Color theory says blue is associated with ambition, green with balance. Every color carries its own meanings and connotations! Learn how branding and color theory intersect and pinpoint which color or color scheme is perfect for yours.
What is color theory?
Color theory is the study of color from artistic, cultural, and technical angles. In color theory, we look at the way colors pair and contrast, symbolic meanings, associations and connections with colors, and the perception of color.
Within the broader context of color theory is the subcategory of color psychology, which focuses primarily on the meanings and associations humans perceive different colors to have. That’s what we’ll be focusing on here from a business perspective: What different colors say about your brand.
Color theory and branding
Color theory and branding go hand in hand. Color psychology principles can work to your advantage if you take them into consideration when you’re planning and developing your branding visuals – and it can work against you if you choose a color that doesn’t fit your brand.
It’s important to first know what each color “says” about a company – some colors won’t be a good fit (even if they’re your favorite), and knowing the way consumers perceive each color will help you find the hues that are spot-on for your messaging and visuals.
Before you read further, ask yourself:
What color do I like best?
Red: Bold, passionate, exciting, youthful, physical, active, power, confidence (read more)
Orange: Optimistic, warm, extroverted, impulse, freedom, social, spontaneous (read more)
Yellow: Joyful, friendly, mellow, humor, cheerful, wisdom, optimistic (read more)
Green: Balance, clarity, health, equilibrium, nature, wealth, safety, stable (read more)
Blue: Ambition, content, goals, self-sufficient, determination, spirit, open, aware (read more)
Purple: Original, compassion, deep, creativity, respect, fantasy, unconventional (read more)
Pink: Possibilities, feminine, long-term, calm, love, nurture, intuitive, unconditional
Black/white: Balance, calm, neutral, luxury, lasting, mystery, formality, authority (read more)
Color theory in logos
As the home of an incredible free logo maker, we’re obsessed with the effect different colors can have on a logo and a brand in general. It’s no coincidence that the meanings ascribed to various hues correlates with the messaging of the brands they represent. Check out these examples!
Red logos are used to promote activity, boldness, youthfulness, and passion. That makes complete sense when looking at some of the most famous red logos of our time, like Coca-Cola, Pinterest, Lego, RedBox and Target.
Purple logos invite a sense of creativity and magic. They speak to the unconventional, original mindset. Wonka is the best representation of these meanings from the group of purple logos above, and Taco Bell’s “Think Outside the Bun” slogan is a perfect fit for a purple brand.
Orange logos aren’t all that common, but when they’re used, they can be powerful! Meant to provoke feelings of spontaneity, freedom, warmth, and impulsiveness, it’s a great choice for brands like Harley-Davidson, Fanta, and Reese’s.
Green logos are all about some form of wholesomeness and balance. They are associated with freshness (Whole Foods, Tic Tac), nature (Animal Planet, Tropicana), wealth and luxury (Land Rover, Starbucks), and stability (John Deere).
Blue logos call to our sense of ambition and self-sufficiency (and are the most common color logos of all time). Color psychologists say we associate blue with openness, sharing, and goals. That makes it the obvious choice for brands like Ford, PayPal, Facebook, and Twitter.
Choosing the right color for your logo
It’s great to read about why certain colors work for other brands, but what about the color for your own logo? That can be harder to pinpoint.
Method 1: Your gut feeling
Earlier, we asked you to make note of which color you liked best. You probably didn’t take long to pick a favorite – it was a gut decision. Which did you choose? It could be the right color to build your brand around. Your business is an extension of yourself, and your own goals and beliefs will be deeply entwined with the goals and mission of your company.
Method 2: Describe the vibe
Try taking one word from each of the color descriptions above and use it this sentence with your brand name:
[My brand] embodies [color description word].
Does it fit? If it doesn’t, move on to the next color. You’re sure to find at least one that adeptly describes the vibe you want your brand to have.
Example 1: Tropical Tans embodies compassion (purple is not a great fit).
Example 2: Hamilton Homes embodies stability (green would be the perfect color choice).
Method 3: Describe your customers
A great method to choose the best color for your brand is to start by analyzing what your customers want (even if you don’t actually have customers yet). Who is your target audience? Start by jotting down a few words that might describe them.
Example: A swimwear company
My customer is: Youthful, fun, active, healthy, optimistic, energetic, confident, happy
Best color: Red (4 out of the 8 words are associated with red). Orange would make a great accent color as it shows up twice in this list.
With the basics of color theory under your belt, you’re officially ready to make your own logo with your new signature color! It’s free to make and download your logo with FlashMarks. Click the button to bring your brand to life now!