The Psychology of Color in Logo Designs


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Psychology of Color in Logo Designs

Why colors are as important as design elements in logos

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Believe it or not, there is a psychology to color because it can have a direct impact on the human mind.

McDonald’s restaurants, for instance, commissioned a study and chose yellow and red as their theme colors because those colors tend to make people feel hungry and then want to leave ...thus promoting food sales as well as a fast table turn-over rate! And you thought it was just because yellow and red are the colors of mustard and ketchup!

Although colors have varying significance between cultures a research study in the United States determined that the following human reactions to colors remained relatively constant.

Therefore, in graphic design, particularly logos, branding and crests, the choice of colors can be equally important as the design elements and style.

Black - the color of authority and power and also submission.

Black is popular in clothing because it tends to make people appear thinner as well as being considered stylish and formal. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God while a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering or make the wearer seem aloof or sometimes even evil.

White - connotes innocence and cleanliness and even discipline.

White is considered a summer or hot weather color because it reflects light and therefore keeps the wearer cooler. Brides traditionally wear white to signify their ‘virginal purity’ at the time of marriage. White is popular in both decorating and fashion because it is light, neutral, and is therefore very versatile. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean and therefore clean white implies that extra care is taken with cleanliness. Medical professionals have traditionally worn wear white to both imply and demonstrate sterility.

Red - the most emotionally intense color.

Red tends to stimulate heartbeat and breathing which is perhaps why its the ‘color of love’. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier, but since it is an extreme color, red clothing should be avoided for negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Pink is a variation of red and associated with romance as it tends to be tranquilizing to the viewer.

Blue - one of the most popular colors.

Blue causes the opposite reaction to red as it is peaceful and tranquil, therefore causing the body to produce calming chemicals. However, blue can also be cold and depressing yet wearing blue to job interview evokes a symbolism of loyalty. People tend to be more productive in blue rooms because a calmer state of mind allows an individual to concentrate more fully on tasks at hand.

Green - symbolizes nature and living.

Green is the easiest color on eyes and has been known to improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing effect which is why TV studios have "green rooms" for guests, and why hospitals often use green to relax patients. Green to symbolizes fertility and growth. Dark green is considered masculine and conservative, and generally implies wealth.

Yellow – an attention getter with a dual personality.

Yellow is considered an optimistic color yet people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. This is likely because yellow is the most difficult color for the eye to deal with and can be overpowering if overused. Yellow speeds up metabolism and therefore enhances concentration …which is why it is used for legal writing pads.

Purple – a color with mixed messages

Purple is the traditional color of royalty, implying luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic, however purple has also been adopted by the gay community as its symbolic color …perhaps because it can be arrived at by mixing pink and blue which are the traditional colors of gender. Purple also implies eccentricity to some as it is not the most commonly used of colors.

Brown – a color associated with earth

Brown is seen as a staid, solid, reliable color because of its connection to earth. The term "earth tones" is predominantly associates with degrees of brown and this tends to make it a ‘natural’ and ‘unpretentious’ color. People who wear brown are considered to be understated and often academic, if not shy as it is not a color that attracts attention.

Summary of color use in logo branding

Choice of color must be looked at on the basis of what sub-verbal messages are being sent. Combinations of colors must balance once against the other to either combine effects or for one to downplay a negative association of another.

Many people argue with designers about choice of color because they are thinking in terms of their favorite colors personally, as opposed to understanding the subliminal effects of those choices.


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