What Color is Your Brand?

We all know that colors have strong emotional and perceptual connotations.  When we want to be seen as a strong player in a meeting, we wear red–or at least, if we’re female, we wear red!  If we want a good night’s sleep, we paint our bedroom a cool color like sky blue or sage green.  But what about our company brand?  Does it’s color need to be thought of as a communication element?


How many of you scan social media for avatars not only by shape but also by color?  If you ever saw a UPS truck painted orange, would it make you flinch? What target audiences do you think of when you see a pink brand logo?

Have you ever noticed that when logos get updated, the color scheme rarely changes?  The Pepsi logo (above) is just one example of how powerful the link is between brand and colors.

We all know that the company or brand logo is sacrosanct.  We shouldn’t change the font, the color, the size relationship with the brand or company name, etc. This is why art departments have identity standards. When the rest of the company starts adapting the logo to its own needs, the continuity to the customer is disrupted.

But how much effort do we put into thinking about color in a logo?  Do we just take the creative director’s alternatives and choose the one we like?   Or is there more to the process?

This weekend I was riding my bike through a park where there was a pre-wedding picnic.  The balloons were flying, the potato salad was being opened and beverages were being tossed out of icy coolers.  But…all the decorations were dark purple and black.  The colors didn’t fit the mood nor the attitude of the party-goers.  The Hawaiian shirts and the tank tops didn’t say classic or sophisticated to me, as the purple and black colors did.  Even though the colors didn’t matter for a picnic, if this had been a brand statement, they would have set up dissonance for party-goers as much as it did for me.

When I headed Marketing at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, we used a soft green for our point-of-sale tags.  Our brand communicated to our customers that we were the healing, caring, non-chain pharmacy that was more personal and natural.  But when items went on sale, we never got the bump we were expecting. Then I did a survey of our competitors.   Every outlet who sold similar products used red and yellow for their sale tags. Yellow is the first color that the eye sees, and red is almost as strong in getting attention.  Instead of fighting the science, we incorporated yellow and red into our sale tags and increased sales without doing anything else.

With color being such a powerful communication tool, shouldn’t it be the first thing we discuss with our creative teams when designing something for the customer’s eyes–especially a logo?

For more information on color theory, click this link to an Entrepreneur Magazine article.  Then test out the theory with your favorite logos. Does color reinforce the perception that the brand is trying to convey?


Thanks to: Instant Shift for the Pepsi logo evolution and the great article by Dkumar M on 20 classical corporate logos–check it out.





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