Fiskars is the world’s No. 1 scissors brand. Visit its website and you would notice that the landing page features not the picture of its scissors, but just that of its handles – Orange handles, to be precise. Why?
It’s because Fiskars as a brand is synonymous with its flagship product: The Orange-Handled Scissors™ (yes, they really did trademark this name!). Known for its quality and precision the world over, this particular type of scissors has sold over 1 billion since 1967. What is interesting is that these scissors have become so popular that the company has actually registered its trademark Orange color by the name Fiskars Orange®.
(Image Source: Fiskers PDF – The DNA Of a Design)
Today it is one of the most recognized (and imitated) color for a pair of scissors across the world. So much for a color, you’d think?
On April 1, 2012, Seth Godin (author of the best seller: Purple Cow) wrote a blog post announcing that he would henceforth start filing lawsuits against people that use the color purple! He stated that his “lawyers were able to trademark the terms Purple® and Purple Cow®, and beyond that, to get a design patent on the idea of using Purple® in the marketing of a product”. Of course it was an April Fools joke. Interestingly, exactly 6 months after this blog post, this has actually become a reality. Only, it’s not Seth Godin this time. It’s the world’s 2nd largest confectionary brand – Cadbury.
The brand, which had used the purple for more than 90 years, has apparently been locked in a legal battle with Nestlé for the last four years over the use of this color. Nestlé’s appeal was overturned on October 1st 2012 in the UK High Court, where it was ruled that the color has been distinctive of Cadbury for its milk chocolate since 1914. Thereby Cadbury retains the exclusive use of Pantone 2865C purple. (Interestingly, a 2008 book on Cadbury by John Bradley was named: Cadbury’s Purple Reign)
So much for a color, you’d think?
Not till you realize that Purple as a color is associated with royalty, luxury, sophistication, creativity, mystery, and magic. Moreover, by some studies, Purple has been found to be evocative of ‘desire’ and proven to be a good choice for feminine design. No wonder then, Mondelez International – the snacks division of Kraft Foods uses purple as its signature color. (Milka, another major chocolate brand from Mondelez also comes in purple!)
Evidently, Color plays a very important role in a brand’s subliminal messaging and thereby heavily influences its consumers’ perceptions. So major brands significantly investing in owning colors, for all they are worth, has become a common phenomenon.
Luxury Brands are no exception too. For eg, the distinctive “Tiffany blue color” is protected as a color trademark by Tiffany & Co in a number of countries globally. Befitting its luxury credentials, the color is so exclusive that it is produced as a private custom color by Pantone, with PMS number 1837, the number derived from the year of Tiffany’s foundation.
Today it has come to exude the material symbolism of romance and evokes the emotions of care and pampering. In many ways it is associated with all things exclusive and personal – intimately evoking those waves of ‘free spiritedness’ from deep within a women’s heart. May be that explains why a number of luxury brands try their hand at using this iconic color in their branding.
Can you think of any other distinctive color that is owned by a brand?