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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

The Psychology of Color: 6 Logo Color Secrets You Should Know

If you are at the beginning stages of developing your brand and business, particularly your logo and website, this article is for you.

In fact, it could be one of the most useful articles you read as you navigate the tricky waters of logo design, brand image and building a business from scratch or re-branding your already-established business to increase its earning potential.

And it all starts with Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst whose work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and even religious studies. In particular, Jung was fascinated with the properties of colors, how they affect the human psyche, and how they can be used in art for psychotherapy.

Fast-forward almost a century later, and modern marketing researchers are finding that color indeed affects the human psyche—most especially, human purchasing and consumption habits. To give you an example, Satyendra Singh, a researcher from the University of Winnipeg, in Winnipeg, Canada, found that color contributes significantly to human decision making, with about 62 to 90 percent of choice in products and services based on colors alone. And it doesn't take a mathematical analyst to understand that 62 to 90 percent is a big influence. Not surprisingly, within that same study, she found that color influences moods and feelings—both positively and negatively—toward certain products or services that are offered.

Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science by Lauren Labrecque and George Milne organized research relating to color and the human response for a first impression in five categories: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. The results of that study found that certain colors and saturation levels of those colors do influence perception of a brand or logo, and should be a major consideration in any business' design and branding goals.

Most graphic designers will tell you that while it's not an exact science, the color of a logo or website does influence the way we feel about a brand, service or product. For that reason alone, color choice should be an important factor in your brand and business identity. Hopefully, the following secrets will be just the ticket to finding the perfect colors for a great first impression of your brand or website design.

#1. White, and yellow, and pink hues make your brand seem more sincere

White, yellow and pink
White, yellow and pink seem sincere.

In their review of the literature surrounding color psychology and how color influences people's impressions, Labrecque and Milne cited several studies showing that white is associated with sincerity, purity, cleanness, happiness, simplicity, hygiene, clarity, and peace. They also mentioned studies showing how yellow gives the impression of optimism, extroversion, happiness and friendliness. Finally, pink comes across as sincere, nurturing, warm and soft.

Some examples of brands that use these hues successfully in their design and logos are crowdfunding sites like Gofundme.com® and Indiegogo.com®. Since visitors to these sites contribute money to various crowdfunding campaigns, the impression of sincerity and extroversion is important.

#2. Red and orange hues make your brand seem more exciting

Red and orange are exciting
Red and orange are exciting

It's no accident that brands like Coca-Cola® have used red as their identifying color. In multiple studies cited by Labrecque and Milne, the color red has been linked to arousal, excitement and stimulation. Some studies have even shown how colors with longer wavelengths (for example, red, orange and yellow) create a state of arousal and activity when viewed by increasing the viewer's heart rate.

#3. Blue hues make your brand seem more competent

Blue hues make your brand seem more competent
Blue hues make your brand seem more competent

Labrecque and Milne note several studies showing that blue is linked to feelings of competence and is associated with intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, duty, and logic. It is also seen as a secure color, which is why a lot of airlines choose blue as the main color in their logo to create an impression of safety and competence

Other brands like GE®, IBM®, At&t®, American Express® and LinkedIn® have also successfully used blue in their logos to give off an impression of intelligence and trustworthiness.

#4. Black, purple, and pink hues make your brand seem more sophisticated

Black, purple and pink are sophisticated
Black, purple and pink are sophisticated

If glamor and sophistication are part of the image you're going for, black, purple or highly saturated pink are the best colors according to Labrecque and Milne. Purple has long been associated with royalty in multiple cultures, while black remains a common color for tuxedos and formal attire.

Brands like Cadbury® and Hallmark® use purple to denote indulgence and sentimentality, while Victoria's Secret® uses pink and black for the same luxurious impression.

#5. Brown hues make your brand seem more rugged

Brown seems rugged
Brown seems rugged

Citing several studies, the authors note that brown gives the impression of ruggedness and is associated with seriousness, nature, earthiness, reliability, support, and protection. UPS® and Cotton® are two brands that have successfully used brown in their logo to highlight these facets of their business and attract customers through the impression of reliability and rugged strength.

#6. Saturated colors express more dominance and excitement

Saturated colors are exciting
Saturated colors are exciting

Saturation is the amount of pigment that is in a color. A color that is only slightly saturated will have a washed-out, gray appearance while a color that is highly saturated will appear brighter and more intense.

In their study, authors Labrecque and Milne found that increased saturation evoked an impression of dominance and excitement, while decreased saturation had a calmer, gentler feel. So not only does the color affect the viewer's first impression of your brand or website, so does the saturation of that color.

Similarities in industries

If you take a moment to look on the websites of certain professions, you'll find that many use similar colors and combinations of colors, as well as saturation levels to evoke particular images and impressions. For example, you'll find a lot of health-related businesses that use white and lightly saturated blue as the primary colors of their brand design and logo, while attorneys generally go for darker, more serious color combinations that include darker saturation of blues and grays. Environmentally focused businesses and wellness-related brands use a lot of green and brown, while brands focused on children or children's needs will use more upbeat, energetic colors like yellow and red. Once you start paying attention to how these colors are used in design to elicit a certain impression, you'll never think about color the same way!

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