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How to Pick the Right Colour for Your Logo

Now that you've picked the perfect name for your business, it is time to create a killer logo. This is a true creative process with a lot of science behind. Most people believe that deciding on the design is the most difficult part of coming up with a powerful logo, but the truth is the first thing you should consider, and you should consider it well, is what colour to go with. Colours have the astonishing ability to evoke various emotions and feelings in people, without them even realising it. This is why colour psychology has a huge place in marketing and business as a whole.

how to choose logo colours

Study the Colours and Emotions Associated with Them

It is a commonly used strategy among marketers to select particular colours in order to pass certain brand messages on. During my studies for a degree in Fashion Marketing, I spent 3 weeks, only learning about the meaning of colours in the consumer psychology and different cultures. So let me share with you some of the knowledge I gained.

Black - Usually, it is associated with darkness, mystery and luxury. In combination with white, it often represents traditionalism and order.

White - It is connected to cleanliness, purity and perfection.

Blue - Seeing this colour (especially in lighter tones) makes us feel safe and secure. It is very calming and envokes a feeling of trust. You now know why so many global banks and financial institutions have chosen blue as their primary branding colour.

Red - It relates to domination, energy and passion. Being the colour of blood, it often represents life and love.

Yellow - This is the colour of sun, so it is, in most cases, connected to positive feelings like cheerfulness and optimism. It is also the colour of mind and intellect, but it could be seen as a representation of indecisiveness or impatience.

Orange - Is your brand social? Go orange. It promotes emotional healing and strength in times of hardship or psychological trauma.

Green - It is the colour of nature and growth. It often reminds of balance and regeneration or restoration, but can be also associated with over-competitiveness, immaturity and mercantilism.

Pink - The most common association with pink is romance or femininity (bear in mind, cultural specifications also play a big role in colour meanings and we will look at that later in this post). While light or pastel pink can be seen as a sign of silliness or lack of experience, more vibrant tones like magenta, represent spiritual balance and stability.

Purple - Since the dawn of times, purple has represented royalty and places a clear importance on the individual. High-end, exclusive brands, you may want to go down the purple route.

Brown - whether you expected it or not, brown is the colour of material well-being and money. It makes a person feel cosy and comfortable, close to nature.

Silver - It is quite a mystic colour, connected to the moon, the feminine beginning and various mythological creatures. It envokes a feeling of prestige and class.

Gold - It represents winning and being the best. Gold is usually used when we want to emphasise on one's achievements and success. A business using gold as part of its branding is often seen as very influential.

how to choose logo colours

Understand Cultural Differences

Apart from their psychological meanings, colours also mean, or are associated with, different things in different cultures.

Black - In African cultures the colour represents masculinity and maturity or excellence. In the Middle East it has a dual meaning of death and rebirth. Globally, it can be associated with negativity, but also with exclusivity and sophistication.

White - In the West, white is a symbol of purity and peace; in some Latin American countries it is connected to the divine and time. The real contrast is made with its meaning in Far Eastern countries, where it represents death and misfortune.

Blue - It is probably the only colour that has a universal meaning throughout various cultures. People wearing it (or brands using it) are seen as trustworthy and capable of bringing safety and security.

Red - This colour is very important in the Indian culture and represents everything good or all a person would like for themselves. In South Africa, however, it is associated with violence, death and sacrifice. Chinese people see it as the colour for celebrations, bringing good luck and prosperity.

Yellow - Marketing a yellow brand in France won't be easy as the colour is associated with jealousy and weakness. Also, not a good idea for the Chinese market, where yellow is the label for pornography. In Japan and Africa, though, yellow is a well-respected and preferred colour.

Orange - Most cultures see orange as a positive colour and the Hindus even considered it sacred. Spiritual links with orange one can find in east Asian cultures, as well.

Green - Globally, green is referred to freshness and luck. It is the traditional colour of Islam and connected to fertility in the Middle East. However, if you are trying to sell a green hat to a Chinese man, you will likely find your business in trouble. In Chinese culture, this is a sign that the man has been cheated on by his wife.

Pink - Most countries around the world use pink as a referral to femininity, however in Japan, this is traditionally, a male colour. A pink logo for an architect in Latin America would be a spot on choice.

Purple - In Brazil and Thailand, purple is the colour for mourning, while in the United States it is associated with honour as Purple Heart is the oldest military award in the country.

Brown - In the UK, brown is associated with manual labour and simplicity, while in the Caribbean, it is connected to fun and parties, being the colour of rum.

Silver - In North American countries, silver is seen as sleek, luxurious and elegant. In central Europe, it usually relates to cars and shaving tools.

Gold - Eastern European countries pay a lot of attention to gold in their folklore and the colour often brings associations with fairytales and dreams. In African cultures, women's clothing traditionally incorporate gold, which is also connected to the longevity of one's life.

Temmie's Advice

Every detail of your logo plays a role in your brand image and the colour you choose plays, arguably, the biggest one. Isn't it fascinating how easily your mind remembers ‘MasterCard’ when you see two circles in red and yellow? Or how you’re suddenly in the mood for a Big Mac when you see a yellow “M”. Choose a logo colour wisely and own it. It is a powerful tool in strengthening your brand image and building a bond with your costumers.

The beauty of branding is that it’s flexible. If you already have a logo and you feel that somehow it doesn't quite represent the image you want, you can always build around what you already have. Hey, Nike never had the idea a swoosh could represent physical empowerment until they worked around it.

branding expert at MBC


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