A Brand's True Colors: Thoughts on Spotify's New Green

Music streaming service Spotify is currently experiencing a backlash against their app icon’s slightly altered shade of green.
With consumers using words such as “angry” “confused” and “crazy” to describe the change, it’s worth taking a closer look at color strategy in branding and design.
Color plays an even larger role in consumers’ immediate perception of a brand than we might think. In “The Impact of Color on Marketing” the researchers note that between 62% and 90% of people’s initial reaction to a brand is based on color alone. The reaction can be an emotional one, eliciting negative responses such as those of the frustrated Spotify listeners.
It’s often assumed that choosing the right color is primarily an aesthetic decision. Have the graphic design team try out a few variations and go with what’s most popular. This “try it and test it” approach was taken to an extreme over at Google, where they tested 41 shades of blue in determining the perfect hue.

Courtesy of kaboompics.com

Yet, research into the psychology of color indicates that due to a vast array of social and cross-cultural factors, there don’t appear to be universally effective colors. Instead, what seems to work best is when a color truly matches the particular brand identity and culture of a company. Start with who you really are as a service or product and work out from there.
UC Berkeley has taken this approach of using color as an expression of something emanating from within. Their site’s palette was consciously developed to “reflect our bold, diverse community,” and colors such as “California Gold,” “Bay Fog,” and “Golden Gate” look like they’ve been chosen not by outside focus groups, but by a team that put a good deal of thought into the culture and environment of the university itself.
In the case of Spotify, it remains to be seen whether that new green accurately reflects the brand. As our director of new business Brian Erickson points out, the currently unpopular color alteration could actually turn out to be a success if the company manages to fully and consistently roll out a coherent rebranding effort that’s in line with the brighter, louder green’s personality. Here’s Brian’s take:
 

A final thought on color strategy.
When Apple changed its striped rainbow logo to the monochrome silver we recognize today, a revolt ensued. A 2003 petition with hundreds of signatures instantly popped up online, reading “Please do not add the ugly look of brushed metal…OR, if you must do so, please give us an easy way to turn off this monstrosity.”
Unswayed by the vitriol, Apple held firm and moved forward with the minimalist color scheme, in keeping with its distinct identity.
It seems to have worked.

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