The human mind is powerful. Did you know that people make long-lasting subconscious judgments about a product, brand, or person within 90 seconds of seeing them? When it comes to logos, visual stimuli can convey meaning, power, and emotion. However, the decisive factor in a potential customer’s outlook on your brand is color, with up to 90% of your client’s assessment based on the color of your logo. So what impact does this have on your business? Here’s a crash course on how you can use color psychology to your advantage and create a brand that stands out.
What is the meaning behind famous logos?
We are always curious to know what our favorite brands mean with their color choice. However, if you run a business, you need to know the basics of color psychology before committing to a particular brand image. So here is the message you are sending your customers with your logo when you use the following colors:
Secret Meaning: Orange is associated with enthusiasm, social communication, playfulness, and excitement.
When you should use it: This color is perfect if you want your brand to come across as friendly and light-hearted, but also confident, affordable, and persuasive. It is also great as a call-to-action, as it conveys both openness and aggressiveness at the same time.
Which brands have it: Amazon, Orange, Fanta, Nickelodeon, SoundCloud, Mozilla Firefox, MasterCard, Penguin Books, Blogger.
The color orange is primarily associated with warmth, energy, and feelings of enthusiasm. Though many people associate the color with autumn or summer, the way orange is perceived in the human mind largely depends on how it is related to life experiences. It is generally considered a “warm” color, next to red and yellow on the visual spectrum and color wheel.
This group of colors is known to influence people to feel optimistic, particularly toward the orange object or individual wearing the color. In addition to the positivity that is induced by this hue, it is also known to infuse vitality into an experience, but not in an overpowering manner. As people age, they gain a different appreciation for this color, as the longer wavelengths become more appealing with maturity.
Secret Meaning: Blue evokes feelings of safety, reliability, authority, trust, and stability.
When you should use it: This color scheme is perfect for establishing a mature relationship between your brand and your customers. It might not be as eye-catchy as red or yellow, but it lets prospects know that they can count on your company and that you are offering both quality and loyalty.
Which brands have it: Paypal, Hyundai, Ford, Oral B, Philips, Intel, Volkswagen, Motorola, Twitter, Facebook, Samsung, HP, IBM, Gap, Skype, Nokia.
Blue represents another end of the spectrum, the “cool” colors, existing alongside green and purple. These shades are known to calm people down and soothe them, ushering them into a sense of tranquility and safety. Researchers have found that this experience is partially attributed to the lowered blood pressure and pulse rate that occur when seeing something of this color.
When someone observes an object or another individual doused in the color blue, the body’s physiological response causes them to be inclined to trust that item or being. (Be careful, though, when used in excess, the natural response shifts away from security and instead causes people to feel disengaged and distant.)
Curiously, researchers also found that this color puts people into a mental state wherein they lose track of time. When placed into a room with blue lighting, study participants experienced difficulty in accurately estimating the time when asked.
Secret Meaning: Red is the definition of passion, energy, aggression, action, and strength.
When you should use it: This attention-grabbing color is bound to stand out and encourage impulsivity. It stimulates appetite, increases heart rate, and evokes strong emotions in the customer, creating a sense of urgency. This should be your go-to choice if you own a restaurant or a business that sells food and promotes impulsive buying.
Which brands have it: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Netflix, ESPN, Heinz, Toyota, Canon, Youtube, Time, CNN, Kellogg's, Pinterest.
If you were to ask someone about how they interpret the color red, whether it be in advertising, in daily life, or nature, odds are they would use language similar to “bold” and “striking.” This language indicates the most common type of response to viewing shades of red. Psychologists have discovered the profound capabilities of this color to alter the viewer’s mental state and exert dominance.
The body reacts to this color quite interestingly. Perspiration rates rise, brain waves are excited, and respiration is sped up as well. Still, you must be careful when integrating red into your logo design. It is possible to induce feelings of anger when using this color.
When used in the right context, red can stimulate people to be more assertive and encourage them to work harder. Wearing red clothing, for example, makes people feel markedly more aggressive. For those looking to inspire dominance and urge their customers to act out of confidence, integrate red into your logo design.
Secret Meaning: Yellow is linked to optimism, cheerfulness, warmth, playfulness, and creativity.
When you should use it: This color is a bit tricky but can work wonders for your logo when used right. You choose yellow if you are going to grab the attention and convey a sense of happiness. It is an excellent choice for selling natural products, cleaning supplies, or shiny, appealing items.
Which brands have it: McDonald’s, Snapchat, Warner Bros, Lay’s, Chevrolet, Subway, 20th Century Fox Studios, Nikon, Cheerios, Denny’s, Forever 21.
Of course, this is one of the happiest colors known to man, and that is quite possibly universally agreed upon. Yellow falls into the “warm” category along with orange and red, depending on the shade (for example, mustard yellow would be considered a “warm” color). However, it may also be recognized as a happy and energizing color.
