The fact that the colour of your logo will evoke a certain emotional response is both an opportunity and a quagmire. If you choose a colour that elicits positive and relevant associations, it can enhance the response to your logo. If you, unknowingly, choose a colour that has negative and inappropriate associations, you might not be so lucky!
Here are just a few examples of the types of emotional associations we have with colour, along with examples relevant to the healthcare, building and financial sectors of professional practice. In many cases, these associations are based on contemporary Canadian culture and, as such, are expected to differ for certain niche markets:
Yellow can be associated with intelligence and idealism. It can evoke feelings of optimism and joy. Yellow needs to be applied with caution, as a loud yellow tends to stand for bargains while a faint yellow can make your logo difficult to see. Our Toronto marketing firm used yellow for this healthcare logo, in combination with green and blue. In this logo, yellow was employed for both its associations, as detailed above, and its ability to communicate a compelling message about transparency.
Depending on how it is used and within which context, red can be associated with either the positive or negative ends of passion, energy and power. We used red in disciplined doses for this healthcare logo, where it reinforced the key message of being on alert, and for this engineering logo, where it communicated authority and enthusiasm. We also used it on our own logo for these very qualities. Heavier use of the red, for any of these logos, would have dramatized these associations and pushed responses over towards the darker side of these same emotions.
Blue can be associated with knowledge and justice. It can feel cool to cold. It can also evoke feelings of peace. Blue is sometimes associated with money (and maybe even pin stripe suits)! Perhaps for this reason, it is a favourite colour with accountants! We leveraged the blue in the existing securities firm logo throughout this Toronto investment advisor’s website in combination with a dark brown for a fresh and modern but grounded identity.
Green can be associated with nature, growth, healing and harmony. It is considered to be a nurturing colour and for that reason is prevalent throughout the healthcare sector. It is also rampant throughout the current green movement. We leveraged the association with growth and harmony for this lighting consultant’s logo in order to emphasize the firm’s comprehensive approach to lighting design, as is overtly suggested by its tagline.
Purple tends to stand for imagination, mystery, inspiration and wealth. It has a history of being associated with royalty and, if used carelessly, can be perceived as disingenuous. Today, it has taken on a new meaning and seems to have become associated with new age thoughts and ideas. Purple is not commonly used in professional practice, with the possible exception of alternative therapies. We used purple as one of the alternating colours for this architect’s logo. Employing an approach that promoted originality, this logo colour changes from page to page on the website in order to amplify the significance of each individual project.
Orange is a vibrant and social color. It represents new, friendly and fun. It can also be associated with creativity and health. We used various tones of orange for this healthcare logo, in combination with yellow, for its warmth and optimism.
Intuitively, brown stands for earthiness. It can also be associated with reliability, calm and authenticity. Reddish brown tends to be associated with the richness valued in wooden antiques. We used brown, in combination with blue, to communicate a solid yet nurturing environment in this healthcare logo.
Grey is an elegant and classical color that is sometimes associated with modesty and maturity. It is an easy colour to work with because of its neutrality. We used grey, in combination with green, for this sophisticated golf course photographer’s logo.
Combining more than one colour in your logo adds another level of complexity to this decision because, in addition to the combined psychology of the individual colours, you also have to consider colour harmony. Talented graphic designers are well informed about this dynamic and can sometimes offer surprising combinations that work. We developed this landscape architect’s logo with an unusual but harmonious combination of colors that reaffirm a spirited commitment to bold vision.
Once you have made the high level decision about your logo colours, you will have to address the degree to which these colours will dominate your marketing campaign. For example, a logo that has a red icon can be the inspiration for a website with a red accent or a red backdrop. While the colour palette is identical in both scenarios, the response would dramatically differ.
How do your know when you’ve found your logo colours?
When, within the context of the totality of your brand, your audience’s response is consistent with the desired image and profile for your firm… and not, taking the easier and more intuitive approach, when it matches your favourite shirt!