At the start of setting up a business it’s easy to get carried away with the creative side of the venture such as the business name, branding and logo. You might have a favourite colour which you instinctively go to and your own taste around what you do and don’t like when it comes to image. Before diving in to this side of the business, it’s important to establish what your business is all about. What the unique selling points are, who your product or service will be aimed at. What is the ethos of the business which will inevitably drive decision making. These aspects of the business will then help to direct you to choosing the right colours for your logo.
Are there obvious choices?
For many businesses there are some obvious colours associated with the market they are in. For example, green is a usual choice of colour for those businesses within the environmental sector. Blue would be a clear choice to use if your business related to water. It is therefore important to consider what, if any colours are more often linked to your line of business. This does not always mean that the obvious choice would be the correct one, as you might prefer to stand out and use a more surprising colour. This leads on to the importance of researching your market and seeing what others are doing within your marketing field.
Competitors – Research their brand images and draw conclusions
As well as knowing your own business fully and understanding your target market, it’s always advisable to look around at what colours your competitors are using. Look at areas of potential advertising and see how colour plays a part in promoting your competitors. Will you have an advert siting alongside other businesses within your sector or will you be competing for customers at exhibitions or shows? Is it important that your business reflects reliability and tradition? In which case keeping your colours close to what others are using might help potential customers feel safe buying from you. Alternatively, are you wanting to project excitement and innovation? If so, then choosing a contrasting colour to that of your competitors might help you promote that aspect of your business and make potential customers sit up and notice you.
Are colours important?
Colours play an important role in conveying your businesses message and ethos. As each colour evokes certain feelings, which colours you choose for your logo will set the mood and feeling when potential customers engage with your brand. For example, the colour red has a wide range of associations such as love, danger and strength. It’s a vibrant colour which stands out and therefore would grab people’s attention. Blue on the other hand reflects calm, reliability and trust. However, blue is one of the most common colours to use and would therefore be less attention grabbing.
Whichever colour(s) you decide to go for, the colour of your logo can increase your brand’s recognition by around 80% (Neil Pattel). It is therefore essential to make sure that all of your marketing materials use the exact same colour codes. This will help people to recognise your business and help build customer loyalty. When having your logo designed by a professional, ask them to tell you the colour codes they’ve used for both printing use (CMYK) and online (RGB). These codes can then be passed on to any future designer to help ensure consistency throughout.
What each colour means
It’s clear that the psychology of colours means that careful thought needs to go in to which colours you choose for your logo. Here is a quick and simple guide to each colour and their associated feelings.
Strength, sacrifice, love, anger, danger, war, passion, excitement…
Warmth, sunshine, creativity, happiness, fun, enjoyment, optimism, adventure…
Hope, cheerfulness, optimism, laughter, sunshine, fun, energetic, intellect…
Life, luck, envy, nature, safety, calming, motivation, optimistic…
Peaceful, calm, trustworthy, loyalty, spiritual, wisdom, authority, conservative…
Spiritual, royal, imagination, wealth, wisdom, unique, magic, independence…
Feminine, innocence, romance, calming, compassion, delicate, childish, playful, uplifting, kindness…
Power, mystery, death, sophistication, sadness, anger, formality, protection, prestige, fear…
Peaceful, spiritual, cleanliness, calming, purity, innocence, simplicity, perfection, open, hope…
Within each of these colours, there are obviously a wide range of tones and shades. These will greatly affect the feelings invoked and it is therefore essential to consider and research each colour in depth to ensure you use the right shade. For example, within the blue you could use a navy which would stir up feelings of loyalty and authority where as a light blue would be more calming and peaceful.
How many colours should my logo have? – Will your logo require more than one colour in order to work?
How many colours you choose for your logo has a large impact on the effectiveness of your branding. Most larger brands only use one or two colours within their logo design. These brands have created a logo which uses a simple colour palette and as a result they are much more recognisable. If you are keen to use more than one or two colours, then three maximum, is a good rule to stick to.
One thing to bear in mind when selecting the colours for your logo is the extra it might cost for printing, as there are various different methods to choose from. If you choose to have promotional material printed digitally or on a litho press, then you can have as many colours as you want and this won’t affect the price. However, there can be differences in colour with both digital and litho printing, with different factors playing a part in the final colour outcome. Another printing option is to use pantone colours. The big advantage of pantone printing is the consistency in colour throughout your printed materials. However, for this printing method, the more colours you use within your logo, the greater the printing cost. If you are unsure about which method would be best for your business, discuss the options with your printer and look at the cost implications.
Often the best logos look great in black and white as the concept behind the design carries the brand rather than any colour. As well as the main brand colours, it’s a good idea to also consider complimentary colours to use. These colours can then be used within your website and promotional material alongside the colours you’ve chosen for your logo. Careful consideration from the start will help your designer create materials which look consistent and work well with your main logo colour(s).
Brand guidelines – CMYK, RGB, Pantone
Making sure you have a clear set of branding rules from the start, will not only help you have a clearer vision for your brand from the offset, it will help with consistency further down the line. You may choose to select pantone colours for your logo to ensure printed colour matching throughout all of your promotional material. For many smaller businesses, this might not be a realistic option as this greatly increases the cost of printing. Therefore, ensuring you know the CMYK codes used within your logo design will mean you can make sure colours are as consistent as they can be with litho and digital printing. You will also need to make a note of the equivalent RGB colour codes to match up your website design and any other online promotions to work with your printed materials. As well as the main colours used within your branding it is important to also note any codes for complimentary colours you want to use. These details within your brand guidelines can then be passed on to your designer and avoid any diversions away from your initial brand vision.
Conclusion – research and consistency
First establish and define what your business is about and who your target market is. Knowing your brand identity is key to creating a successful logo.
Research your sector to find out if there are any colour trends and what colours your competitors are using.
Understand the importance of choosing the right colours for your business as well as looking into the psychology to ensure you make the right colour choices.
Think about how many colours you would like to use and make sure to record the colour codes or pantone references to ensure consistency from the start.
If you are unsure of which colour(s) to choose, the designer of your brand and logo will be able to help and guide you. Taking time over this aspect of your branding will help ensure your brand evokes the right emotions and associations for your business. It will also assist with the successful promotion of your product and/or services within your sector.