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Heraldry and brand logotypes: 800 years of color combinations

Abstract : Purpose The purpose of this paper is to draw a parallel between color combinations in coats of arms of the twelfth century and color combinations in current brand logotypes of 400 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list. Design/methodology/approach In this work, the frequency of color combinations displayed in medieval coats of arms and in the brand logotypes of the top 400 largest companies in the Forbes list were compared. Findings One of the main findings of this research is the stability of color usage in two visual identity systems – coats of arms and brand logotypes – although 800 years separate them. In these two identification systems, almost the same colors are preferred or rejected. Yet, even though it is regularly argued that color will submerge the consumption world, this research shows that, in the twenty-first century, visual identities of brands are rather less colorful than medieval coats of arms: nowadays, at a global level, half of the logotypes are formed with white combined with red and/or blue. Originality/value By drawing a parallel between two visual identification systems that are coats of arms and logotypes, the results from this study highlight the stability in color usage and color combinations along the centuries. Thus, it seems that modern analysis of color combination practices could greatly benefit from the history and historical evolution of coats of arms. Far from being out of date, the study of coats of arms can provide marketers with interesting insights about the rules and implementation of color combinations when designing logotypes.
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Journal articles
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Contributor : Naïla Louise-Rose <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 12:42:29 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 1:21:07 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02024779, version 1


Olivier Droulers. Heraldry and brand logotypes: 800 years of color combinations. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, EmeraldInsight, 2016, 8 (4), pp.507-523. ⟨halshs-02024779⟩



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