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Color it Wisely

Kapil Vaishnani
by Kapil Vaishnani  |  25th Mar, 2015 in Show

Color has a very symbiotic relationship with logo design.

Hut your eyes and visualize McDonald’s golden arches. Now, imagine if they had been yellow or purple or any other color. Would the burger chain be an international success with red-color arches?

Yes, because although colors don’t impact directly, subliminally, they make a strong imprint. Indeed, the primary colors of some logos can be more powerful than the logos themselves — think the red on Coca-Cola or the pink in Barbie or the rainbow color montage of Google — and you’d get the drift.

Color is integral to any corporate identity. So when your logo is red and flaming, yellow and cheerful, black and mystifying – its communicating something to the customer. The human mind is conditioned to respond to color. Colors and their thoughtful combinations stir emotions and tell a story. Recently, one of our clients, an interior designer wanted a dash of gold in her logo because to her, and we agreed with her on that point, gold symbolizes luxury. It goes well with the market she caters to.

Luxury brands, such as Chanel, Prada, Michael Kors all use gold, silver, black or white for the same reason – it resonates with their target customers.

Understanding your customers’ connections to certain colors could increase the effectiveness of your logo because colors play an important role in graphic design. Color can convey strength or compassion; desire or despair; laughter or sorrow. Depending upon what message you want to convey to your core customers, you must choose your color palette, accordingly.

Below are few hand-picked examples how to get color psychology to play in favor of your brand.

The red in Red Bull logo is very apt because it’s an energy drink. Any other color would not have justified the tag-line “Red Bull gives you wiiings!”

Color pink is important in Mattel’s Barbie logo because that’s universally the favorite color of all little girls. Stereotype as it may be, it makes good marketing choice and Mattel has reaped huge dividends from it. Even the typeface is deliberately chosen to represent a little girl’s handwriting.

Orange, likewise is the color of choice for Nickelodeon TV channel, another international player in the children’s market space. Orange also spells energy, fun, youthfulness is fun, lighthearted and youthful which appeals to the brand’s child audience.

Everyone knows the story of McDonald’s Golden Arches and slogan “I’m Lovin’ It”. Note again the liberal use of yellow with is OK for this brand as it caters mainly to children. Most quick delivery chains (Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s or Popeyes) if you’ve noticed make a liberal use of red and orange because it’s symbolic of hunger pangs – Hungry Kya?

The Hallmark company has purple in the logo to complement the slogan “When you care enough to send the very best.” Purple stands for royalty, and sophistication and the message gets further driven home with the use of the crown icon over Hallmark’s typeface. Cadbury’s appears to have chosen purple for the same reason – years of history and heritage.

Swarovski, in contrast goes with grey because it spells heritage age, and the century-old brand has a lot of it behind it.

Vodafone also goes with red, symbolizing animated speech, played up against a subtle silver backdrop that stands for sophistication.

Purple and Cadbury’s have been happy bedfellows since 1914, and woe betide any brand who tries to lay claim to it.

Let’s come to the white in Apple. It’s sexy and iconic. It speaks of the ultimate luxury that’s almost utopian.

Indian dairy brand Go’ makes for an interesting study in branding. Determined not to clutter its packaging, ‘Go’ shortened itself from ‘Gowardhan’ that’s more contemporary, at the same time, does not disclaim its association with the mother brand.

Kapil Vaishnani

Founder - Chairman, Litmus Branding Pvt. Ltd.
Kapil Vaishnani founded Litmus in 2001 to water his passion for creating brands. Kapil’s a creative brain hitched at business. He firmly believes that focused communication is the key and it must carry a purpose that serves both brand and business. Simplicity is Kapil’s power gear that has shaped some of the prominent brands in India and globally. His passion-filled sportsmanship with multi-disciplinary talent is brimming with experience of 20+ years. Talk sense and he is all ears.