Chapter 1: Color psychology
Among many decisions every company makes along its industrious journey, one of these decisions is choosing the company logo and its colors.
This article explores the use of color within a company logo and the effect each color has. When choosing a color for a company logo, company stakeholders should give the right time and attention to this fundamental decision. At first appearance, this decision seems simple and effortless, but it is actually one of the most influential in order to support the communication strategy of the company and to achieve its branding goals. If you underestimate this important task, you may lose a significant competitive advantage or even worse, make users and potential customers misunderstand your corporate identity and step away from you.
Empirical studies show that the human being is subject to the effects of colors in an incisive manner. The human body is influenced by the nervous system from the sight of a certain color. When color is transmitted through the eye, studies show that the human brain releases a defined quantity of hormones, which cause various moods and emotions to flow into the body. Given the importance of a company theme, a careful analysis of the right color is essential for every aspect of the company such as graphics, logo, font, and so on. The color selection process requires effort and time to understand the best way the company wants to convey a certain message. A color can be perceived in one way by an individual and another way by other person, but what the company has to do is make a choices that reflects important values for its target customers.
Academic research discovered evidence about psychology and physical effects that are caused by colors. From the results of different studies, it was discovered that colors can arouse feelings of excitement, peace, relaxation, warmness, coolness, and even awareness. Studies show that, if you give someone warm colored placebo pills, they will be more influential compared to the same placebo pills in cool colors. Furthermore, red lights cause an exciting effect on gamblers, making them gamble more with riskier bets. Red exposure can also increase blood pressure and frequency of eye blink. Blue lights, on the other hand, have the opposite effect of red, making us feel calmer and more relaxed. In one study it was revealed that there was a decrease in the number of crimes and suicides in streets where blue illumination was introduced. An additional study shows research undertaken on football and ice hockey teams with black uniforms that they were more aggressive and receive more penalties than teams with colored uniforms.
These are only a few examples of the impact colors have on people’s minds and their decision making. Numerous other examples can be found in the marketing world. Colors have been widely applied in marketing for a long time, in order to attract customers’ attention and to provide products that better suit their personalities and needs.
Chapter 2: Why color matters in the purchasing process?
The importance of colors in the purchasing process made by customers has been demonstrated by different studies. These studies have shown that:
Color is one of the most important factors
Data from one study made by the secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo underlines that 92.6% of participants think that visual factors are the most important during a purchasing process. Moreover, 84.7% think that color is one of the most important factors among all other factors researched.
90 seconds are enough to judge your brand only by its color
Customers make subconscious judgments about products in only 90 seconds. This judgment is based on color only somewhere from 60% to 90%.
Color can increase the most crucial product-related activities in a process from 60% to 82%
A piece of research undertaken about the impact of color on various marketing aspects, conducted by Lovalo College in Chicago, has shown an increase from 60% to 82% in some product-related activity such as, read product’s written content, decision making of purchase, retention levels, attention span, higher selling potential, and brand recognition.
Chapter 3: The importance of logo colors
Colors, as well as shapes and forms, communicate without words and help to establish and support a company’s corporate image.
Every company must have a clear idea of what it wants to communicate about itself to the public and it should find the best way to achieve it, through the use of their tools (means, or resources).
We usually link brand communication with the use of traditional instruments such as written pages, videos and other types of contents displayed on various communication channels such as television, books, newspapers, or social media. Those are the typically used methods from companies in order to deliver knowledge about the company’s values and information that stakeholders need and want to know.
In order to have a good and effective brand communication it is necessary that the message you want to send is carefully designed for the audience. This is achieved by taking into account the target audience to which it is directed and the best medium for the audience to reach it.
Not everyone knows that one of those instruments is the company’ logo, in fact, as well as a preponderant role in brand recognition and brand awareness, it’s one of the most influential elements of brand identity.
In the midst of a market full of competitors, it is the graphic representation of your firm that distinguishes your company from others. Each company strives for an attention-grabbing logo. The logo is important because it is usually the first thing customers notice about your brand, with the potential of becoming a memorable business asset. Hence, it has a high potential of becoming a strong factor to brand identity.
To fully maximise the potential use of a logo, it is necessary to correctly manage each aspect of which that logo is composed of. (see also Anatomy of a logo). To create a successful logo, we must take into account that the logo is the image that connects us with a brand. As research by Jessica Ridgway from the University of Missouri has shown, customers draw a clear picture of a firms identity only at the sight of their logo. Also, they apply common color associations based on the logo color and usually have strong opinions about the colors that better suit to express its identity.
Chapter 4: Colors general meanings and association
Some studies have collected data and generated information on the major associations made by individuals, depending on the color they had contact with.
Each color expresses different emotions in the eyes of those who are watching those colors. This provides valuable information which helps companies to determine how they are identified and what specific values they transmit to their target customers through the use of colors.
Colors are classified in primary, secondary and tertiary colors:
Primary colors get their name from the fact that they don’t derive from any other color. Instead, different combinations of primary colors have the property to originate any other color known to the human eye. There are two types of sub-classifications of primary colors differing on the technique used for the combinations, namely:
- Primary additives colors sets, that follow an additive technique and is CMY set, composed by the primary colors Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow (CMY).
- Primary subtractive colors sets, that use a subtractive technique. They represent two main sets of color CMY composed by the primary colors Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow and CMYK that includes the black color, among the primary colors listed.
- Secondary colors are formed by merging the same quantity of two different primary colors. Some examples of secondary colors are:
- orange (from the merging of red and yellow)
- purple (from the merging of red and blue)
- green (from the merging of yellow and blue).
