Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 384–394 | Cite as

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. BaxterEmail author
  • Jasmina Ilicic
  • Alicia Kulczynski
Original Article


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.


Brand color Priming Brand personality Associations Schema congruity 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacey M. Baxter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jasmina Ilicic
    • 2
  • Alicia Kulczynski
    • 1
  1. 1.Newcastle Business SchoolThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Monash Business SchoolMonash UniversityCaulfield EastAustralia

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