Why is orange such a popular marketing color?
January 20, 2008 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Anybody know why bright orange is such a popular color when it comes to branding or advertising products?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

It is a big "pop" color to attract your eye. Even though they may end up buying the blue or black sweater, the orange caught your eye to the table.
posted by k8t at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2008

Bright orange is one of the most visible colors and probably the one most likely to catch your eye; remember that they make life jackets and hunting vests out of bright orange. Whether the color immediately catches your eye because we associate it with "LOOK - IMPORTANT" things like life jackets or we use them for life jackets because it immediately catches your eye is probably irrelevant to the question at hand.
posted by Justinian at 3:50 PM on January 20, 2008

Safety Orange. Note that the example pictured is an EasyJet airplane with the logo in, yes, bright safety orange.

The article notes that one reason orange is often used is that it contrasts so well against blue sky, orange being the complementary contrast to blue.
posted by Justinian at 3:54 PM on January 20, 2008

Because nothing rhymes with it?
posted by davejay at 4:03 PM on January 20, 2008

And because it's the current fad.
posted by gjc at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2008

A few years ago I was in a meeting where our ad agency was pitching concepts for a new color and layout identity. They were really pitching the orange look very hard. I really liked it because it stood out from the others and especially the competition. The senior executive in the room from my company did not like it because it was too bright and no one else was using orange. So we stayed with blue.

About six months later I started to notice several new logos and corporate identities changing to orange. The most notable was the pre-implosion MCI and then when ATT wireless became Cingular and spent all that money branding itself away from ATT blue (only to come full circle last year and go back to ATT blue, however, orange still plays a dominant role in the color palette, probably for continuity but also since it pops against good old ATT blue). There are psychological elements for every color, but in many cases it comes down to being a fad.

Now I'm noticing more companies starting to incorporate the color green.
posted by birdherder at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2008

I agree with gjc. "Color symbolism" is 99% B.S., a piss-poor simplification of art and psychology meant to make marketing people feel informed.
posted by tmcw at 4:55 PM on January 20, 2008

Because patriotic people of Dutch background will choose the orange product over the competition.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's because it's the color of fire, to which we have a primal, built-in reaction.

posted by bingo at 5:10 PM on January 20, 2008

Orange is the new black.
posted by bendy at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2008

Also 'cause there aren't too many controversies associated with it? Or maybe I'm just ignorant...

posted by Phire at 5:35 PM on January 20, 2008

Print Magazine did a story about the color orange in their May/June 2006 issue. I can't find the entire article online, but here's a summary:

Field Work

As a branding tool for democracy, the color orange had a history that made it especially appropriate for Ukraine's "Orange Revolution." BY ANDRÁS SZANTÓ
posted by kidsleepy at 5:48 PM on January 20, 2008

Every year, Pantone, the Bilderbergers and Elvis get together to choose the new year's colors.

The big pop (stand out) colors seem to be on the opposite end of the color wheel from the big color.*

* note that this is pure speculation on my part, but it makes sense to me. If the world is blue, orange will be that much more striking.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:53 PM on January 20, 2008

Best answer: further googling revealed this excerpt from "The Color of Revolution" by Andras Szanto:

'As far back as anyone can remember, orange was the 'look at me' color, found on road signs and heavy industrial equipment. Orange and plastic, it must be said, were made for each other. But the color embodied a Zen-like transcendence that also endeared it to the avant-garde. From A Clockwork Orange to Andy Warhol's screen prints . . . using orange was a way of declaring, 'We're modern!' Designers claimed it was the visual equivalent of an exclamation point.

And so it was until the 1990s, when corporations in search of a hipper image gave orange mainstream legitimacy. In 1994, Federal Express abbreviated its name to FedEx and combined orange with offbeat purple for its new look. . . . Orange popped up on Apple computers and redesigned Volkswagen Beetles, then spread like a virus to sneakers, toothbrushes, baby strollers, golf balls, and innumerable Web sites. . . .

Home Depot's orange logo had a utilitarian tint, but . . . it beckoned the tool-belt-toting individualist in every suburban home. Bit by bit, the color of safety morphed into an emblem of ballsy Bobo capitalism. . . .

This triumphant narrative swelled to a crescendo during 17 days in November 2004, when the 'Orange Revolution' erupted on the streets of Kiev, spawning a vast tent city and an orgasm of orange hats, T-shirts, bandannas, scarves, and neckties. Ukrainians wore the color to protest the government's effort to falsify election results and steal the presidential election from opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko.'
posted by kidsleepy at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

kidsleepy- good call.

I just received a copy of my "Illinois Bell/Ameritech/SBC/AT&T" landline bill, and it now has lots of orange. I think orange is now played, the next big color is going to be that shade of dark pink that's almost orange that they use in those colorblind tests.
posted by gjc at 5:56 PM on January 20, 2008

Hmm- and I remember that obnoxious orange was big in the A&F, Old Navy scene back in the 90's. Now those clowns (me) are martini swilling people trying to influence us clowns. (Pure guesswork.)
posted by gjc at 5:58 PM on January 20, 2008

Related story: I used to look after promotional merchandise for a variety of large corporate customers. One of the largest - a bank - went for employee t-shirts in white, aqua and orange because their research indicated that these were "power" colours that would make them stand out in the marketplace. However, its a combination that rarely looks good on people and they eventually switched to basic black on black. Power colours or not, apparently their research failed to take into account basic vanity and the concept that bankers seem to want to look like Darth Vader.
posted by ninazer0 at 6:30 PM on January 20, 2008

> Because nothing rhymes with it?


posted by Mwongozi at 6:36 PM on January 20, 2008

whore minge?

But aqua & orange for clothes? They'd have to be about the worst colours around, in terms of how the reflected light off clothes interacts with peoples' complexions. Some yellows might be worse, but not by much.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:01 PM on January 20, 2008

i don't know why, but i'll tell you that orange looks terrible printed 4-color process. if you're going to make it your company color, better be prepared to spring for the pantone ink.
posted by apostrophe at 7:26 PM on January 20, 2008

Door hinge? Okay, it's two words, but it's pretty close.

Maybe it's because the generation that grew up during Nickelodeon's infancy is now in charge of a lot of marketing departments.. Or maybe not.

I've noticed it's become a trendy color in the sports world also, with more teams incorporating orange in their color schemes, either as the base or as contrast. Some pull it off better than others.

The NBA's Phoenix Suns, who always had purple-with-orange road jerseys, unveiled orange-with-gray alternates in '03 due in part to a corporate tie-in with Home Depot. I guess it's just a cyclical thing, but I'm not sure if we'll ever see powder-blue baseball uniforms again anytime soon.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:16 PM on January 20, 2008

General Foods used orange to package Sanka way back in 1923 because it was a "stand out," attention-getting color. As part of their promotion they gave away orange-handled coffee pots to restaurants and diners for use with Sanka (so servers could tell the difference between the pot with regular coffee and the one with decaf).
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:44 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Good enough for snooty 500 euro scarves, good enough for me?
posted by oxford blue at 10:54 PM on January 20, 2008

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