Business, Finance & Economics

Court says Cadbury can't keep competitors away from its signature purple color

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Credit: Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters
Cadbury's linked their brand with the color purple, wrapping the bars with purple wrappers.

If you're a chocolate lover, you're probably familiar with Cadbury's milk chocolate bars. They're hard to miss in their distinctive purple wrapping.  

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The color purple has been linked with the chocolate for nearly 100 years. For a lot of that time, Cadbury had been trying to keep competitors away from adopting purple for their products. 

But no longer. A UK Court of Appeals has put an end to Cadbury's purple reign. In effect, the court has allowed any company to use the hue. 

It's a significant blow for Cabury, says Martin Lindstrom, author of "Buyology — Truth and Lies About Why We Buy." He says millions of dollars have been spent by the company to link their brand with the color purple, hoping that when consumers see it, they immediately think of Cadbury chocolate.

That, said Lindstrom, is the "perfect outcome for any brand to get to that stage." 

"At a subconscious level, when you're exposed to a color and you suddenly think about a brand, you don't start to think in a rational way," he said. "You sort of feel, 'Hey, I feel a craving for chocolate right now,' and you go straight to action and buy the product."

And there's no way to fight that, he added.

"Basically, what's happening now with this ruling is that they've built free branding for everyone out there... selling chocolate."

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