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The title question arose at the Business Marketing Association presentation Thursday. It’s usually preceded by, “Why do you wear orange socks?” The answer speaks to three principles important for a creative perspective:

  • Accepting Contradictions – I’m proud my name is “Brown,” but the color has never been prominent in my life, despite saying & hearing the color’s name every day.

With this contradiction (being Brown, but not brown), it’s no wonder I wound up at a company named Yellow whose brand color is orange. The contradiction escaped me for several years. Senior management didn’t care for orange, so there was little evidence of it. And even though I was more oblivious than accepting of this contradiction, the result was the same!

  • Taking Advantage of the Unexpected – When Greg Reid took over as CMO and said, “If our most asked question is why’s the name Yellow if our color’s orange, let’s do something with it,” ORANGE start showing up everywhere. The marketing staff even wore orange socks to our strategic plan presentation.

That triggered a friendly competition with another employee to sport the most orange (socks, shirts, shoes, backpacks, cups, etc.). I became known for wearing orange socks daily. When “Fast Company” profiled us and called me the Cal Ripken, Jr. of orange clothes for the socks, the connection strengthened. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I co-opted the company’s brand as part of my own. ORANGEbecame MY color.

  • Look for Strategic ConnectionsSpeaking on innovation, I researched what orange represents and found it matched my topics: creativity, balance & harmony, strength, enthusiasm, excitement, happiness, healing, vigor, and success. I used orange even more to link my personal brand and key presentation themes. An added bonus? I didn’t have to buy a new non-orange wardrobe & business accessories.

Now when asked about the color mismatch, I simply say, “I’m like an M&Mbrown on the inside, orange on the outside!”

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6 Responses to ““If Your Name Is Brown, Why Is Your Color Orange?””

  1. Marilyn Kvasnok says:

    I love your tagline: “I’m like an M&M – brown on the inside, orange on the outside!” Very clever.

    But why did the company Yellow have the brand color orange? Did I miss something?

    ~Marilyn

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