More than just a pretty face: What colors represent in logo design

I’ve covered steps to create a logo, and things to keep in mind when you’re designing and ad. Well, what about color? When you’re designing your logo and marketing materials, the colors you use will have an impact on how they make people perceive you and how you come across.

I’m going to give you a little bit of insight into what colors mean and what images they can conjure up, so you can make sure that you’re putting everything to work for you and taking the best advantage you possibly can.

One thing to remember, though, is that color references like the ones I’ll talk about below are very culture-specific. What means joy in one culture can be a color of sadness or luck in another. I will be basing our color philosophies on the American culture at large, since it’s what I know and where most of my personal customer base exists.

These color associations are good to keep in mind when designing for your business; whether your logo, a direct mail ad or a website. If you’re a diet clinic, do you want a color in your logo that makes people hungry? Might not be a good idea! For an aerobics instructor, you’d want colors that make readers feel energized and excited, instead of drowsy and relaxed.

Red is a very strong color. It’s very noticeable and is often used for caution and warning signs; It’s associated with stop or “beware”. It’s a hot color that evokes a powerful emotion of passion, sex, energy, blood and war. Red is a good color to use for accents that need to take notice over other colors. Red is often used in flags for nations, as it is a symbol of pride and strength. Many car manufacturers choose to use red to model their flagship vehicle styles, since it portrays a sporty feeling.

Orange is a combination of red and yellow, a bright and warm color. It represents fire, the sun, fun, warmth and tropical images. It’s considered a light, fun color that has appetizing qualities to it. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain and stimulates mental activity, and it’s highly accepted among young people. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. Any design relating to the tropics, something fun, easy going and youthful should incorporate some type of orange into the design. A darker, richer shade of orange can be associated with autumn.

Yellow is the brightest color to the human eye. It represents fun, happiness, sunshine and other light playful feelings. It is a cheerful energetic color. Yellow is often used for children’s toys and clothes. Yellow is often hard to read when placed on a white background so designers must be careful when using yellow, that it isn’t’t too difficult to read or notice. Though yellow is a bright cheerful color, as it starts to darken it, however, quickly becomes dirty and unpleasant.

Green is the color of nature and health. It represents growth, nature, money, fertility and safety. Green is a relaxing color that is easy on the eye and has a healing power to it. It is often used to represent anything having to do with health. Many pharmaceutical and nutritional companies use green in their logos and material to advertise safe natural products. Dark green is commonly associated with the military, money and banking, but it can also be associated with being new or inexperienced as being green or a “green horn”.

Blue is a calming color that shows creativity and intelligence. It is a popular color among large corporations, hospitals and airlines. It’s a color of loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust. Blue has a calming effect on the mind. Blue is the color of the sky and the sea and is often used to represent those images. Blue is a color that generally looks good in almost any shade and is a popular color among men. Blue is not a good color when used for food as there are few blue foods found in nature and it suppresses the appetite.

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Throughout history, purple has been associated with royalty and prestige. It symbolizes mystery, magic, power and luxury. Purple is often used to portray rich powerful kings, leaders, wizards and magicians. Purple combined with gold can be flashy and portray wealth and extravagance. Light purple and pink is good for a feminine design and is a popular color among teenage girls. Bright purple along with yellow is commonly used in promoting children’s products. It gives the appearance of something that is fun and easy to do.

Black is often a color used to portray something evil, depressing, scary or even death in western civilization. It has negative imagery with it at times such as “blackmail” or “blacklist”. Black is also a very powerful color that also portrays one of class elegance and wealth. Classy clothing is designed in black from the “power suit” to the “sexy black dress” to formal “black-tie attire”. Black combined with other colors can have a very strong statement. Black is a color that can fit into almost every design to add contrast, type, and make the other colors stand out more.

White is often associated with being pure, clean, fresh and good. The color of a fresh snowstorm brings up images of a peaceful and pure winter scene. White is a common background for Webster’s as it is easy to read black or dark text on it. When used with a design using lots of negative space it gives a very clean look to it. White is also used lots for charities and non-profit organizations to denote something good and positive. Hollywood often portrays their characters in white as being good; the white horse, the cowboy with the white hat, the white wizard etc. White usually is associated with being pure and almost heavenly. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and heaven.


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