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What Are Your Logo Colors Really Telling Customers? Read This.

Imagine summing up your entire personality and all of your values and ideas into one color. Seem daunting? Now imagine that you have to choose a color for your company’s personality, values, and ideas that would potentially be in consumers’ minds forever. Talk about a panic attack waiting to happen!

The logo color (or colors) you choose sends either a positive or negative message. It can encourage sales, calm a crowd, or turn off an entire market of consumers; that’s why choosing is so difficult and should not be taken lightly!

The following colors give off both positive and negative effects, some of which we’re all aware of and others that may surprise you:

Green: Evokes positive feelings of freshness, peacefulness, calmness, and relaxation. However, it can also give off negative feelings concerning sickness and boredom.

Blue: Gives the air of tranquility, coolness, harmony, and intelligence to consumers. Unfortunately, sadness, aloofness, and unfriendliness can also be expressed.

Yellow: This is probably the easiest color to express how it makes consumers feel: playful, friendly, and optimistic. With traffic signs being engraved into our minds, however, it also suggests caution and anxiety.

Black: Authoritative, secure, substantial, and elegant…all of these describe how people feel about black when they see it in a company’s logo. However, feelings of death, despair, coldness, and oppression are also tied to this color.

Red: Red is the most passionate color to choose for a logo due to the power, speed, and courageousness that it conjures up in people’s minds. Use caution, though, because it can also inspire feelings of danger and aggression.

Purple: During the middle ages, royalty wore this color to symbolize their social ranking. Even today it has that distinction; it represents luxury, sophistication, consciousness, and spirituality. Despite this color’s royal past, it can also represent moodiness and depression.

White: Be careful of where you use white. If you want your logo to stay within the states, then it could represent purity, innocence, clarity, and truth. However, in China and Japan, white represents death and mourning. Also beware of negative impressions white can bring right here in the USA – it can summon feelings of coldness, sterility, and harshness.

Orange: Despite no word in the English language being able to rhyme with it, orange still evokes positive effects of being strong, fun, comfortable, and secure. However, negative feelings of immaturity and frustration also exist.

One of Jeff’s blog posts about sports team loyalty and color aversion also discusses logo choice in an interesting light:

“It’s all about understanding your target audience and customers, even in regard to the colors you choose for your logo, advertising materials, and website. You want to attract as many people as possible and repel as few as possible.”

This is exactly why choosing company colors for your logo is a tough task. You can take comfort, though, in the fact that for every color listed there are both positive and negative effects. That means no one color is the right one. Just make sure your logo matches your target market and your company’s purpose and you’ve got a green light!

Do you agree or disagree with any of these effects? Have you seen a particular logo and felt an effect, either one of these listed or a different one? Are there any logos you feel should be redone because of perceived effects?

Image credits: Firefox logo, Burger King photo, One World logo


Amy Swanson

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ content developers and social media coordinators. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can connect with Amy on

Comments

  1. JPorretto

    Thanks for the quote Amy! I love how you broke down the core feelings by color. I really only considered them for specific examples. Our two posts just go together like peas and carrots, to quote Forrest Gump =)

    • Jill Tooley

      Nice quote (both in Amy’s post and in your comment)! :)

    • amy

      It was cool to read how similar our two blogs truly are, yet one deals with sports and the other with business (nice Forrest Gump quote as well sir ;))

      • Amanda

        I love Forrest Gump! =)

  2. Joseph Giorgi

    Creating a professional logo would be a daunting task to say the least. Having to choose the right color scheme to represent and reinforce your company’s values is a big deal. But I’d imagine that it could be very rewarding too.

    If I were the owner of a brand or business, then my logo/site/overall visual aesthetic would consist primarily of blues and greys. I always liked that combination. But that’s just me. :)

    Awesome post, Amy!

    • Jill Tooley

      Why am I not surprised by your color choices, Joe? I giggled when I read that. And by the way, I think we could have a lot of fun naming potential businesses for you. Maybe something like: “Joey’s Soup-erior Eats” or “Giorgi Porgie Pudding”? Mwahaha – I kid, I kid! ;)

    • amy

      After researching this topic it really fascinated me that they are such effects that people/consumers may think of.

      I like your color choices, nice and calming and non-threatening. Good call!!

