of their purchase or visually cueing consumers to pick-up your product instead of the competitors in a supermarket aisle. In this way, color is not about taste or preference but about brand management.

Color goes hand in hand with symbols and tone of voice to communicate your brand purpose and bring your brand story to life. They are all part of a complex system of signs that translate the key message from the heart of the brand to the consumer. And if you want to infuse your brand with meaning and help your consumer navigate the world of options using color, it’s important to define and keep your color pallet consistent.

Choosing the right colors is a key decision that might seem abstract. You could be tempted to use the color in vogue to fit in and be relevant with a target audience, but sustainable brand building requires deeper thinking. It requires figuring out who you are as a brand.

Fashions come and go. Millennial pink might be a great solution for a tactical launch, but just remember that color itself washes away with time. Your brand deserves a long-lasting and colorful life, and a consistent and strategic use of color, along with your existing brand assets, is the best way to ensure emotional resonance and connection with your consumers.

Authored by CBA East Coast Business Director, Esme Gonzalez

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