Use of Color in Logos and Design

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 2:00 am Pacific USA Time.

The meaning of colour is debated all the time. Some articles or blogs that say that colours do have strong meanings and ties.

Does the colour black mean power and authority? White is purity and safety? Purple is wealth and prosperity? Green means money, and darker green is masculine money? Orange is fun and flamboyant?

I could go on. But I want to say that I don't really subscribe to that. Maybe I'm special, but I've never looked at something with a black background, and felt that it meant power and authority. Sure, bleached white socks say purity and cleanliness, but I'm not sure they say safety! I'm drinking out of a purple mug, but I don't feel like it represents wealth.

So I just don't go for that. But colours are important. My approach is that colours are more about mood, and how you use colours together can really help project your company, product, or service personality and image.

Black and pink. Does that mean "whatever black means" plus "whatever pink means"? Not to me. Black and pink looks like modern punky. A bit left of centre. The contrast between something dark and something light. The fishing pole company is unlikely to go with black and pink. :)

Blue and green. They're sometimes equally dark or light shades of blue and green, so this may not be about contrast. These are colours used for nature a lot… eco, water, sky, grass.

People may say that red means passion, but I think it depends what you put it with. Put it with blue, and I'd say you have gone USA patriotic in your theme or mood! I don't look at red and blue, and say WOW… the passion of the red and the confidence of the blue. The colours in combination now have their own meaning to me.

Put red with pink, and I'd say you have something that's probably just feminine. I wouldn't say oh, it's red for passion and danger and pink for whatever pink means. I'd say we're selling to women. :) Also, the pink being a shade of red will give the logo or design a certain mood. Shades can do that!

Orange is flamboyant? Um, I don't think so. Put it with brown, and I'm going to say that 1972 wants its fridge and wood panelling back! Orange and yellow I'd say are bright and sunshine-y. Orange and blue are, well, the NY Mets I guess. :)

So do think about your colours when designing a logo, website, or anything else. I personally don't subscribe to the idea that a single colour will make people all feel the same thing… like we all think of riches and royalty when we see purple. It's also cultural. Wikipedia points out that purple is a colour of mourning in Thailand. So not every person will have the same reaction or connection to a colour.

What about the As Was logo? Did we pick those colours so that you'd imagine the spirituality of the colour violet with the flamboyance of orange? Nooooooo. I chose those colours and looking the way they do in our logo to look like the sunset in the New Mexico (I had been living in Santa Fe just before I had the logo designed). The sunset looks like this in Tucson, AZ (where I was just living for years) as well. The sky gets a really bold and warm violet, just above the horizon is a burning orange-red-orange, and in between, it's a gradient. An old version of our logo used to have the gradient. We now just use the two colours… easier for embroidery. :)

But do think about boldness, warmth, contrast, neutrality, and other "effects" of colour combinations when you're having something designed. It's all about projecting the message of your business!

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Categories: That's Good Marketing

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