The company has done an excellent job of using design
and designers to communicate this message.With respect
to its identity, red is the color of Target's bulls-eye.
The retailer has also done an excellent job of bringing this
element to life and animating it in a way that is compelling,
tantalizing, fresh and forward. In the same way, Target has
made red fresh and has recast perceptions of this color.
There are three levels at which we perceive color, and it's very
difficult to pull these levels apart. All three work together at once
1. Physiological/subliminal: How our bodies reflexively
respond to color; our subliminal associations of color based
on our first interactions with color in nature that reside in the
2. Cultural: The conventions of color usage throughout time
in specific cultures, and
3. Marketing context: For example, green in
â€œwarm beveragesâ€ means decaf. In cold beverages, such as
sodas, it can be caffeinated (Mountain Dew), or it can be a
Red is associated with the life-force,
and physiologically our pulses quicken when we see it.
People want to eat and drink more in the presence of red
(a fact that companies such as Campbell's Soup know well).
It is the most extroverted color in the color spectrum,
representing vitality, life and energy. In American culture
and in an American marketing context, it represents strength
and leadership. The perceptual set of â€œred brandsâ€ includes
Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Band-Aid, Jell-Oâ€”market leaders all
and representatives of classic, mainstream Americana.
The attributes associated with red (vitality, energy, leadership)
are relevant for Target. The posterized, tongue-in-cheek approach
the company has taken (â€œdon't stop living in the redâ€)
has re-energized the color and evolved its meaningâ€”
in a branding contextâ€”beyond classic Americana to
â€œfun, hip, stylish Americana.â€ Also, when the message is
â€œfun and style for the masses,â€ red is an excellent choice
because it is the defining color of the American mass-market.
Red can be representative of all color
(because it is the most dominant) which is also important with
a style message.In the past, Target has used various colorsâ€”
all green, all orange, or all blue products, for exampleâ€”
in its advertising. As a result, many people perceived that
Target owned â€œcolorâ€ as opposed to one color. This strategy
may have changed.Since humans remember color first in the
hierarchy of visual memory, owning a color affords instant
recognition and distinction among consumers in a highly
saturated, complex and competitive brand landscape. In this
â€œsurvival of the fastestâ€ era, when we're processing more
information than at any other time in human history, it's
important for brands to quickly and symbolically grab our
attention with broad statementsâ€”such as colorâ€”and then
keeps it by creating other symbolic bookmarks,
such as shape, type, and more.
Prior to founding Toniq with Kyla Lange Hart, in 1999,
Cheryl Swanson was senior vice president, Strategic
Services at Wallace Church Associates, a strategic imagery
firm specializing in marketing and design programs for
Fortune 500 packaged goods companies, where she
founded the company's strategic branding practice.
Clients have included Lycos, Kraft Foods, Gillette,
Campbell's Soup, Kellogg's, Cadbury Schweppes,
Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears,
Taylor Made Golf, and Godvia.
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