Colour Psychology

What colour should your logo be?

Let’s take a brief look at colour psychology. You will be surprised how much it plays a part in your brands success. Our minds are inherently programmed to respond to colour, they shape our thoughts and emotions and according to studies colour affects our mood and can influence our buying habits. A study called Exciting Red and Competent Blue confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colours due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. Consumers consciously or subconsciously choose products that align with their personal identities.

Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognisable brands, which makes colour incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Colour Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colours that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors, (if the competition all uses blue, you’ll stand out by using purple).

Different colours can say different things about your brand, and will appeal to different customers. So where should you start? Let’s take a look:

  1. Determine your brands personality and your target market
  2. Explore Colour Psychology
  3. Assess the competition

The brand personality traits usually come from the following groups or will lie somewhere in between.

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You will need to concentrate on the 3 traits that lean the most towards one side. Example: Brands can sometimes cross between two traits, but they are mostly dominated by one. High fashion clothing feels sophisticated, motor bikes feel rugged. Additional research has shown that there is a real connection between the use of colours and customers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality. Certain colours DO broadly align with specific traits (e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, blue with reliability and red with excitement). But nearly every academic study on colours and branding will tell you that it’s far more important for your brand’s colours to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical colour associations.

Why We Love “Mocha” but Hate “Brown”

Although different colours can be perceived in different ways, the names of those colours matters as well!

According to a study, when subjects were asked to evaluate products with different colour names (such as makeup), “fancy” names were preferred far more often. For example, mocha was found to be significantly more likeable than brown, despite the fact that the researchers showed subjects the same colour!

Additional research finds that the same effect applies to a wide variety of products; consumers rated elaborately named paint colours as more pleasing to the eye than their simply named counterparts. It has also been shown that more unusual and unique colour names can increase the intent to purchase. For instance, jelly beans with names such as razzmatazz were more likely to be chosen than jelly bean names such as lemon yellow. This effect was also found in non-food items such as sweatshirts.

As strange as it may seem, choosing creative, descriptive and memorable names to describe certain colours (such as “sky blue” over “light blue”) can be an important part of making sure the colour of the product achieves its biggest impact.

Here is a breakdown of the most basic colours, what emotions they evoke, and what services they can effectively attract customers to:

Red: Emotions: Love, Anger, Aggression, Passion, Sensuality, And Intensity

Red is the most used colour in logos as it has such a wide range of different emotions but carries them all intensely. Red can serve to intensify or evoke the passion of whatever niche you’re in. One thing red is not known to be is relaxing or calm, it evokes action and has an immediate impact. Many restaurants can get away with a lighter shade of red as they are feeding off a potential customer’s intense desire to eat that kind of food, or get that immediate service. Notice how many fast food logos have red in them.

Orange: Emotions: Pleasure, Boldness, Distrust, and Enthusiasm

The shades of orange can cover a wide variety of emotions, but one that stands out among them all is boldness. Orange is often seen as the colour of innovation and modern thinking. It also carries connotations of youth, fun, affordability and approachability. Orange would be a good colour for a business that is bold but supplies innocent services such as toys like nurseries, travel agents, etc. Orange is very easy to contrast however and if coupled with colours like black or even just darker shades of blue, and purple, can carry a more serious tone.

Yellow: Emotions: Cheer, Joy, Energy, Caution, Sickness

Yellow is naturally a bright colour so you will usually find it evokes more of the happy emotions than any others. However, like orange, yellow finds itself powerless to change its meaning even with darker shades. It’s for this reason it’s deemed a simpler, more childish colour. As such it is generally more appropriate for family friendly businesses such as theme parks, family restaurants, toy shops, etc.

Green: Emotions: Harmony, Fresh, Ambition, and Greed

Green is a colour commonly associated with finance, safety, and nature. Many outdoor recreation companies use green in their logo to really push the raw, harmonious nature that comes with experiencing their products. Recycling and green energy, finance, and healthy food establishments could very effectively utilise green in their logos.  Green occupies the most space in the spectrum visible to the human eye and is the second favoured colour.

Blue: Emotions: Calm, Trust, Confidence, Seriousness

Blue is a colour most associated with business because it evokes a sense of balance as well as calm intelligence. Like the water blue can adapt to anything and look as if it had no problem doing so. It’s for this reason that blue tends to be the colour of many businesses with niches like medicine, tech, business, and internet companies.  A lighter blue evokes more trustworthiness where a darker blue evokes presence of intelligence. Both are good to have but it’s important to decide which one is more likely to get the customer through the door. Blue is the colour least gender specific it appeals equally to both sexes.

Purple: Emotions: Ambition, Dignity, Mystery, And Independence

Purple speaks to us of royalty and luxury. It has long been associated with the church, implying wisdom and dignity, and throughout history it has been the colour of wealth and riches

Brown: Emotions: Comfort, Strength, Laziness, And Isolation

Possibly the most modest colour of all, brown seems to limit logo presence to the more masculine, outdoor businesses. The most prevalent of brown’s emotions seems to be isolation as it’s just light enough to let us know it’s there but keeps to itself. Often used in association with the outdoors, bars and coffee shops, in association with the product they supply.

Black: Emotions: Power, Mysterious, Grieving, Elegance

Any logo meant to give the customer a sense of power holds a little bit of black in it. Black is the ultimate dominance and ultimate finality. The more power that the services deal in, the more black that is used in the logo. Think of athletic symbols like Under Armour and Nike sports gear that relies on making the customer feel more powerful for wearing their clothes. Similarly, it implies elegance and is widely used by fashion houses, remember the classic little black dress or the elegant black tuxedo.

White: Emotions: Innocence, Purity, And Cleanliness

Not many businesses can pull off a lot white in their logos. Those who have abundance of white have to be in the business of something that is as absolute as a starting point. Bread dough, weddings, paper, and things everyone at some point in their lives at least considers using. Like black however, white is used in moderation in almost all logos. If nothing else black and white can help tell customers if your services are serious or happy.