Colour plays an integral part in our lives, and our personal and cultural associations affect our experience of colour. Colours are seen as warm or cool mainly because of long held (and often universal) associations.
In 1666 Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light was passed through a prism, it separated into all of the visible colours. He also discovered that each colour is made of a single wavelength, that couldn’t be broken down further into other colours. Interestingly though, light could be combined to form new colours.
Colours in their own right
Colours made by mixing primary colours
Colours made by mixing primary and secondary colours
Colours can make or break a design, so it is vitally important that you know what colours mean and what they communicate.
Positive - Tradition, strength, elegance Negative - Fear, death, angst
The most commonly used colour in logos Positive - Power, success, dignity, security
Positive - Health, healing, freshness Negative - jealousy, greed
Positive - Passion, love, food Negative - Anger, danger, hunger
Positive - Femininity, innocence, friendliness Negative - Careless, needy
Colour has been used in human society since pre-historic times, where man used colour to show their status, during war, and to scare away enemies. In nature animals use colour to camouflage and scare predators away. In modern society we use colour in practically every part of our lives - from helping with every day tasks to traditional, religious and ceremonial activities. For example, in Western cultures brides wear a white dress, yet widows in some Eastern cultures wear white dresses.
Colour can cause actual psychological changes to take place in human beings - this is known as chromodynamics. Studies have shown that people react instinctively in very different ways to colour. Blue rooms feel cooler than those painted in warm orange hues, and athletes exposed to the colour red before an event react with greater speed and force.
Although there are commonly used colour representations, you should not limit yourself to what these ‘norms’ suggest. As a designer you should chose colours that describe and represent your business’ personality the best.
Choosing colour is an art form, without limitation, that should break rules. The bold colours within the logos of Google and Yahoo were chosen for a reason.
A brands logo is the most frequently displayed and repeated symbol of any business, and colour plays a huge part in logo design. The right choice of colour is crucial because a massive 83% of all commercial communication appeals to our eyes only.
Failure to understand the science behind colour and colour combinations may mean you choose logo colours that scare customers off instead of welcoming them to your brand. The choice of colour is as (if not more) important than the logo design itself.