How To Choose the Best Logo Colours

12 August 2019

How To Choose the Best Logo Colours

Logo colouring can make or break your logo and the brand you want to create. Branding requires picking powerful pigments to improve and secure the message you are after.

Colours carry messages and create environments that make a difference in the influence and longevity of your brand. If you think about it, restaurant chains prefer reds and banks select blues. Some of this comes from imitating success, but most of it reflects a psychology of colour, issues you must factor in your logo design.

Colour is not the only tool in building a high impact logo. It is also a matter of shape and typography. But the colour choice is at the centre of the process.

Why is colour so important?

Colour is attached to emotion. History, experience, and exposure all teach you to connect certain colours with specific emotions. The colours become anchors for feelings — good, bad, and indifferent. And, because emotions power people’s decision making, your logo colour should engage and promote the decision you want. A brand should create, encourage, and enable a strong emotional connectedness between customers and product.

Colour solidifies the first impression impact on consumers. It carries your brand identity, but it also categorizes that identity among successful brands with the same colour. Colour is more than a visual aid because people associate personal history and experiences with it. And, these connections are worth investigating.

Colours and human emotion

So what is Color Psychology?. Basically, it is the study of hues and their influence on human behaviour. Key colours, primary colours, and their various hues and shades evoke research confirmed emotions and feelings:

  • Red: Brilliant rich reds — not neon pink or deep maroon — suggest urgency. Fire engine and lipstick reds are known to provoke appetite, raise blood pressure, and stimulate passion.
  • Blue: Men like blue. Brands commonly use blue to build trust because it implies security, peace, and stability. It reduces appetite and sparks productivity.
  • Green: There’s money in green. You’ll find it in logos for health services, power positions, and environmental issues. It relaxes people by stimulating peace and harmony.
  • Purple: The colour of royalty and wizards, purple promotes respect and creativity. It encourages problem-solving and decisive action.
  • Orange and Yellow: Bright orange and yellow suggest optimism and fun. They energize shoppers to buy impulsively. Just think how McDonald’s uses red, orange, and yellow
  • Grey: Shades of grey can be depressing. It can be dull and empty. But it also suggests maturity, practicality, and solidarity.
  • Black: There is nobility, stature, strength, and power in black. It’s also associated with intelligence and academia.
  • White: Logos use white selectively to suggest cleanliness, purity, and safety. Clean and unadulterated, white encourages creativity.

Harmony and the theory of colour

Harmony refers to a pleasant arrangement of parts. Logos are in harmony when their shapes, typography, and colours are balanced and proportioned. It’s as if colour has sound, notes, and rhythm. They must fall into an effective and organized pattern. Brands once identified livestock for fast recognition. Today, each design element must play its role in making that same impression.

Harmony is pleasant, engaging the viewer, and creating a sense of perceived order. It should not be quiet and bland, and it should not be loud and chaotic. The brain will reject both extremes. It is wired to recognize and value harmony in music and visual experiences. The brain will respond to various orders: logical, spatial, mechanical, and more. But the consumer mind values harmony as more pleasant, inviting, and comfortable than other orders. Hexi Design will help you decide.

Culture and the theory of colour

So what are the best colours for a logo?. Over the years, people form connections with certain colours. Their individual personal experiences create subjective impressions. Not everyone reacts to reds, blues, and greens in the same way. Nonetheless, peoples’ taste in colour appears to have been biologically and culturally determined to make emotional connections with colours. The potential psychic connection is so strong it suggests colour does more to sell your product than the product itself.

Different cultures, defined by ethnicity, gender, age, and more, associate with some colours more than others. Around the world, some cultures prefer some colours, but that does not alter their emotional connection.

So, when you commit to a colour, you also commit to a colour palette of related pigments. You must commit to a central colour that will be consistent across all your branding venues: logo, website, collateral materials, signage, employee uniforms, advertisements, and other means. The palette lets you move away from the central colour but not too far. It allows some flexibility and variation, but you must avoid confusion and inconsistency.

