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January 28, 2013

How Color Combinations Impact Your Logo

How Color Combinations Impact Your Logo

Those of us blessed with the gift of color recognition simply adore a beautifully constructed color scheme. Whose heart doesn’t swell with warmth at the sight of a lovely bed of flowers, a gorgeous sunrise or an artfully designed brand logo? Our eyes fill with tears of joy at the very thought. *Sniffle*

You see, striking and effective color combinations in logo design are vital to a logo’s overall effectiveness and success. The wrong color usage can cause the whole aesthetic to fall to pieces, resulting in the failure of the advertising campaign, the destruction of the brand and the ultimate downfall of the company, maybe even mankind! But we don’t mean to frighten you, or anything.

How does one go about finding the right color combinations without risking career annihilation? Well, we don’t want to give away all of our secrets, but in the interest of sparing you the indignity of explaining to your bosses why your logo disgusted your entire demographic, here are a few tips to picking the best, brightest and most enticing colors.

Remember what Different Colors Mean

Different colors evoke different emotional responses. For example, red is commonly used to convey alarm or passion. Purple is commonly associated with royalty, and is generally thought of as stately and dignified. Green represents freshness, environmental awareness or cash, depending upon your political affiliation.

Think of your targeted consumer base when picking your colors. If your market is young girls, perhaps a feminine and romantic color scheme—maybe involving pink—would suit your logo best. An adult customer might respond to muted, subdued or cool colors. If your audience is middle-aged or older, you might want something bright enough to override the effects of cataracts.

Bright colors do attract attention, but bold colors can be just as effective. Believe it or not, black is bold. It is also beautiful.

Keep it Simple, Sweetie

Complexity is fine for foreign film plots, but it’s death for logos. Two or three complementary colors are generally the maximum amount the eye can handle. A kaleidoscopic pattern may look cool and unique, but consumers are constantly assaulted with multi-colored images, products, apps and screen savers; you don’t want to cause any seizures.

Logos that use multiple colors successfully often use a cascade of related colors, or colors that have a common association, like a rainbow pattern.

Make Sure Your Colors Are Easily Accessible

The world applauds creativity. Unfortunately, sometimes creativity comes with a cost. If you’ve mixed a special color for your logo—a subtle variation of violet that’s a touch less purple but with an iridescent sheen—we can virtually guarantee you that every single printing of your logo will be slightly and annoyingly different. Furthermore, most computers are still unable to depict all colors in the spectrum. If you’ve selected a specialty color, prepare yourself to find that every monitor displaying your logo will radiate back a color you didn’t anticipate.

If you’re interested in keeping your logo design both visually appealing, consistent and economical, we suggest selecting one of the 256 colors that are considered web-safe. 256 is a huge assortment, and it’s not the specialness of the color that necessarily matters; it’s how the colors you’ve selected relate to each other and to the design you’ve created.

Get Feedback

Sadly, the most important opinions regarding logo designs are not those of graphic designers; the most important opinions belong to the general public. Every graphic designer has come up with a logo design that is pure artistic genius and perfect in every respect, only to have it shot down by some band of consumers who know nothing. Whatever.

All kidding aside—yes, we are proud of our designs and we are confident that we are more than capable of producing a logo that is not only stylistically pleasing but also appealing to the consumer. However, we value the input of people who aren’t affiliated with design because they tell us how the public will look at our work.

Show your logo color scheme to your associates that aren’t affiliated with your brand or product and see how they respond. Even if you’re totally sold on the colors you’ve selected, if your private focus group looks at them and utters a collective “eww,” you might want to reconsider.

Color selection is both an art and a science, but there’s no indecipherable code involved; there is only judgment and taste. Pick colors that look good, make sense for your product and brand and can be duplicated exactly and your logo will be off to an excellent start.

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

Purposefully selective, we work with brands that want to stand out and also stand for something.

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