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A Note From Chris
As anyone who knows me will confirm, I love color. For years I have used it in my client's marketing activities to help establish a memorable brand. Our lead article provides insights into how color works its magic as a strong component of visual communications.

We think the McGoogan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center hit a home run with their library baseball cards. Read about them in Promotion Gems.

In Pearls of Wisdom we update last month's article about library license plates. And for readers planning to attend the ALA conference in Chicago, there's an opportunity to have your library brochure made-over by two communications pros.

Look for our next issue June 15th, when our feature article will discuss library slogans and taglines. If you're attending the SLA conference in Toronto next month, stop by booth #1034 and say hello.

Happy reading!

Chris Olson

The Role of Color in Branding

Color and brand are inextricably linked. Think of all the brands that bring a color to mind -- Tiffany’s trademark Robin Egg blue, Starbuck’s green, UPS’ “what can brown do for you?” Each of these brands don’t just use their color -- they own the color.

Color moves us. It sparks memories and can convey emotion. In marketing, color can determine which product a customer selects. A trip to any market or grocery store will confirm what retail merchandisers already know: color is an important component of the memory we carry about a brand and it helps us to select the same product repeatedly. Color becomes a shortcut in the selection process. We look for the orange box. The bright blue bottle. The red can.

Beyond recognition, color can be used to support brand goals and attributes. Take for example, UPS brown. The color represents steadfastness, dependability and simplicity -- all the qualities you want when utilizing a shipping company, right? But would you purchase a box of clothes soap in a dark brown box over a box in a bright yellow box? Our American readers probably would not. It’s important to note that there are psychological meanings attached to colors and these meanings differ across cultures and countries. Incorporating color into your branding strategy is not to be taken lightly, and the more cultures and countries your brand color crosses, the more psychological meanings you will have to consider.

Color in Library Brands
Using color to represent your library brand is an option when logos and graphics are not allowed by your parent organization. This can be the situtation for information services residing within corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies. Establishing a brand without a visual image can be challenging, but by using other aspects of a brand, including color, a library can establish its brand without compromising the integrity of the parent organizational brand.

Some librarians choose the brand color of their organization to represent their information services brand. While that sounds like a logical decision -- the color shows they are part of the organizational team -- it doesn’t help your brand to stand out. Instead, to help employees readily recognize the library brand, we recommend librarians use a color which is unique within the organization -- a color which sets the library and its services apart, not blend into the landscape. One approach is to choose a set of colors which complement the brand color of the parent organization. Doing this will help establish a memorable library brand while permitting the library brand color and the parent organization brand color to have a pleasing visual impact when both colors appear next to each other.

Let’s walk through a quick brand color strategy using eBay as a hypothetical example. What if the eBay corporate library wanted to establish a color brand? The eBay logo has four primary colors in it -- red, blue, yellow and green -- that’s a set of strong, saturated colors. A complementary color branding route for the library might be based in black and white. Being a multinational corporation, however, this brand color scheme won’t work very well for the Asian locations of eBay. While black represents career, knowledge and self-cultivation, it also stands for evil influences and white is a color of mourning. Since many brand color strategies are adjusted for such sensitivities, our hypothetical library at eBay may wish to consider gray as a brand color. In an organization with such saturated colors, gray would stand out and would also accommodate the Asian library locations since gray represents “helpful people.”

Brand Association
Color is frequently used in brand strategies to show an affiliation with a parent organization while also branding a unique service or product. This color branding technique can be complicated since it adds another layer of color considerations. However, when well executed, the strategy can reinforce the main brand and the subbrands at the same time. Take for example, Federal Express. For years the brand colors for Federal Express have been purple and orange. Those two colors are internationally recognized as representing the shipping services of the company. In recent years, the company has expanded its business into new areas including home delivery service, freight, and trade networks. Color now plays multiple roles in the company branding strategy. Color not only brands the company, Federal Express, it also brands and represents the link between the main brand and its other services. Part of their branding strategy has been to apply a color brand palette across company service lines. To review the color brand palette, look at their web site

Notice how each Federal Express service has its own color, combined with the main corporate color of purple. The home delivery service brand colors are purple and green,the freight service is branded with purple and red, and trade networks service is branded with purple and yellow. Library networks and information services with strong product lines can take a page out of the Federal Express color branding book and use color to anchor the core brand with one color and then use a complimentary color palette to show affiliations. The end result can be a cohesive and memorable brand which is flexible, recognizable, and is capable of communicating brand messages and representing the brand.

