Yellow is the new blue as Tiffany & Co is introducing a new color scheme as part of the LVMH marketing plan



It started like an April Fool’s joke. A post on the official Instagram account @tiffanyandco announced Tiffany’s new “corporate color”: #TiffanyYellow. It took the internet by storm and garnered nearly 500,000 likes.

Of course, it had to be a joke because no one would dare touch the officially protected robin egg, Tiffany Blue, which is more than a brand icon, but the brand’s sacred cow.

However, it turns out that Tiffany Yellow is actually a new house color for a popup installation in his Beverly Hills store on Rodeo Drive. It went out of the Tiffany Blue color scheme and came in yellow furniture, furnishings, even boxes and bags to showcase a temporary collection of yellow diamond jewelry, including the 130-carat “Tiffany Yellow” diamond.

Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s new Executive Vice President of Communications and Products and son of LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, announced that Tiffany Yellow will receive more stars in select stores in the coming year.

No change could have telegraphed so loudly that Tiffany is now under new management with radically new ideas about what the brand can mean. It’s the first and most prominent step in Tiffany’s LVMH detection.

“LVMH is a great marketing machine and after just six months under new management they are touching what has been the untouchable for the whole story: the Tiffany Blue,” explains Alain Huy, founder of New York AH Luxury Consulting and who worked in a previous life at LVMH for ten years.

“They want to play with this new color for a while to create a buzz, social media presence, and appeal to younger customers who see the brand as outdated and old-fashioned,” he continues. “That’s a good statement from the LVMH playbook. Playing with his color, Tiffany would never have done before. “

It’s not the first time LVMH has dared to play with an iconic brand. Huy recalls that when Marc Jacobs joined Louis Vuitton as Creative Director in 1997, he also re-painted the Louis Vuitton logo, updating the classic brown logo with white, pink, blue, purple and yellow washes.

Huy also salutes new Tiffany CEO Anthony Ledru, who served as Tiffany Senior Vice President North America for two years before joining LVMH in 2015. “Ledru learned what works at Tiffany and, more importantly, what doesn’t. Now he’s coming back and using a new recipe to revive the brand, ”says Huy.

Color expert Leslie Harrington, a PhD in economics and color strategy and executive director of the Color Association, sees a deeper meaning in choosing the bright, bold color canary yellow. “Color is so contextual and has different meanings in its context,” she explains.

For Tiffany’s pop-up installation, the yellow carries a brand-relevant story about yellow diamonds and gold. But it means so much more than just supporting a marketing campaign.

“There were a lot of different colors to choose from, but if you look at the color wheel, this yellow is almost exactly the opposite of blue,” explains Harrington. “It’s a color with maximum visibility, whether in print or online, and maximum shock value. If you want to signal that you are doing something else, you can do just the opposite. ”

And, more than any other Tiffany brand equity, the color change is meant to evoke the most emotional response. “When it comes to shock, color is often the first trigger for the most dramatic reaction. If they had changed the font, who would have noticed, ”she notes.

In addition to the stark contrast to Tiffany Blue, the bright yellow color conveys life, vitality, optimism and hope after the pandemic cloud that the world was under last year.

“It’s about capturing the zest for life and the future potential of the brand instead of preserving the status quo, tradition and the past,” says Dr. Martina Olbert, founder of Meaning.Global and a global authority on brand importance.

And while it feels right to be connected to the current marketing campaign for the time being, she warns against throwing the baby out figuratively with the bathtub.

“The characteristic color Tiffany Blue is the central symbolic element of the Tiffany brand, which is as unmistakable as the golden arches of McDonald’s or the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle. It is not advisable to replace a central, distinctive branded asset with another generic asset just because it is trending or trending, ”she continues.

And Olbert gives one more word of warning. The Tiffany yellow that plays so well in the west may not have the same positive associations in the east, especially China, as it learned after an in-depth cultural study for a prominent yellow brand in China.

“In China, yellow is a ‘forbidden color’ because in ancient China it was the emperor’s color that only the emperor could wear. Therefore, to this day, people have an ambivalent relationship with it and instinctively shy away from identifying with it, ”she explains. Additionally, yellow is a color that represents pornography in China, another meaning that Tiffany is signaling for caution in expanding her new yellow image to China.

“I understand the need for a brand refresh as Tiffany is now a flagship brand in the LVMH global portfolio, but replacing a key long-term asset with a trendy short-term appeal is not a good way to maintain brand value. Strategy should always take precedence over tactics. Yellow is a good step for a campaign and increasing the global engagement rate with younger audiences, but not a good step for long-term branding, ”she warns.

More specifically, however, the strategy is to announce that LVMH is the new sheriff in town and understand that the Tiffany brand is worth a lot more than just the blue color of the iconic robin, an asset that Tiffany has relied on for too long, to carry all the weight of the brand.

It’s a new day for Tiffany & Co, and I can’t wait to see the next round of changes the LVMH management team brings.


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