Color use in technology marketing: If you don’t use blue, does your marketing suck?

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Vince Bitel

VP of Creative Services

I found out that mine does, and I’m okay with it

colors
Source: Marketo (Click to Enlarge)

Someone recently forwarded me this infographic, and it immediately reminded me of a meeting years ago, when as a young graphic designer I sat across the table from an onerous client. After what I thought was a tough, but successful presentation of concept, he looked me in the eye and said with sharp, annoyed disdain, “You do know what orange means, don’t you? So why would you even consider using it on my brochure?” The room went silent, and the 1,000,000-watt spotlight directed intense heat and light directly onto my red face, everything around me in blackout.

We’ve all been there, right? Accused of being the company’s village idiot by the proverbial person who “knows just enough to be dangerous.” And by dangerous I mean confidently blanketing the conversation with their rudimentary knowledge causing a project to derail, costing time and money, and more importantly, opportunity for the business.

Only blue will do, according to the rule book, err, infographic

In the many years I’ve worked in technology marketing, I’ve come to learn that the only color that’s safe from such attacks is blue. Blue, blue and more blue. Maybe add some gray, but make sure there’s plenty of blue. And be liberal in your use of dark royal blue, but be careful not to take it too dark or too bright. Then we can feel comfortable with our choices, and ourselves, while our brand disappears within the depths of the calm, blue sea of technology marketing.

Don’t take color theory so darn literally

Over-simplified theory is easy to believe, easy to use, easy to defend. But the truth is that personal preferences, experiences, upbringing and cultural differences of your audience negate most of the theory. Choices like using pink to attract technology pros would obviously be a bad move on your part, but once you get beyond the obvious, things get more difficult.

So what should a marketer do?

  • Use colors that support the personality of your brand, not your technology market
  • Be sure your choices differentiate your brand from it’s direct competition
  • Make color choices that add meaning and improve engagement
  • When confronted, clearly define why your choices are strategic for the business
  • There is no genuine rule book, so make good use of your own common sense

You’re no doubt wondering, TechTarget, where’s your blue?

We prefer to call it teal: sometimes, an unusual color falls from the sky into your lap and provides tremendous value. TechTarget owns the color teal in its space, and the differentiation of the color has become a powerful marketing and brand asset.

So what happened after that meeting, years ago? I changed everything to blue, of course.

branding, color usage, color use, technology marketing strategy

2 Responses to “Color use in technology marketing: If you don’t use blue, does your marketing suck?”

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      Yes, a very good point: test, but be careful to interpret the results correctly. Bright red might bring back better results on a call to action, but that doesn’t mean bright red will always bring back better results. Figure out why it did, and use that to inform other color choices.

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