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What Colors Say About Your Brand

Since we deal with branding on a regular basis, part of our job is to help brands get recognized and be remembered. Color has more of an impact than you might imagine. The color of your brand’s logo is one of the most important features. Colors bring out feelings and convey a message or a theme. If you know colors, you can use that to your advantage and control the feelings and emotions that your customers or clients feel when they see your logo and imagery. Here is a comprehensive list of different colors and what they mean for logos. In our example logos, you will also see how different colors are blended together to achieve a combination of the emotions and meanings from all colors used.

Black Logos

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World Wildlife Fun Logo uses both black and white space to highlight their mission of balance.
Black is one of those colors that can have very different meanings, depending on the context. Black is often thought of as evil, scary, or associated with death. However, when black is used in the right way, your logo can mean drama, sophistication, serious, bold, and powerful. Black in a logo can make products look expensive, elegant, or heavy. Companies that represent these strong qualities with black in their logo include: World Wildlife Fund, EA Sports, Tivo, Veritas, and Sony.

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White Logos

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Subway’s logo uses whitespace and yellow, their message is bright, clean, and fresh.
White can bring feelings of cleanliness, or “good”, as is often portrayed in Hollywood. In logos, white can represent purity or simplicity. Whitespace is often used to highlight a name or an object. Black and white is often used together in logos. Even though they are opposites, they work well together to show the contrast of power and credibility to peace and prosperity. Black and white together in a logo can show balance. White, whitespace, or black and white combined is used successfully in the logos of these companies: Qantas, Subway, Adobe, World Wildlife Fund, and Apple.

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Red Logos

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Qantas Airlines uses red to stand out.

Red can invoke very different meanings as well and since it is a very strong color, it should be used with caution. Red can represent very strong emotions such as love, passion, sportiness, or aggression. It is said to physically affect people looking at it by activating the pituitary gland, increasing the heart rate, and making people’s breath quicken. In many designs or imagery, red can mean blood, danger, or indebtedness, and it is a universal color for “stop”. So, companies should be careful and test their logo designs with their target audience before releasing it to ensure that the color is used in an effective way in your logo and accurately represents the feelings you want for your company. Some famous companies that use red in their logo to stand out, show importance and urgency are CNN, Coca-Cola, Qantas Airlines, and BBC.

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Yellow Logos

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McDondalds is famously known for having the golden arches in their logo.

Yellow is the brightest color to the human eye, but in logos is very hard to see on a white background, so that should be avoided. Yellow also can have two very opposite meanings. The first and probably most popular group of meaning for yellow is sunshine (used in almost all cultures to represent the sun), cheer, happiness, fun and energy. The second, more negative meanings can interpret yellow as cowardly or caution, as in traffic lights. Because of the dual meanings, it is important to be careful how yellow is used in your company logo so that you can make sure that it conveys the hopeful, happy, and warm feelings you want it to. Companies that successfully use these positive sentiments in their logos are McDonald’s, Commonwealth Bank, Subway, and Best Buy.

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Blue Logos

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Samsung electronics uses blue to show reliability and stability.

Blue is actually the most popular color for company logos because it is used to mean quite a variety of different sentiments. The color of both the sky and the sea are shades of blue and often used in boating, aquatic, and airline company’s logos. Blue brings a cool and calming effect over those who look at it, so it can be used to represent those ideas as well as wisdom, trustworthiness, strength, loyalty, and stability. Many social media companies use blue in their logos: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, and Skype all have blue logos. In addition to those companies, other businesses that use blue logos are: IBM, HP, Samsung, and GE.

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Orange Logos

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Blogger’s easily recognized by its letter B logo.

Orange is the combination of red and yellow; as such it also represents a combination of the same ideas those two colors do. Warm, bright and youthful, orange logos can represent the tropics, sun, fire, or fun. Similarly to how red increases heart rate, orange increases oxygen and is said to activate brain activity. Therefore children’s companies, health companies, and travel companies with tropical destinations will have success using orange company logos. Companies famous for using orange are Nickelodeon, Blogger, and Burger King.

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Green Logos

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Starbucks Coffee uses green in the logo to represent the relaxing atmosphere in their shops and the natural aspects of their coffee products.

Green is another logo color that has many meanings, some positive and some negative sentiments. Green can be nature, Earth, growth, healing, or money. It is said to be relaxing; however, it can also represent greed and envy. When green is used correctly in logos it will mean that the company will be associated with wealth, calm, healing, freshness, or the environment. Companies that achieve positive sentiment with green logos are Starbucks Coffee, Woolworths, Sprite, and the Cooking Channel.

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Brown Logos

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UPS combines gold and brown in their logo to indicate importance and reliability, how they convey they will delivery your important packages.

Brown invokes feelings like reliability, durability, stability, wholesomeness, and earth’s naturalness. Just be careful that it does not elicit a negative response, as in dirty or dirt. Certain shades of brown can mean different things; beige can mean neutral, where terracotta can mean a more unique and upscale look. Companies with successful brown logos are Columbia Clothing, UPS, Cotton, and Ghirardelli.

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Purple Logos

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The purple used in Hallmark Card’s logo reinforces the level of nostalgia and sentimentality.

Purple is a blend of tranquil and stable blue and fiery red energy, but the resulting feelings is not so much a blend of the two in the case of purple. Instead, purple is representative of fantasy, magic, mystery, royalty, and wisdom. Lavender, when used in logos can invoke feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality about a company. Prosperous companies with purple logos include: Yahoo, Cadbury, Avid, Hallmark, and FedEx.

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Pink Logos

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Barbie is the ultimate product for girls, the logo could not be any other color than the fun pink hue girls have grown up loving.

Pink is one of the few colors that meaning really varies with the intensity of the pink color between pastel pink and hot pink. For businesses, pink can be used to send a message of playfulness or tenderness, and of course, represents products for girls or women. Hot pinks can mean energy, excitement and fun while lighter pinks can be romantic and sentimental. Companies that successfully portray this imagery in their logos are Barbie, T-Mobile, Glam Media, Victoria’s Secret, and Baskin Robbin Ice Cream.

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Rainbow Logos

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Google’s rainbow logo embodies the idea of being everything to everyone.
We should mention that some of the most successful companies and some of the most popular logos are rainbow or multicolor and that is an indication of being “everything to everyone”. Companies with multi-colored logos include: Google, MSN, Ebay, and NBC.

How to Use This Color Knowledge to Your Advantage

As you l see, many of the colors can mean very different things depending on the context and the way they are used, so it is a great idea to do some testing with your target market before launching a new logo to gauge the reaction of your audience. Testing comes up often in many different aspects of marketing. Using test groups or A/B testing can give you a good idea of what will work for your company’s goal and brand before you release it and make a mistake. Armed with this knowledge, you can be sure you are delivering the right message to your target audience.

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About Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas enjoys blogging for BrandMe. Sharing marketing and business knowledge, as well as gleaning knowledge from others is key to him.