Brand Color Considerations
Building a brand by using color can be a smart strategy. To achieve the maximum value from your color choice we suggest developing a color plan and doing the following:

1. Make sure the color supports your brand’s attributes. Remember UPS brown? Steadfast, dependable, simple -- these are the attributes of the UPS brand and their color choice of brown reinforces them.

2. Select a color that can be relevant to your primary audiences. Color helps consumers recognize and relate to companies and products -- that’s why the Target Corporation choose red for their archery-style logo, not purple. Red marks the center spot on targets.

3. Maintain the same shade and hue in your brand color. Consistency is key for all brand elements, but particularly in color. All of those brands that seem to own their colors do so because they use the same shade and hue of color without any deviation.

4. Display your brand color to all members of your community, inside and outside the organization. There is no future for your brand unless it has support, and that means getting your brand recognized by everyone. You’ll want to make sure your brand is visible externally as well internally. In other words, don’t confine your brand or its colors to within the library or to only regular customers or users.

5. Ensure that color branding is consistently applied at every turn. Library staff members and others producing marketing materials use brand colors within the brand guidelines. This goes back to consistency. It is extremely important that your brand colors be consistently applied by everyone creating branded items. From the sign maker to the web site administrator, make sure everyone knows how to apply the brand color so it retains its integrity.

6. Make sure all materials and items carry the brand color.
This is the golden rule of branding. Your brand should permeate all components of your marketing endeavors -- web site, collateral, literature, product packaging, etc. It should be obvious that everything comes from the same source -- your information service. The consistent application of color can convey that message.

7. Select colors that are different from the brand colors of your competition. You want to stand out from the competition and make it easy for customers and users to locate and select your library’s services and products. Color branding can help build brand loyalty and repeat customers.

8. Plan a color brand strategy which accommodates the cultures and countries where your information service has a presence. If you are part of a multi-national organization, remember that colors have different meanings in different countries. Make sure your brand colors don’t offend important target customer groups.

There are many books and resources available on color. Here are a couple we find ourselves consulting.

Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color by Leatrice Eiseman

Pantone: Where Color Comes From

Color Matters

One final note. We are frequently asked about color trends and if brand colors ever need to be updated. Every year the color experts who monitor color in merchandising and fashion styles, release color palettes for companies to follow to ensure their products fall within the mainstream color range. While these palettes change annually, there tends to be a stable undercurrent of color which reflects longer term trends. We recommend that brand color palettes follow longer term trends, not annual color fads. Doing so will help prevent brand colors from looking outdated in 5 years.

Treasure Tips
What Is a Webinar Versus a Webcast?
Adding technology to your marketing mix can help extend your library’s reach into your current and potential customer base without you having to deal with the never-ending hair pulling logistics or expense associated with assembling attendees in a meeting room or organizing an event off site. But, by what method should you hold virtual events --- webinar or by webcast? What’s the difference between them?

Webinar Short for web-based seminar, a webinar is a lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. Such an event is interactive allowing information exchange between the presenter and the audience. In most cases, the presenter speaks over a phone line while pointing out information on a screen or the attendees’ individual computer monitors. The audience can respond to the speaker over their own phone lines.

Good events to hold via webinar include those requiring interaction such as training sessions for using digital library services or lectures where the presentation by the speaker includes a question and answer session.

Webcast A webcast broadcasts information in one direction only -- out to the listener. Webcasts are live or delayed audio/visual transmissions similar to traditional television or radio broadcasts. There is no interaction between the speaker or audience members, making sessions with question and answer segments impossible.

Good events for a webcast include pre-recorded lectures, presentations, or a virtual tour of your library or information center.

Tips For A Successful Webinar or Webcast
To plan a webinar or webcast, start by answering the following two questions:

1. What will compel your target audience attend? Make sure your virtual event addresses a problem or question your target market faces. Do they need research assistance? Or do they simply need a little advise on how to use the corporate information center most effectively?

2. When should it be held? We suggest you avoid Mondays and Fridays for such sessions. On Friday, the week is winding down, on Monday it’s revving up. No one wants to attend an event while in either of those operating modes. By aiming towards the middle of the week, you are more likely to catch people when they have a good handle on their schedules and workloads. If you are going global with your event, be sure to keep the time zones of your target audience in mind.

