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Brand building tips

Color theory in logo design14 Jan

colorful pencils by Capture Queen on Flickr

Source: Capture Queen on Flickr

I’ve already written about the importance of creating great logos. Having a great logo that instantly communicates what your brand is all about, and helps connect it to those who really need it, is an art. Getting your logo right is essential to your brand’s success. It still surprises me to see that many companies treat logo and corporate visual identity as an afterthought, whereas they should be spending a bit more time (and hey, cash!) on getting it right.

Today I am going to draw your attention to the importance of color in logos.

Just think about it: when you go on a date, or an important business meeting, you try to look your best (and if you don’t, you should! :) ). You choose colors that signal something relevant to the situation. You might find yourself wanting to wear red to signal passion and sensuality, and you opt for dark and calm colors to make a statement about your professionalism and seriousness.

Image source: on Flickr

Image source: on Flickr

Similar principles apply to logo design, except that logos can’t adapt to situations that easily. They have to signal the core of the brand they represent no matter the context, and that’s why it’s important to get their color right.

Colour is sometimes referred to as the silent salesperson because it transfers a meaning on a subliminal level.1 If this is so, selecting the ‘right’ color for your logo can give you a competitive advantage by making you stand out from the crowd.

For all those who are interested in the subject of color in logos, I’d like to refer you to a paper published in the Journal of Brand Management, Colour and meaning in corporate logos: an empirical study.2  In the study described in this paper, people were presented with a selection of fictitious black and white logos accompanied with an accompanying brand description. They were then asked to select the most suitable colors that would express the brands’ values.  As a result, one can see that the same colors were associated with similar qualities in different situations.  For example, in several cases brown was selected to signal “trustworthiness” and “stability”, yellow and orange — “fun” and “exuberance”, etc. Below is an image that can give you more idea about the study. Have fun discovering the color power!

Image source: Niki Hynes, Colour and meaning in corporate logos: an empirical study in Journal of Brand Management, 2009, 16, pp 545-555

Image source: Niki Hynes, Colour and meaning in corporate logos: an empirical study in Journal of Brand Management, 2009, 16, pp 545-555

  1.  Eiseman, L. (2000) ‘The Pantone Guide to Communicating with Colour’, Grafix Press Ltd, New York []
  2. Niki Hynes, Journal of Brand Management (2009) 16, 545–555 []

Related posts:

  1. How to create a great logo
  2. Need rebranding? Don’t just change your logo, think brand strategy
  3. Design thinking & funky brands
  4. Astonishing product design & funky brands
  5. Starbucks changes its logo

2 Responses to “Color theory in logo design”

  1. Niki Hynes Reply

    Hi.. Thank you for using my article. As an academic its nice to see people actually finding my research useful / interesting. Niki

    • Olga Slavkina

      Dear Niki,

      Thanks for the comment! My own approach to building brands is a mix of hands on work and knowledge of the latest research in branding. So, for me checking the best academic sources is essential.

      Yours is a very useful article on logo design, and I think any branding specialist should read it.


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About Olga

Olga Slavkina is an international brand and marketing strategy expert based in Brussels and managing partner of SCHMOOZY FOX. Originally from Latvia, Olga was educated in the United States, where she was a Fulbright student at The Fletcher School (Tufts University), and Spain. She holds an MBA from IE Business school in Madrid, which holds the No. 1 position in the 2012 Financial Times ranking of European business schools.

Fluent in several European languages, Olga works with companies around the world to help them launch new products and services, reposition existing ones, and make them relevant and meaningful to their customers.

Olga’s expert opinion on branding and marketing has been featured in Financial Times, TechCrunch, Personal Branding Blog and other publications. Olga’s concept of Funky Brands™ has been nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award 2011. Olga tweets as @schmoozyfox.

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SCHMOOZY FOX is based in Brussels, Belgium and serves customers internationally.


Email: olga (at) schmoozyfox (dot) com