The Science of Logo Design: The Power of Color

Those of you that have had a logo designed with us will know that one of the questions we ask on the order form is what colors you have in mind for your design. But just why is color so important? This article is the introduction to a series that will explore the importance of color in branding and advertising. Here I will briefly discuss the physical and psychological effects of color on consumers, while in subsequent articles I shall be taking you on a journey through the rainbow, exploring the meanings and associations behind a number of commonly used colors.

 

 

 

 

The first way that color works on us is purely physical, and is determined by the way the human eye and brain process light; namely, how visible a particular color makes something appear. Every woman knows that a black dress will make her look smaller than a white one. Also, a light colored text on a dark background has been found to be easier to read than a dark colored text on a light background.

 

 

 

Some colors work well together, while other combinations can make you wince. Colors can match tonally, or be complementary.

 

 

Complementary colors are those opposite one another on the color wheel; purple and yellow, blue and orange, green and red etc. Using complementary colors will typically give you a more striking design than tonal colors. All of these are important points to consider when choosing the colors for your logo.

 

 

Equally important is the psychological effect color has on us, by stimulating the nervous system and causing the release of various hormones. Some of these responses have been discovered to be hard-wired in the human brain. A study by the University of British Columbia showed that red light can increase an individual’s attention to detail, while blue light can increase their creativity. Using fictional adverts and packaging the study also found that red packaging was more successful when it gave specific product details, while blue packaging worked better with evocative, creative messaging. All of these responses were entirely subconscious. Other psychological responses stem from learned behaviour and may depend on an individual’s age, sex or cultural background. In many cultures mourning is associated with black, for Hindus and in China however it is associated with white, in Nigeria red, in Mexico and Ethiopia yellow.

 

Ultimately then, choosing the colors for your logo should be about more than aesthetics. You also need to take into account the message you are trying to get across with your logo, and who your customers are. Keeping all these things in mind during the logo design process will help you to end up with a much more successful final product.

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