Other points to consider.

-- Avoid making your virtual event into an infomercial. Your webinar or webcast will be more successful if it can be a learning experience because everyone in your audience will be asking the same initial question, “What’s in this for me?”

-- After the webinar or webcast is over, continue communicating with your audience. Because attendees generally register in order to get into virtual events, you have a great contact list to mine for established customers and prospective clients. Not only should an evaluation survey be sent afterwards, other sorts of e-mail follow-up, such as services updates and enhancements or an offer to make the webinar or webcast available on demand, are effective ways to stay visible with attendees.

Whether you decide on a webinar or a webcast, here are two resources to help make yours a success.
> Using Webinars as an Effective Marketing and PR Tool
> How to Host a Successful Webinar

Promotion Gems
Library Baseball Cards
From the McGoogan Library of Medical at the University of Nebraska comes this creative promotion idea. Use the baseball card format to delivery quick and essential facts about your library and its products. Teresa Hartman, Head of Education at the library tells us the idea came to her when her kids brought home baseball cards featuring their school’s police dog. The dog’s picture was on the front and its stats were on the back. As Teresa says, “I figured if a police dog could have his own baseball card, then a library could as well!” And thus, the McGoogan Library baseball cards were born. The cards prove to be great promotion items since they’re so easy to carry around, have a low production cost, are easy to reorder, and can be used in various marketing endeavors.

While it was tempting to create cards for each staff member, Teresa featured the library on the first card with its vital stats (phone numbers, hours, location, web site) on the back and launched it during National Library Week in 2004. Since then two other cards have been developed -- one for distance education and another for consumer health services. Teresa notes the cards fit into display stands ( that are placed around the library, as well as being convenient handouts during meetings and library orientation sessions. Teresa has kindly posted the cards for Marketing Treasures readers to view. Go to .

Although Teresa did not have the ALA baseball program in mind, we think her cards fit very neatly into the baseball promotion idea that we described in our Grand Slam Promo article in the March issue of Marketing Treasures. (Volume 14, Number 3, March 2005)

Pearls of Wisdom
Library Marketing Community
Readers looking for a virtual home to swap ideas and share tips with like-minded colleagues can do so on the library marketing listserv started by Elizabeth Smigielski, Coordinator of Library Marketing at the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library in Louisville, Kentucky. The list has more than 300 members and it’s growing daily. Sign-up at LISTSERV@LISTSERV.LOUISVILLE.EDU and put the following into the message body: SUBSCRIBE MRKTLIB your name

Library Marketing - Thinking Outside the Book
Speaking of virtual homes, we have found a couple of blogs which earned bookmarks in our news readers. First up is the blog of Jill Stover, Undergraduate Services Librarian at the Virginia Commonwealth University library. Her blog, “Library Marketing - Thinking Outside the Book” is a great source for ideas and resources. ( In fact, that’s where we learned about Teresa Hartman and her baseball cards. Teresa also has a blog ( called User Education Resources for Librarians. Look at her May 5th entry with links to two good branding resources. We also monitor the Creative Librarian at Written by Laura Blalock, we frequently find her writing a noteworthy marketing gem. (Today she’s got a link to a source for quick web site design tips).

Library License Plates - More!
Last month we told you about a unique approach for raising money for Texas and New York library programs-- both states now sell license plates extolling the value of libraries. Well, as it turns out there are two more libraries with plates on the highways.

Residents of Indiana can give their neighbors a bright reminder of the importance of reading by picking up a Literacy License Plate. Available through the Indiana Literacy Foundation, proceeds go toward the group’s continued efforts to increase statewide literacy levels. For more information, contact the Indiana Literacy Foundation at

Nevada recently unveiled their “I Love 2 READ” special edition license plate. This accomplishment took some effort because Nevada law requires a minimum of 1,000 interested users before a specialized license plate can be issued. So libraries and Friends of Libraries Groups throughout the state launched a signature drive which exceeded the minimum goal. Funds raised by the plates will support summer reading programs and educational opportunities for librarians throughout Nevada.

