At first, creating a business logo can seem like a pretty straightforward process. However, once you get started, you might discover that it’s a bit more involved than you might expect. Not only do you have to incorporate fonts and graphic elements, but you also have to think about your logo’s color scheme.
Now, logos are not new. In fact, we have been using them for millennia. They have gone from crude paintings on ancient Egyptian pots to design icons that major brands are willing to pay millions of dollars for. The same is true for how they are created – once done by hand and now we have AIs that can create logos. But, no matter how old history and new technologies, one thing has the stayed the same, which is that colors play a huge role in the success of your logo.
The colors you use in your logo are crucial for conveying personality and invoking emotions. So, in this post, we are going to breakdown the meaning of colors and how you can use colors to your advantage.
Understanding the Meaning of Colors
Although color theory can help you understand the abstract meanings behind each color, it helps to see how they look in real life. So, here’s a breakdown of each color option, complete with a real-world example of a logo that uses it.
Red is one of the most intense colors because it has so many connotations. Red is associated with passion, excitement, and danger. Red is instantly noticeable, which is why city and state governments use it for stoplights and signs. It’s also why red cars get pulled over more often than other colors.
For advertising, red can also trigger hunger, so many foodservice businesses use it. Some examples include McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, KFC, and Pizza Hut, but the list is pretty extensive. For non-food-related logos, red can signify power and excitement. Companies like H&M, CNN, and Netflix use red to great effect.
Even red highlights can stand out, especially if you use contrasting colors like blue or black. Overall, red is one of the most dynamic logo colors, which is why it’s so pervasive.
While red triggers hunger and excitement, the color blue is associated with trust, calmness, and resilience. So, many businesses that want to build strong ties with their customers use blue to appeal to their emotions. Some examples include Chase Bank, PayPal, and American Express.
Blue has also become pretty prominent in the tech sector, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, IBM, HP, Dell, and GE all using it to significant effect. In each case, blue helps provide a sense of relief and confidence in consumers.
On another level, blue can be associated with nature since it’s the default color of water and the sky. So, companies that use water or air can utilize blue to strengthen that connection. This is partly why United Airlines and Boeing use blue in their logos.
When it comes to nature, green is pretty much the default, although brown and blue are also pretty standard. Green is also associated with money, which is why companies like H&R Block or Fidelity use it to build that connection.
Green can signify growth and renewal, as well as safety and trust. There’s something so peaceful about seeing green in nature, so brands can capture that feeling in their logos with the same color palette.
Real-world green logos can run the gamut, though, and not all of them have to do with money or nature. Examples include Starbucks, Spotify, Sprite, and Holiday Inn. In some cases, green can make the brand stand out more, while in others, it’s more aligned with the company’s mission statement. For example, Animal Planet, Whole Foods, and Tropicana focus on nature or natural ingredients, so green makes sense.
Because the sun is yellow (from our perspective, at least), the color is associated with brilliance, happiness, and joy. Yellow logos are bright and cheerful, and they can stand out pretty well against a dark backdrop. Yellow works well for food because it conjures images of eggs, cheese, and mustard. So, companies like McDonald’s (again), Subway, Winchell’s, Lay’s, and Denny’s all use yellow.
Yellow is also playful and child-like, so authoritative businesses tend to avoid using it for their logos. Overall, casual brands tend to favor yellow more since it can seem whimsical and upbeat.
Purple is a royal color, so it’s often used to signify bold, classy brands. Purple is also unique and stands out against “plainer” colors like red or blue. Speaking of, since red and blue combine to make purple, brands can add more of one or the other to capture a different feeling.
Some examples of purple logos include Crown Royal, Cadbury Chocolate, Hallmark, Twitch, and Roku. Overall, purple is much less prevalent, so you have to be strategic if you want to use it for your business.
As with green, brown is also associated with nature, giving a sense of earthiness and longevity. However, brown can also be something of a “drab” color, so you might need to be cautious when utilizing it in your logo. Typically, brown works for food, such as coffee and chocolate. So, companies like Cracker Barrel, M&M’s, Gloria Jean’s Coffee, Hershey’s, and Dreyer’s all make the most of brown coloring. For non-food-related businesses, we see brands like UPS, Louis Vuitton, and Ugg.
Color and Brand Personality
When designing a logo, it’s always best to work from the inside out. So, focus on your brand’s core elements, such as your mission statement. What is the first thing you want people to associate with your brand? Some examples of brand personalities include:
- Fun and Clever – You want customers to feel happy when interacting with your business. Colors like yellow, orange, and green can capture that excitement and whimsy.
- Authoritative – Your brand is well-respected within your industry and a leading voice for customers and businesses alike. So, colors like blue, black, and purple can work well.
- Innovative – Are you on the cutting edge of new technology or procedures? Show off your commitment to the future by using colors like white and blue.
Choose Your Brand’s Color Palette
Realistically, your logo and marketing materials will use more than one color, so you need to figure out which hues can blend seamlessly to create a more vibrant brand image. For example, perhaps you may use red and blue in your logo to signify trust and excitement.
You can also use different shades of the same color to build a more comprehensive palette. If your primary color is red, you can go lighter and use pink shades or go darker and use deep reds like burgundy, maroon, and auburn.
When choosing a color palette, you have to consider where you’ll use it, including your logo, website, social media profiles, and other marketing materials. Also, keep in mind that you may add or remove colors as you develop your branding, so don’t feel like you’re locked into one set once you’ve chosen it.
Testing Different Color Schemes
One of the biggest challenges of choosing the right colors for your brand is that you need to convey the right message to your customers. So, while you might like red for your logo, does it trigger the same emotions in your target demographic?
Before making a final decision, it’s best to test out different color palettes to see how it impacts your logo design. You can use the same fonts and graphic elements, but just swap color palettes and see how it looks. Then, show the various logo options to potential customers and gauge their response. You can either ask people which logo they prefer directly, or you can use A/B testing to see which version gets the most engagement.
For example, if you have an email subscriber list, you can send a version to one half of your list and then another version to the other half. From there, pay attention to open and click-through rates to determine which one people prefer. However, you also have to pay attention to other variables between the segments, such as time of day or the language you use in your marketing materials.
As you can see, choosing the right color can affect your logo immensely. So, you should take the time to figure out which hues can deliver the right message to your customers. Overall, you should build your logo as if it’s the only thing people will see and interact with before buying from your brand. If you don’t put that much time and effort into it, why should your customers?