The Psychology of Colors in Logo Design

Color psychology has been analyzed by psychiatrists for quite some time. One of the first to analyze colors and how they emotionally affect us was Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who studied them in the early 20th century.

Jung thought people could express their emotional feelings through color and used patient therapy painting to determine unconscious color values. Today’s marketers should put a great deal of effort in considering colors for logo designs. To help them in this task, here’s a quick guide.

Green Logo Design

sampleimage The Psychology of Colors in Logo Design

Image via Flickr by StockMonkeys.com

Beyond Jung’s research, one organization often referred to as the “Institute of Colors” is PANTONE®. Each year, they determine the color of the year — for 2013, that color is emerald green. So what sort of emotions does the color green evoke?

Green is easily recognized in environmental and recycling logos so it’s an “earth/plant” color that also conveys tranquility and peace. Green is a good logo color for financial-related businesses as it also represents wealth. Physicians, dentists and health care industries use green in their logos to convey good health and wellness. Florists and landscapers often use greens in their logos to promote greenery, flora and fauna.

The Hues of Blue Logos

Air fresheners and cotton sheet manufacturers use light blues in their logos to promote freshness. Deep blue logo designs are effective for businesses looking to convey something scholarly and academic. There’s a certain level of authority that this particular hue of blue conveys.

Darker blues offer a bolder, regal feel. Think of the dark blue box and logo for Crown Royal whiskey. However, all shades of blue are connected with security, reliability and authority. IBM, Intel, General Electric, Hewlett Packard and WordPress all use shades of blue in their logos, as each desires to promote a reliable and dependable product.

Trusted and Bold Red Logos

CNN, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Red Cross all use bold red in their logos to (respectively) portray insightfulness, intense hunger, and the life-sustaining aid offered. For decades, red has been used for to connect the mind with a blood drive or to grab the viewer’s attention that something is important or urgent — a stop sign or stop light for example.

The Superman logo is a powerful red to define the super strength of this cartoon super hero. Red lips are passionate so dark red lip logos are often used for lipstick marketing and advertising. The red Fiat logo convincingly demonstrates the power of this automaker’s vehicles.

Mellow Yellow Logos

Much like red, shades of yellow are used to show a company’s knowledge or helpfulness — think of the Yellow Pages or the recognizable Best Buy logo. Yellows are also used for tropical resort destinations or for energy and solar companies to represent the sun and fun.

Yellow also reveals happiness and warmth, while implying a certain sense of hunger; McDonald’s, for example, has been using its famous golden arches as a world famous logo for decades. Shades of yellows are great for HVAC companies that install heating units to portray warmth. Logos in yellow are also popular to reveal safe and cautious childcare services.

Multi-Colored Logos

It’s probably no accident that Pepsi Cola’s logo of red, white and blue was meant to be synonymous with being America’s favorite soft drink. Microsoft, Google and Apple have used all of the primary colors in their logos for a reason.

By combining these colors, they are offering a tiny piece of what each color represents. Our minds connect with primary colors at a fundamental level, because they simultaneously affirm many of the aforementioned ideas of peace, authority, assertiveness and confidence.

The psychology behind colors in logos is intensely studied by marketers and advertisers and graphic designers. What colors work best with what a company wants to reveal? Great logos work for decades because the human brain connects the color to the product or service.

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