So why are libraries turning vehicles into advertising billboards? Nevada State Librarian Sara Jones said it best, “They (the license plates) will generate important revenues while serving as a consistent beacon for literacy.” For additional information about the Nevada plate visit:

Tell Your Friends
We saw this insightful note written by Luke Rosenberger in the lbr blog. He does a nice job of summing up marketing points made by Linda Wallace, Peggy Barber and other guests during the College of DuPage teleconference on library marketing presented in mid-February. One take-away was how word-of-mouth recommendations can play a critical role in a library’s marketing program, especially if librarians take a pro-active approach towards encouraging and focusing recommendations. It’s not difficult and best of all, it’s free. Get the details at under the 2005.05.03 Tuesday entry entitled “Three Little Words.”

“PR Makeover” Event
The Library Administration and Management Association Public Relations and Marketing Section of the American Library Association (ALA) will be holding its first-ever “PR Makeover” during the ALA annual conference in Chicago next month. Libraries of all types are invited to submit library brochures for consideration by Linda Wallace and Peggy Barber, communications consultants, who will discuss how the library brochures might be improved. Details about the event and instructions on how to submit your library’s brochure can be found at The deadline for submissions is June 3rd.

Golden Opportunities
May 25 and 27. Crafting the Library Marketing Message. A hands-on class demonstrating how to develop a simple marketing plan to tell your library’s story effectively. Sponsored by SOLINET full day workshops at University Of South Alabama and Solinet office in Atlanta.

June 4. Branding 101: What it Takes to Build a Library Brand. Learn the basic strategies for creating and managing a library brand (half-day workshop)
June 5. Planning Library Promotion Campaigns. Step through the process of planning a campaign and apply your new knowledge on a promotion planning team. (half-day workshop) June 6. Communicating with Clients: Innovations and Inspiration. (presentation) All led by Chris Olson at the Special Libraries Association conference in Toronto.

June 7. Marketing Intangibles and Tangibles: Selling Information Services. Advice on creating the message and delivery format for selling the value of information services to potential clients. A lunchtime presentation at the Special Libraries Association conference organized by the Marketing Section of the Leadership and Management Divison.

June 10. Marketing Your Virtual Library.
Topics include raising patrons’ awareness of resources, how to promote databases on your web site, and using your resources as a lever to raise the profile of the library within the local institution or community. A full day workshop in New Orleans. Sponsored by SOLINET.

June 10. Marketing Your Virtual Library. A 3 hour session reviews practical ways to make the most of the electronic resources offered by libraries. Presented at the KSUG/VLUG Joint Spring Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky.

June 14. Market Segmentation for the Public Library Sector.
This workshop outlines current best practice in market segmentation and shows the impact on library and information service management practices. Sponsored by CILIP in London.

June 15. Crafting the Library Marketing Message. A hands-on workshop will demonstrate how to develop a simple library marketing plan. Sponsored by OCLC CAPCON in Washington, DC.

June 24. Creating a Library Sales Force: It's Easier Than You Think. Develop library staff into informed and persuasive advocates for their library system. A full day workshop in Chicago at the ALA Conference.

June 26. Swap & Shop: Best of Show– Hit the Right Note with Jazzy PR Materials. PR Makevers. All at the American Library Association annual conference in Chicago.

July 13. Marketing Stream presentations about web site marketing, being proactive, and developing marketing strategies. At the Australian Government Libraries Information Network (AGLIN) Annual Conference in Canberra, Australia.

July 18. Marketing, Schmarketing. Two law firm librarians from Washington DC share their creative marketing ideas during a presentation at the annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) in San Antonio.

July 19. Marketing Communications for the Academic Library Sector. This workshop addresses effective and efficient marketing communications for libraries and information services. Sponsored by CILIP in London.

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Summer is the perfect time to get marketing plans and activities lined up for the Fall.
Chris Olson & Associates helps information professionals with their marketing and communications including service make-overs and brand development, product portfolios and web site marketing strategies. Chris offers more than 20 years of experience for you to tap. She’s is available to discuss your plans and requirements at 410-647-6708. Or send her a note at

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May 2005
Volume 14 Number 5

In This Issue

The Role of Color in Branding
What is? Webinar VS Webcast
Library Baseball Cards
Library Marketing Community
Thinking Outside the Book
Library License Plates - More!
Tell Your Friends
PR Makeover Event
Golden Opportunities

FedEx Company Profile and Colors
Go to Chris Olson & Associates web siteLink to the Marketing Treasures web site