It’s important to point out that the combinations listed above only work if the pure form of each color is used.
- Tertiary colors originate from the fusion of a primary and a secondary color. The use of these colors in the design is slightly more complicated compared to the previous ones since to use them you need to know exactly the properties of the individual primary and secondary colors. It is important to know that not all primary and secondary colors can be joined together, but only those that are next to each other in the color wheel. For example, red and purple give rise to magenta and red and orange to vermilion. But on the other hand, blue for example cannot be mixed in harmony with orange because the two colors are not next to each other in the defined color wheel.
Now here’s a look at the common color associations made by people:
Red is commonly associated with feelings of passion and enthusiasm. It is a very popular choice for a logo for various reasons. First of all, it easily attracts customers’ attention. As explained earlier, this color has a physical and mental impact on humans, through increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and appetite. For these reasons, red is a favorite for multiple companies in the food industry (such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s).
Yellow is a color that associates with freshness, happiness, positivity, energy, optimism, and joy. It is considered the happiest color, and generally a forward-looking color. It inspires originality. Logos that have this color usually spur positive emotions to their brand. Multiple food companies, including here McDonald’s, and SubWay use this color to inspire hunger in their customers.
Green is the main color that is considered healthy, natural, bio and ecological. Green also represents good luck and tranquility. In fact, green is the color that relaxes the human eye the most, and for this reason, in the world of brand design, it is commonly used in backgrounds. Normally, this color is widely used by companies in the environmental and food sectors to convey the sense of health and respect for nature. Apart from the natural aspects, green is also commonly associated with money, richness, and luck.
Blue has a powerful relaxing and pacific effect inspiring trustworthiness, stability, reliability, and security. Moreover, research has shown that this color is able to slow down the metabolism of our body. It is mainly used by companies and particular sectors that require a high degree of trust, such as banking, financial and insurance sectors, who receive the benefits of the color as they appear more reliable to customers.
Orange is a color that increases brain activity in humans, according to Eisenman’s research. The associations of orange are similar to associations of yellow, namely brightness, life, and energy, making it an ideal choice if your logo’s goal is to draw attention. Orange transmits feelings of youth, energy, fun, and creativity.
Purple is associated with playfulness, royalty, and luxury but also with spirituality, meditation and mysticism. Violet is a fairly rare color in nature and in antiquity, it was a color accessible only to the richest class. Purple is created through the mixture of a warm color with a cold color. This gives purple properties of increasing the imagination and creativity, but research also shows that purple can cause mood change from good to bad.
Brown is associated with feelings of vintage, elegance, seriousness, and masculinity. It is a color that evokes a sense of strength and solidity. Being a dark color it can also cause feelings of island and sadness. It is commonly used in construction and construction companies, to represent a sense of security and stability.
Pink is related to fun, femininity, and delicacy. Pink has the characteristic of serenity to those who see it, but research has found that it is a brief effect, as in this sense of calmness remains only in the first moments of the exposure of the color. Especially for children, it is associated with femininity, therefore it is often used in games and TV shows that are characterised for girls.
White symbolises purity, cleanliness and simplicity and it is also associated with elegance, refinement and sophistication. White represents lightness, innocence, and purity. It is used in the design world mainly accompanied by other colors, and it is often used as a background color because used alone it often gives a sense of emptiness and sterility, for example as in hospitals.
Black infuses your brand with a sense of power, elegance, and authority. Black, as well as white, is also popular in logo design because it can easily be combined with any other color. However, black is also associated with death, sadness, and depression in different cultures around the world. In the fashion industry, it is often used to label the brand with a high-quality standard.
Colors can have different associated meanings in people, both from their personal experiences and from cultural differences. For example, red is associated with good luck in China and the combination with black signifies happiness, this is why this combination of color is commonly used for weddings. For these reasons different color combinations offer a lot of versatility in brand awareness.
Chapter 5: How to select a color for your logo
The process of selecting a specific color for a logo requires time and attention to ensure that the vision and values of the company are properly communicated to target customers. The choice of the right color is always connected to the decision-making of the customer. There are several steps that a company should follow to choose the most appropriate color scheme for their brand.
To begin with, it is important to take into consideration the company’s brand, namely, who and why the company exists. Using different colors in the same images or symbols express different emotions and feelings.
To help us choose, the use of a color wheel may be useful. In this way, it will be easier to identify complementary assets, situated at the opposite side of the wheel and analog colors which are 3 colors next to each other in the wheel.
Using warm instead of cool colors could allow your logo to be perceived closer by viewers.
Usually, logos with bright warm colors can attract attention more than logos with light and soft cool colors.
Placing warm colors in the foreground and cool colors in the background is a good technique to improve the perception of depth in the logo.
Using complement colors can help create strong and marked contrasts that help to highlight the key points of the logo.
The use of analogous colors helps to create a sense of coordination between the various colors in the logo. The analog colors help to create a more harmonious combination and make the whole image more integrated.
As a brand design agency, we know that people make clear ideas of corporate’s identity only at the sight of their logo and also that they associate specific meanings to the color used. For these reasons, if your objective is to communicate your brand identity to the customers, you can’t rely only on the traditional tools used in brand communication but you must understand how to manage both these aspects.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand what people associate your brand with in order to understand what color would be a best fit in your logo. This can only be done from gathering data that comes directly from your target audience, which highlights the importance of knowing your target audience.
Once you gather that data, you can calculate how likely a particular association can be made and choose the right color for your logo. A brand design agency can help you attract customers based on what they want to see in a tasteful way so you can maximise the potential of your logos use in developing your brand.