Color Use in Logos
Color has been an essential facet of branding ever since marketers came to understand its power to convey brand messages. Research into color psychology has given us a better understanding of the most common associations different colors carry and has helped establish a set of good practices for marketing, branding and design. Color is considered a valuable branding tool, and for good reason: a standard product assessment takes about 90 seconds, and 62 to 90% of this judgement is based on color alone. Research from Loyola Institute indicates that using colors to manifest critical messages enhances brand recognition by 80%. Considering that customers are always more likely to buy from a company they recognize, we start to get the picture of how important color choices can be.
Logo design is an essential part of a company’s branding efforts, and there’s no better way to showcase the role color plays in the process than by taking a look at some real-life success stories. In this post, we will check out five inspiring uses of color in logos and branding. These five companies have succeeded in finding the perfect color strategy to convey their message and have also included their color choices at the forefront of many of their branding campaigns. This makes them perfect examples of how brand owners should be tackling color choices.
Coca Cola and Red
The iconic “Coke red” has been a bastion of the company’s branding for ages. Coke has used red in its advertising since the brand’s creation 132 years ago. According to Coke’s own historian, the brand was one of the first in the world to create their branding from scratch and introduce rigorous standardization practices in that field. The main feat, accomplished by the boldness of the chosen shade, was using their logo on a signature red disk as a “promise” that a customer would find Coca Cola in a retail store or restaurant. Their subsequent aggressive branding campaigns continued to feature many attention-grabbing icons outside of stores and in retail fridges. A big reason why red works so well is because it is an emotionally charged and highly contrasting color. In fact, red is most commonly associated with energy and activity, and it’s been shown to increase people’s heart rates and appetites.
Apple: Black Elegance and Authority
Apple’s logo has undergone many changes. The tech giant has come a long way from the original logo which featured a hand-drawn picture of the famous Newton-apple scene. Today the company sports a stylish black apple logo which first appeared in 2015. While the shape of the logo has not changed all that much (it has become cleaner and more stylized), the designers went through silver, rainbow and blue periods before settling on white for ten years and later switching to black.
Since 2001, Apple’s logo has been silver, white and black; colors frequently associated with elegance and purity (especially white). Their current choice of black retains the same level of recognizability while increasing viewer association with a sense of refinement and authority.
Going from one tech giant to another, we’ll take a look at Facebook next. Reportedly, the company’s color choice was a result of the fact that its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. Blue was picked because Zuckerberg can easily distinguish it, but it turned out that their choice was spot on for other reasons.
Part of Facebook’s success in terms of brand recognition is due to the choice to stick to the color scheme on their website, apps, and throughout their branding. This has helped establish their particular hue of blue as “Facebook’s blue”. In terms of color psychology, blue is commonly used in industries where trust is especially important (for example healthcare) since it is usually associated with trustworthiness and tranquillity. These associations have helped Facebook gain the trust of their users. In light of recent data breaches, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to keep users’ trust in the future.
John Deere Green
If you’re looking for a genuinely iconic branding strategy based on color, look no further than John Deere. The agricultural machinery giant’s color choice is so popular that in the singer Joe Diffie recorded a song called “John Deere Green” that topped the charts in the nineties. The high degree of association between the color and their brand has a lot to do with the fact that the most common and traditional associations with green fit the brand perfectly. Green has a strong association with nature and health foods and many brands that wish to expand on their message of sustainability or closeness with nature use green in their color schemes.
The decision to match the logo color with the color of their actual products was a critical one in terms of brand recognition. This clear link between logo and product further ingrained the brand image into people’s minds. For John Deere, this proved to be a real home run.
Victoria’s Secret PINK Line
Victoria’s Secret PINK brand is a perfect example of why designers should think of their target audience before settling on a color. PINK targets college-age women, it has a more youthful and edgier approach to branding compared to Victoria’s Secret’s more refined and seductive vibe. Choosing the color pink seems like a no-brainer in this case, with the color and name joining to make the perfect combo.
Sometimes designers shy away from pink for fear it might come off as infantilizing or tone deaf in an age when we are walking away from gender stereotypes. Yet, pink is still preferred as a color by lots of women, and it has gained status as a revolutionary symbol (think pussy hats). This choice to use pink to show trendiness and engagement with a specific target customer is a clear indicator of the importance of thoroughly understanding your customer base.
These five brands have used color in groundbreaking ways. Their stories show us that color choices aren’t only important for aesthetic purposes, but also serve as an indispensable tool for great branding.
Although they have little in common, these five companies have taken their respective color strategies to the next level, using design choices to tell stories about themselves and the products and services they sell. This is what you should be aiming for.