Find Your Color

May 12, 2020

Think back to your childhood. Remember getting a new 64-count box of Crayola crayons with (at the time) the cutting-edge technology of the built-in sharpener? The perfect tops, bright colors and smell.

First invented in 1903, the original Crayola box contained eight basic hues. Now, there are 120 colors on the Crayola color wheel. The names have evolved and now include colors like “denim,” “screamin’ green,” “dandelion” and “razzle dazzle rose.” There’s research that found the average growth rate of crayon colors was 2.56 percent annually—meaning the number of colors doubles every 28 years. By 2050, children could be coloring with 330 different colored crayons.

No matter how many colors it contains, a new box of crayons symbolizes new challenges and opportunities. Similarly, there are a couple of color analogies in the business world. You may have heard of the blue ocean strategy. This is a marketing theory developed in 2004 by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. In their book, the authors coined the terms red ocean and blue ocean to describe the market universe. The red ocean referred to what exists currently. The blue ocean referred to the potential in what doesn’t exist. Blue ocean strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open a new market space and create new demand.

Another concept that uses a color is the purple cow. This is a marketing concept developed by marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin. He believes companies must build things worth noticing into their products or services. Godin claims that a product that isn’t unique and somehow remarkable—like a purple cow—is unlikely to sell. Purple cow was Godin’s addition to the traditional five P’s of marketing: product, price, place, promotion and people.

When competing in an industry where the product and price doesn’t differ much, standing out can be difficult. Being talked about, noticed, exceptional and interesting will get you some of the way. Purple cows stand out in a world where cows generally are brown, white, black or a combination. The unlikely color commands attention. Just being remarkable isn’t enough. You need to be remarkable in a way that’s meaningful to your customers. Talk to your clients. Learn what they want from you. Also, look at your operation. Understand what you can deliver.

Then, pick your favorite hue and start coloring!

For more on purple cow, check out the article What Is Your Purple Cow?

Jeremy Yohe is ALTA’s vice president of communications. He can be reached at

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