Roses are red, violets are blue, sophisticated brands have a Tiffany Hue: the effect of iconic brand color priming on brand personality judgments

Stacey M. Baxter, Jasmina Ilicic, Alicia Kulczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Iconic brand color priming is introduced as a cue to consumer perceptions of brand personality. Although previous research has examined generic color meanings (e.g., purple is exciting, gray is passive and dull, and blue is competent), we demonstrate an iconic (widely recognized and well-established) brand color associative priming process. Through three experiments, we show that the personality tied to an iconic brand color can be created by brand managers, learned by consumers, and leveraged by other brands. Study 1 provides evidence that consumers perceived the iconic Cadbury purple, as opposed to a generic purple color, as sincere, aligning with consumer perceptions of the brand. Study 2 shows that exposure to a brand color prime (Apple gray), compared to a generic gray, influences brand personality perceptions (i.e., excitement) for an unknown brand. In Study 3, a schema congruity brand color priming effect is observed, whereby brand color priming enhancement occurs only when a brand color prime is placed in a product category that is congruent. When the brand color prime is incongruent with the product category schema, the priming effect weakens. This research provides evidence that brand personality can be primed, or leveraged, through embedding iconic brand colors within brand communications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-394
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Brand Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Associations
  • Brand color
  • Brand personality
  • Priming
  • Schema congruity

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