Logo design is a complicated process, that takes into account numerous factors in order to effectively represent an organization. The selection of color within branding is no longer solely about what is visually appealing, but instead what will prompt certain emotions within your intended target market. Numerous scientific studies have analyzed the psychological effects of color, proving that certain shades cause different neurological responses within the brain. The selection of logo design color, therefore, could make or break your branding initiatives, so we have supplied you with some useful insight on selecting the perfect hues to represent your company.
In recent years, monochromatic palettes have become common within corporate logos, as black typically portrays power and sophistication. Its use can demonstrate elegance, formality, or mystery. As monochromatic logos gain popularity, black is becoming more visible as a meaningful and useful colour. On the other hand, Western societies typically associate the color with death. As such, color, in combination with other design elements, will help determine how black is interpreted in the minds of your consumers.
As a best practice, all company press kits should include a black and white version of your branding, for times in which the use of color is not available. As such, it is almost a necessity to have a version of your logo that accommodates black within its design.
Blue is one of the most commonly used colors in corporate logos and for good reason. The color has an association with professionalism and success, making it a great choice for businesses in almost any industry. It also has an effect on the human body, as studies have shown that blue lowers heart rate and improves mental clarity, which in turn allows for a mental association with creativity, sincerity and calmness. This is reflected in its frequent use in the logos for social media; blue ensures that users create content and focus on the website they are browsing. Its use for so many websites and applications has ensured that blue has become a colour associated with the Internet.
Users beware – blue is not a color that occurs often within natural foods, and as such is seen as an unappetizing color. Brands with food-related imagery should limit their use of this color.
Due to its association with nature, green is commonly used when brands want to emphasize a connection with the environment, including vegetarian, organic and eco-friendly merchandise. Part of its association with the environment, aside from being a frequently naturally occurring colour, is the cognitive association green has with balance and serenity. So in addition to indicating a relationship with nature, green typically goes hand-in-hand with well-being, health and calm. This makes green an ideal colour for health and skincare products.
Finally, green’s association with money and growth in Western culture has made it an extremely popular choice within the financial industry.
Orange is the best choice of color for attracting attention to the human eye; its widespread use in street and construction signage is a testament to its attention-grabbing nature. Orange is a combination of yellow and red and has the best qualities of both. It causes the same energy increase as red, however, similarly to yellow, it is associated with joy and optimism. This results in an enthusiastic and excited cognitive association. Because orange is so close in color to red, it is often associated with masculinity, making it a popular choice for male-targeted branding initiatives. It is also a “warm” colour, frequently associated with sunshine and the tropics. If you’re trying to convey heat and excitement with your product, you might consider including orange in your logo.
Interestingly, pink is one of the only warm colors that isn’t associated with appetite increase and masculinity. Historically, pink has had a strong association with femininity, making the color extremely popular in marketing targeted towards women. Depending on the shade, it can have very gentle and calming effect, causing the cognitive association with safety and nurturing. Other shades, however, are more likely to generate associations with love, flirting, and femininity. The gentle and nurturing effects of the colour pink also make it popular in marketing of baby products. Varying shades of pink indicate different demographics; pastel pink is often used to market products intended for infants while brighter pinks are frequently used to market products toward women.
Throughout history, purple has been considered a regal colour; we associate the plush colour with royalty. The connection with royalty has led to a cognitive association of purple with wealth, nobility, and luxury. When a rich, bold purple is used, it is often to indicate something is the finest quality. Purple’s associations have veered slightly from the regal reputation to include other qualities which are tangentially related, such as wisdom, dignity, creativity and independence, especially when used in lighter shades. When pastel purples are used, they are often associated with spirituality and introspection.
Many of the most recognizable logos feature red visuals; this is because red frequently appears in the logos for fast food restaurants and popular food products. Red has been found to stimulate appetite and energy. In fast food, this means people are hungry and they don’t want to sit around long. This is beneficial for fast food companies as it means quicker turner-around; when designing, consider how colour can be used to help business practice in addition to establishing a brand. Red is also frequently used to represent masculine energy and evokes feelings of confidence, determination, and ambition. This is reflected in the use of red in logos for traditionally masculine products, like cars and tires.
White is often not acknowledged as a colour with meaning as it is often assumed as a base colour, however its use is usually quite intentional. The trend of white in logos and advertising is becoming increasingly visible as minimalism gains popularity. The colour is traditionally associated with purity, cleanliness, innocence, and simplicity. We frequently see white in logos for products like soap and clothing. However, white is one of many colours that demonstrates different associations that depend on culture. Many Asian cultures associate white with death and mourning, so limit your use if your target market resides in these areas.
As mentioned above, it is important to imagine your logo as it would exist monochromatically in addition to how you’ve designed it, in case there are situations when your logo cannot be printed in colour. When creating your logo, consider how white could be used in monochromatic versions of your logo.
Similar to orange, yellow is often very bright and frequently captures the eye. This explains its frequent use in road signs. The colour is most frequently associated with happiness and joy, defining yellow as a joyful colour. Its warmth and cheerful associations make it a popular choice for logos, especially for products with children as their key demographic. Yellow, similar to red, is also frequently used in fast food logos and advertisements as its believed to stimulate appetite and increase energy. It’s also popular in interior design as the right shades are meant to improve self-esteem and attitude. Consider using yellow if you would like to indicate positivity!
Check out this infographic by our friends at Towergate Insurance outlining color usage by the top 20 companies in each industry:
Conclusion: Logo Design Color
As with any aspect of branding, psychology can be used to increase the effectiveness of logo design color. Understanding your client base and your branding objectives will help you determine the colors that will be most effective in your logo design.