05 Jun Janel: John Deere’s Iconic Colors
Frederick, Oklahoma – In honor of harvest kickoff this year I thought it’d be fun to share a little fact about John Deere. Have you ever thought about John Deere’s colors and how or why they were chosen? I’ve always thought that the John Deere green and yellow colors are the best ones of the best ones. Both are photogenic colors right along with the colors of harvest. The classic green with yellow wheels is iconic and traditional.
There are several theories as to how and why the colors were chosen. I was once told that Mr. John Deere’s wife chose green for the growing crops and yellow for the harvest ready crops. That makes sense to me and I love that idea! Both colors feel like farm colors and I love seeing John Deere green and yellow out in the field especially in action. This is the theory I have believed for many years.
However, I researched this topic and the first theory I found dates all the way back to 1918 when the first tractors were made and is when Deere & Company began manufacturing tractors with their newly acquired brand, The Waterloo Engine Company. This was one of the company’s first partnerships and the Waterloo Engine Company was already making a green tractor, which may have been the jumping off point for the green and yellow color scheme.
The green tractor worked for them in their market because their competitor at the time was red. So choosing the exact opposite color helped their product stand out to buyers. It also started a funny rumor that their competitor needed the tractors painted red so they could easily be found when they were broke down and sitting out in the field. Obviously, John Deere tractors were green because the company was confident they wouldn’t have that problem! That’d truly be something to be proud of if only it were 100 percent accurate! I wish!
Deere & Company found lots of success in purchasing other companies and improving their product. They brought together so many different brands and were missing a uniform look so they unified all of its products under one color scheme to make their products even more recognizable to customers. Deere & Company was ahead of the times with this idea of branding. Did you know that Deere & Company won a trademark lawsuit in October 2017? The lawsuit was filed to protect use of the iconic green and yellow color combination on agricultural equipment. It was an effort to protect the company’s trademarks and intellectual property. The court ruled that John Deere’s color combination qualified as a “famous” trademark since as early as the 1960s. It was all in part of Deere’s ongoing effort to ensure the public can recognize its equipment and know that if they see green and yellow equipment then it definitely came from Deere and no chance of confusing it with somebody else.
Overall, it seems as if nobody for sure knows the exact answer of whom, how or why the iconic green and yellow color combination was chosen. Mr. John Deere passed away in 1886 long before the invention of the tractor. However, the Deere & Mansur corn planter, which was red and cream, was one of the first implements in the John Deere line to be changed to a green frame and yellow wheel combination sometime between 1870 and 1880. The decision to brand all John Deere equipment green and yellow was finalized in 1910 when John Deere was consolidated and the new company name was Deere & Company. I’ll just settle with the theory that I was told. I like the idea of the colors chosen were green for the growing crops and yellow for the harvest ready crops. I love both colors and the green and yellow combination has become iconic and traditional.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Janel Schemper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JC Schemper cutting wheat in Montana 2018. (Photo by Tricia Schemper.) All of these photos demonstrate the iconic John Deere green and yellow colors.
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat in western Nebraska 2018.
JC Schemper cutting wheat in Montana 2018. (Photo by Tricia Schemper.)
Lonny Schemper harvesting canola in North Dakota 2017.
Janel Schemper harvesting wheat in western Kansas 2017. (Photo by JC Schemper.)
Lonny Schemper harvesting wet corn in Nebraska 2017.
JC Schemper harvesting wheat in Montana 2018. (Photo by Tricia Schemper.)
Schemper Harvesting picking dry corn in Nebraska 2018.