The Meaning of Colors in Your Small Business Logo
When designing a logo for a small business one of the first things that needs to be discussed is the color scheme of the logo and the rest of the business’ brand. Colors are psychologically ingrained in us to mean different things and cause different emotional responses. Colors are powerful elements in any design. Different colors trigger a variety of feelings in those viewing it and it’s important that you understand the natural response that different colors cause in consumers when you’re deciding on what colors you’d like in your business.
Meanings: Alert!, Aggressive, Danger, Love, Passion, Action/Adventure, Drive, Energy, Excitement, Blood and Strength
Red is an intense color for humans. It causes passionate emotional responses spanning both sides of the spectrum (from alert and danger to passion and love.) It’s an exciting and dangerous color that attracts attention and raises blood pressure and can also cause us to get hungry.
Examples of Use in Logos: Coca-Cola, Red Bull, McDonald’s, Shell Gas Stations
Meanings: Femininity, Appreciation, Gentle, Delicate, Gratitude, Innocence, Floral, Girly, Romantic, Tranquil and Soft.
Pink is a feminine color that triggers feelings of innocence and delicateness. Stirring up thoughts of soft things like cotton candy and bubble gum, pink is commonly used for “girly” or feminine products and services and also is closely related with the cause of breast cancer awareness.
Examples of Use in Logos: Barbie, Victoria Secret
Meanings: Authority, Security, Confidence, Loyalty, Power, Dignity, Established, Calm, Success, and Trust.
Blue creates feelings of security and authority (such as with Police and Security services). Possibly the most popular color in corporate logo design. Blue is used in a number of Fortune 500 companies as well as law enforcement and other Governmental organizations.
Examples of Use in Logos: IBM, ADT Security, Ford, HP, Wal-Mart, GE
Meanings: Affordable, Creative, Youthful, Fun, Jovial, Enthusiastic, Lighthearted, and High-Spirited
Being a mix of red and yellow, Orange can encompass elements of both of those colors. It is not as intense as red but still attracts attention and is commonly found in logos meant to convey playfulness and other happy emotions.
Examples of Use in Logos: Amazon, Nickelodeon, JBL Speakers, ING Banking, Harley Davidson
Meanings: Nature, Renewal, Crisp, Fresh, Environmental, Health, Money, Harmony, Healing, Inexperience, and Tranquility.
Green is a soothing color that conveys feelings of nature and tranquility. While being a symbol for renewal and life it can also represent inexperience and jealousy. These days green is used quite a bit by companies wishing to show themselves to be eco-friendly.
Examples of Use in Logos: Animal Planet, Starbucks, Whole Foods, John Deere
Meanings: Cheerful, Positivity, Warmth, Sunshine, Cowardice, Curiosity, Happiness, Joy, Caution, and Playful
This bright and highly visible color can send some conflicting messages. While conveying feelings of warmth and positivity, yellow can also represent cowardice and caution for the viewer. Yellow is most often used to convey playfulness and to draw attention.
Examples of Use in Logos: McDonald’s, Subway, Shell Gasoline, Best Buy
Meanings: Fantasy, Regal, Justice, Royalty, Spirituality, Ceremony, Expensive, Mystery, Nobility and Sophistication
Purple can be found in many logos from companies wishing to convey luxury or mystery. Hotel chains, musicians, and religious products and services often employ the use of purple because of it’s ability to trigger feelings of nobility, sophistication, and ceremony.
Examples of Use in Logos: Yahoo, Hallmark, Cadbury
Meaning: Earth, Nature, Calm, Depth, Woodsy, Rough, Simplicity, Rich, and Serious.
Often used in construction related products, Brown conveys feelings of woodsy roughness. Brown is an earthy and natural toned color that conveys feelings of simplicity and seriousness while being natural and earthy. Any product or company involving wood or nature typically employs the use of brown.
Examples of Use in Logos: UPS, Timbertech Decking, Coach, Louis Vitton
Meaning: Formal, Bold, Authority, Tradition, Classic, Distinctive, Secrecy, Conservative, and Serious.
A lot of companies use black in their logo design for its boldness and simplicity. Black is devoid of color and it conveys feelings of authority and formality but can also imply secrecy . A classic choice that corporations and other traditional companies use possibly more than any other color.
Examples of Use in Logos: Nike, Goodyear, Ferrari, Adidas, Caterpillar, Microsoft
Meaning: Stability, Practicality, Somber, Respect, Corporate Mentality, Dullness, Humility, Authority, and Moody
Grey is used as an element in logos often because it is considered neutral and goes well with most colors. It has a cool element that will accentuate whichever color its used with. Also used for products related to steel, chrome and metal such as automobile companies.
Examples of Use in Logos: Dell, GM, WordPress
Meaning: Purity, Simplicity, Refined, Cleanliness, Truth, Innocence, Peace, and Sterile
White has always represented purity and peace. Another shade found in logos a lot as an element working with other colors. Also can be used as negative space or reversed text.
Examples of Use in Logos: Puma, Volkswagon, Swarovski, Harley Davidson
Additional Note about Logo Design: No matter which color you use in your logo. It should be designed in a way that can be use as an all white or all black vector image. This is important for times when you want to place your logo on material outside your own such as in sponsorship or other branding situations where you are giving your logo to somebody else to use. (See example below)
It’s important to understand the meaning of colors when designing a logo for your small business. Combinations of these colors also can produce different meanings and feelings and thinking about those concepts will help you create a logo that is in-line with your company message, goals, and objectives.
Show Me Your Logos! Did you create your company logo using any of the above color concepts or did you employ your own strategy? Please show me your logo in a comment and share your strategy for the design. Long live the small business owner.