Take a moment to think of your favourite brand. Or maybe, a brand you remember seeing recently. Or maybe, the most famous brands in your region, or the world.
When you picture these brands, the odds are high that you’re remembering their logos and brand colours. All you need is to hear the word ‘Coke’ and you’re ‘seeing’ their vibrant red and swirly font in your head.
Likewise, all you need is to see a logo, and you see the brand, their values, their personality, even their services or products.
Take a look at these:
If you spend a lot of time online, you probably recognised them pretty fast (if you don’t know, they’re Google, Facebook, and YouTube respectively).
It’s not surprising that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Humans are visual creatures. We evolved the ability to see colour so that we could tell when fruit is perfectly ripe. Now, we use colour as signals; red means stop, or be careful; green means go. And in the same breath, blue means Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and red means Coke and YouTube.
Because we’re such visual creatures, colours, in combination with shapes, have come to represent everything from road signs to brand logos. When your brand creates its logo, it’s creating the thing people will visualise when they think of your brand. It’s creating the face for your brand, its purpose, vision, values, and personality. “A logo is a symbolic representation of your brand — be it the product, people, culture, its history — and the choice of colours should strategically align to how the brand wishes to be perceived or experienced, for example: blue is often seen as professional, yellow is energetic or youthful,” explains HKLM Senior Designer, Denton Pretorius.
Colour has the power to set your brand apart, too. “The marketing world is saturated with brands and businesses competing for attention,” says Denton. “Colour helps define and differentiate brands for easy identification.” In other words, colour can make you stand out from your competitors. If SoundCloud were green, instead of orange, you might think it’s affiliated with Spotify, not competing with it.
Designers consider all of this when constructing a logo, but there’s a little more to it as well. Every designer has their own way of dealing with colour. “For me half of it is intuition and the other half would be thorough industry insights and colour theory research,” Denton points out.
A lot of brands use colour well, but for Denton, Kulula and Mango, “stand out as successful brand colour choices, being visible from the ground when they’re in flight.” And you can rest assured that was strategic.
Colour, in combination with shape, ultimately represents your brand. It will be what consumers first picture when they think of your brand. It will be the first thing consumers see of your brand. There are a lot of questions to ask when designing a brand logo, but probably the greatest of them all is: what do you want to say?