When a person perceives the color yellow, they can be affected in a wide variety of ways. For instance, as a warm color, this pigment, like orange, will bring enthusiasm and heightened energy levels. It can be a powerful tool to encourage people to take action on whatever the color is associated with. However, due to its nature as a happy color, it can also create a general sense of joy in an individual, bringing a youthful vigor to the already positive underlying tone of the experience.
Secret Meaning: We associate green with health, money, growth, healing, renewal, safety, and prosperity.
When you should use it: Green is the perfect choice if you have a business in finance or your target audience is geared more towards healthy living and an eco-friendly lifestyle. Green is usually the trademark for a product or service being environmentally sustainable, and it is ideal for organic, bio, vegan, or vegetarian brands.
Which brands have it: Whole Foods, Starbucks, Tic Tac, Android, Sony Ericsson, Spotify, CancerWise, Animal Planet, Carlsberg, Heineken, Sprite, MorningStar Farms.
Green is an empowering color that has very peculiar effects on human psychology and physiology. It is a part of two groups of colors: the “cool” and “calming” colors. (Although, when in its neon form and lighter colors, it certainly functions as an “energizing” hue as well.)
Still, though it is associated with overwhelmingly positive feelings, if misused, green can also be seen as quite sad. Presumably, this is due to the physiological experience that is similar to the slowed heart rate and lower blood pressure that characterizes calmness.
This color inspires a rejuvenating experience, one that is marked by feelings of optimism and prosperity. Similar to the effect created by the closely related color blue, people tend to feel more secure when shown this color, and open to new possibilities. One study demonstrated just how extensively this color can affect people’s mental dispositions. A once black box was painted green, and upon lifting the box after its fresh paint job, the participants reported that the box had gotten lighter.
Secret Meaning: Pink is associated with youth, femininity, love, and tranquility.
When you should use it: This color does not just cater to a “girly” clientele, but can also inspire fun, sweetness, and playfulness to potential customers. It is an excellent choice for businesses selling food or products targeted towards women.
Which brands have it: Barbie, LG, Cosmopolitan, Baskin Robbins, Johnson & Johnson, Flickr, sweetFrog, Dunkin’ Donuts.
In most people’s upbringing, the color pink is associated with femininity and softness, due to its continued association with women. Pink fits into two different categories of color groups: “calming” and “happy.” However, this does depend on the shade of pink being used, since it is on the lighter end of the red spectrum.
Too dark, and your design may mistakenly invoke feelings of aggression. Since it is a combination of red and violet, darker shades can also become more calming than intended. Generally, though, pink is most likely to make people feel romantic and playful. Even children have been shown to have strong reactions to this color. According to recent studies, toddlers aged three years old and younger tend to favor bright and pastel shades of pink.
Secret Meaning: Black represents luxury, authority, sophistication, mystery, and power.
When you should use it: Black conveys that you mean serious business and that you are a well-established brand that offers exclusive products and values elegance, customer loyalty, and quality above all. It will not attract a great deal of attention, but it is classy, straightforward, and sends a clear message of authority, power, and simplicity to your prospects.
Which brands have it: ABC, Gucci, The New York Times, BBC, Prada, BlackBerry, Nike, HBO, Disney, Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal, Adidas, Sony, Ralph Lauren.
Black is a complex color that can influence many different feelings, some of them being quite the opposite of one another. For example, when used in specific contexts, this color can make viewers feel a sense of professionalism, distinction, and power. In contrast, it is also often associated with periods of sadness and mourning. Depending on your brand, this may or may not work in your favor.
People also feel empowered and strengthened when viewing or wielding the color black. So, when used appropriately, it can do wonders to drawing people into a narrative and giving them a sense of control in the environment. As evidenced by different cultural perceptions of this color around the world, this is an incredibly flexible color that can provide an array of experiences for the viewer, depending on the learned response and the context of the observation.
Once you have made your choice – stick to it!
Just how important is the color of my logo?
I am glad you asked. You might think that logo color, while essential, can’t possibly have such a profound impact on the customer’s actions, moreover, changing your logo colors if needed doesn’t affect your brand. Well, you would be wrong. Have you ever imagined the famous McDonald’s logo in pink and black colors instead of red and yellow? Picture it in your mind. Even if you do not change the design at all, you might not be so eager to buy your next Big Mac anymore.
However, let’s take it a step further – look at some of the most well-known brands out there, from Coca-Cola to Facebook, and now picture their logos in bright yellow. You will find that their appeal is gone.
We, as consumers, correlate specific color combinations and fonts with different qualities and emotions such as authenticity, product quality, and security. So whatever your choice is, remember to stick to your desired colors once your brand image is established. This will make it easier for people to recognize your business and won’t create any confusion in the future. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but most of us do not make purchases based on what we think about a product, but instead on how it makes us feel and how easy it is for us to recognize it.