  3. Lauren

    I love yellow!!! I’d make my brand say playful, friendly, and optomistic

    • amy

      This color totally fits the effects! How can you be mad at yellow? It’s so happy and perky all the time :)

      • Amanda

        I’ve heard before that yellow makes people hungry, and that is why they made the McDonald’s arches yellow. Do you know if that is true at all?

        • amy

          This is an interesting question Amanda. I had never heard it before, but after some researching I’ve come up with a few reasons:

          1) These two colors are eye-catching; a yellow and red sign up against a bright blue sky while driving on the highway will stand out better than dark green or dark blue

          2) McDonald’s was founded in 1953 and revolutionized the fast-food industry, other emerging restaurants jumped on the yellow and red bandwagon (Wendy’s, Denny’s, Hardee’s, Sonic, etc.)

          3) Yellow represents mustard and red represents the ketchup that are the only 2 condiments they put on their burgers

          4) These colors are associated with ‘warning colors’ (fire trucks and hazardous materials)

          You pose an interesting question, have we been conditioned to salivate at the sight of these colors because of McDonald’s? I’d like to think we’re not a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs… but I guess if he won a Nobel Prize for his theory, perhaps we are.

          Shoot, now I’m craving a Big Mac :(

  4. Jana Quinn

    Great post topic, Amy. I’d love to know where you found this information; psychological “hacks” like this are so fascinating!

    Red and green are my favorites, because they remind me of the best holiday ever.

    • amy

      I loved my consumer behavior class that I took my junior year of college because it was the psychology of customer’s buying habits. To say it was interesting would be a major understatement!

      This information actually came from a company that consults emerging companies on their websites.

      Love your color choices as well, can’t go wrong with those to evoke happy effects :)

  5. Jill Tooley

    Warm colors get my attention the most, although I’m not sure why. I have nothing against cooler colors, but oranges, reds, and golds appeal to my eyes a lot more. However, I actually read an article that mentioned orange as a polarizing color: nearly half of the people surveyed said they LOVED it and just as many said they HATED it. There were very few in between, which is interesting.

    Don’t forget about color in regard to promotional materials, either. A seven-color logo may sound good on paper, but it could be extremely costly to print on corresponding marketing materials. It’s smart to choose a logo that will keep its integrity even if it’s printed in black and white or in a single color!

    Thanks for bringing up all of these points and revealing the science behind logo colors. This could really help people who are just starting out and are unsure about where to go with their insignia! Nice work! :)

    • amy

      I totally agree with you on orange being a polarizing color, I love it but I do know some people who detest it with a passion. That style of information always fascinates me!

      It’s sometimes too much for people to look at as well when there’s a million colors in your logo. Why have seven colors that blend in to the background, when two colors will pop out to customers?

  6. Ashvini

    Hi Amy,

    This is great explanation of how to use color to achieve the desired effect and image for your business. I have used dark green color on my site to achieve a good professional effect .
    I have some questions:
    How do we find the complementary color if we have a color in our mind?
    How many colors(numbers) are ok in a logo?
    Should we use shades of same colors or contrasting colors?

    Sorry for troubling you but I thought you can enlighten us with your opinion.

    • Jill Tooley

      Hi, Ashvini! Thanks for commenting. Amy is on vacation this week, so I thought I’d field these questions for you! :)

      To find complementary colors the easy way, I’d recommend using a site like Color Scheme Designer. You can start with your main color and work the wheel based on complement, triad, tetrad, analogic, and even accented analogic. It’s pretty cool!

      There’s not really a limit to how many colors you can have in a logo, but it’s not recommended to have more than 4 or so. When you have more than 4 colors in a logo, all of them are competing for people’s attention and sometimes it’s tough on the eyes (which is no good for anyone).

      It’s up to you whether you use shades/hues of colors or contrasting colors, because it depends on the look you’re going for. Contrasting colors tend to “pop” more, but gradual shades of one color can be stunning in a logo if it’s done tastefully. I’d suggest spending some time with the Color Scheme Designer tool and finding the method that works best for you! We also have a helpful article on our site about how to design a good logo – there are tons of tips and suggestions that may help you!

      And you’re not troubling us at all! Thank you for your questions and good luck with your logo. Hopefully we’ll see you back on our blog soon! :)

  7. Amanda

    Nice post Amy! =) I love pretty much all colors!

    I think for business and logos though, two or three colors is best. It adds drama and makes the logo stand out, but doesn’t get too cluttered up either.

    • amy

      I hate cluttered logos too, if 2 colors will do the job why have seven?! Thanks for commenting :)

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