Colour and your brand

Retail stores favour red. Banks like blue. Contractors use brown. And, many businesses use the colours of the national flag. If you look around at brands around you, you for should feel the connectivity between brand and purpose. You can count on two things:

  1. Successful brands rarely use colours the owner just happened to like, and
  2. Power brands use colours suggested by talented designers.

You must remember the choice is not all about you. The colour choice is about what you’re trying to communicate. You must determine your unique selling proposition, what differentiates your business from another. Because the colour can connect your product or service with the customers you have targeted, the choice should focus on what’s meaningful to the targeted market. Ross Kimbarovsky, writing for AdWeek, note, “It’s less important what colour you choose and more important that you choose colours that highlight or accentuate the personality of your brand and products.”

There’s a balance you want to consider between how to set your brand apart and how to identify with a market-favoured colour. For example, Target, Harvey Norman, Kmart, Smiggle, and other retailers use the same red in different combinations, shapes, and typography. If you’re shooting for a single colour, the work is over. But most brands feature some mix of colours. If you stick with popular retailers, you will see Good Guys, OfficeWorks, Terry White, and Kmart featuring the rich red with brilliant blue.

Selecting brand core colours

Finding the magic in a brand colour scheme takes the talent and experience you’ll find in contributors to Hexi Design. These designers will be the first to tell you there is no hard and fast formula, no logo maker or template for choosing a colour scheme.

Limit your colours to three!  Colour schemes like peacocks may have many pigments. But you’ll want to start with a tighter focus on a base colour along with an accent and suitable neutral.

Start with the base colour! The base should capture the brand’s personality like the greens and browns associated with game hunting. But the base should make that connection with the audience, so you’re not likely to use perky pinks or electric blues for those hunting brands.

Accent the base! It takes more talent to mix or match colours. The science of optics and the theory of colour restrict how far you can stray from the base colour. It might be a shade different than the base or a bolder accent, but harmony is important to the brand and your audience.

Name a neutral! In a world so long dominated by beige, it’s hard to image another option. The neutral might be the background or framing colour. And, you have seen whites and blacks used successfully. That hugely successful Target symbol, for instance, is not all red; the intervening white circles make the red pop.

Classic logo colour schemes

There are class colour schemes to frame your design process. They may be classics, but that doesn’t mean you cannot experiment. 

Monochromatic — Single strong meaningful colours often have powerful impacts. If, like the Red Cross, you want to focus on a single pitch, a single colour can communicate a clean and simple message. But you may want to vary that central colour slightly to avoid boredom.

Analogous — The colours next to each other on your palette choice or a standard colour wheel are positioned there because they have approximate optic values. That proximity makes them harmonious. Those adjacent colours are analogous because they are “like” each other, so analogous colours make safe combinations. However, there’s no risk in such choices, nothing unique.

Complementary — Complementary colours are opposites on those palettes or colour wheels. Opposites make each other stand out. They may create dynamic and stimulating effects. Black and white are the ultimate complements. So, if you work around a colour wheel from that standard, you will find some novel complementary combinations.

Triadic — These schemes build on three colours found at equidistant spots on the colour wheel. If you were to overlay a triangle on the colour wheel, the three points will fall on triadic combinations. Triadic schemes are common but selecting just the right three colours takes some mastery.

Getting it right!

So, let’s back up a bit. It takes effort and focus to create a powerful logo with a punch that lasts. But, there’s more to designing an entire branding initiative, and the colours you select will run through all your marketing efforts.

The decision can begin with a colour you prefer, but you must understand this is not about your likes. First, it is about the product or service. And, second, it is about finding the colour the target market prefers. Foundr says, “The first impression your brand, product, or service makes will also be formed largely by the colour (from 62% to 90%, depending on the customer).”

Need a logo with the perfect colour scheme combination? 
Our designers are ready and waiting to create one for you!