Logo Design Colors and What They Mean!

Colors are an integral part of our lives. The colors found in nature are important to us because we have adapted to survive in nature!


In the modern concept, manipulation of colors to get a desired effect is believed to be both subjective and technical. Basically, the multitude of colors we see are divided into groups:

Primary colors (colors in their own right; they cannot be made by mixing other colors) — red, yellow and blue;

Secondary colors (colors we get by mixing the primary colors) — green, purple, orange, etc.; and

Tertiary colors (colors we get by mixing the primary and secondary colors).

And the main bands of colors are six: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, and according to Sir Issac Newton, (1642-1747) mathematician and physicist and one of the eminent scientific intellects of all time, there are seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet. But the popular pattern with which an artist creates an ever-lasting colorful impression holds up to a set of twelve colors: black, grey, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and azure.

An expert on colors stated that: Colors by themselves are not a fundamental property of light but are often related to the physiological response of the eye to light. The color of an object depends on both the physics of the object in its environment and the characteristic of the perceiving eye and brain. It is believed that the human eye can distinguish thousands of different colors – shades, hues and tints! Most humans have three types of color receptors, the organs that receive colors and transmit them to the brain, but many animals, such as some species of spiders, some marsupials, birds, reptiles and several types of fish, and some human females, have four types!

It is interesting to know that a person’s perception of the color of any object depends not only on the spectrum of light reflecting from its surface but also on a number of contextual cues so that the color is perceived as relatively constant. This effect is known as “color constancy”. For example, when we think of milk, we think of it in ‘white’ color, but not in any other color; when we think of blood, we think of it in ‘red’, but never in black, blue or green though there are some animals whose blood is other than red; when we think of a leaf of a plant, we see it in green in our mind’s eye. Just because we are now able to define color and give it a colorful terminology, it does not mean that the concept and use of color are new phenomena. And in the present modern societies, color is in every aspect of life in general – just try to imagine how difficult it would be to have all ‘white’ toothbrushes in a family of four, they can never know which is whose, and how hard it would be for you to find your own car in a parking-lot when all the cars are painted ‘black’! In nature, the animals have mastered the art of camouflage by having colors or by changing their colors to suit their surroundings, and some animals are with bright body colors, usually yellow and red, to warn their predators that they are toxic and so should be avoided.

The colors the first people (according to the records available, between 40,000 and 10,000 years B.C.) used mostly were: red, black and white. The Magdalenian painters, the people who were supposed to have lived between 18,000 and 10,000 years B.C. and drawn pictures of animals on the faces of rocks in the open, and on the floors, walls and ceilings of the caves in several places across Europe, used yellow and brown. By using crude methods and raw materials – minerals found in the earth, water rich in calcium, vegetables and animal oils – these cave painters of Magdalenian were able to produce awesome “polychrome art”!

Though there has never been an undisputed explanation for the purpose of drawing these paintings, one very strong explanation we all must agree to is that ‘art’ is a form of expression and man needs to express his thoughts in one form or through one medium or the other;

Colors have been an integral part of the human societies since prehistoric times. From stone-age man, cave man, man in ancient civilizations to the present computer-man, all have been influenced by colors and all have used colors in their everyday life.

The man in primitive societies used color for war-paint (drawing colorful designs on their face and body in order to frighten the enemy and also to show off their status), for decorating the deities, shrines, idols, totems; the man in the medieval societies used color for their clothes, for decorating their dwellings, and more importantly, for representing themselves in other social activities, such as war, sport, traditional ceremonies, etc. Though there has been no agreement on the purpose of drawing these cave paintings, the time period and the material used among the experts, almost every eminent historian and art critic opines that the awesome colorful cave art was thought-provoking and probably this art later became the ‘father of religion’!

The eye receives the light reflected from the surface of an object and sends it to the brain which then acts or reacts by creating impulses depending on the ‘color’ the light brings in, which, in turn, control the person’s or animal’s behavior. It is like we smile at a smiling baby but turn away from or wince at a crying baby. The same way, studies have shown that people react in different ways to different colors. [This assumption may also depend upon the culture, time period and religious aspects.] It is a proven fact that when we see items of food in red color, we tend to get hungry faster and drool more than when we see food in pale colors.

Some of the most common colors and the methods (positive and negative)’ they generate in people and animals are:


GREY

Positive: solid, intelligence, modesty, practicality, maturity

Negative: old age, obsolete, rusty

BLACK

Positive: mystery, secrecy, tradition

Negative: fear, evil, death, mourning

BLUE

Positive: power, calmness, success, trustworthiness {the most common and most liked color}

BROWN

Positive: earth and nature, simplicity, seriousness

Negative: drab, uninteresting

GREEN

Positive: harmony, health and healing, nature, prosperity, money

Negative: greed, jealousy

ORANGE

Positive: affordability, fun, youth, creativity, celebration

PURPLE

Positive: royalty, justice, fantasy and dream, luxury, wealth

RED

Positive: excitement, action, adventure, love, passion, food

Negative: danger, death, caution, anger, hunger

WHITE

Positive: simplicity, cleanliness, innocence, purity, peacefulness

Negative: death, mourning (in certain cultures)

YELLOW

Positive: cheerfulness, playfulness, curiosity, amusement, intellect

Negative: flashy, carelessness, harmful {the most difficult color for the eye}

PINK

Positive: femininity, flamboyance, openness, friendliness

Negative: carefree, demanding attention


Colors & Computers:

People who work with colors in their profession or occupation should have some basic knowledge of the science of colors and color combination, and how colors influence the moods of people and animals.

Colors change to different shades and hues depending on the material they are projected (printed) on. A certain color may look pale when it is used on a piece of cloth that absorbs liquids, and the same color looks bright when it is used on a glossy paper, and yet looks with a different hue when used on a plastic sheet. And a color combination made on the computer screen may not be the same when printed on a paper – it is not that it changes into a different color, but gives out a different shade or hue.

To gain mastery over the use of color combination, an artist, painter or logo design team or logo designer must have some basic knowledge of the dynamics and terminology of the color and color combination. Some of them are as follows:

Chromatics” – the study of colors physiologically; “color psychology” – the study of identifying the effects of color on human emotions and activities; “chromatic therapy” – using color psychology scientifically (‘chromatic therapy’ is used as a form of alternative medicine attributed to various Eastern traditions); “color theory” – the art of color mixing and the visual impact of color combination; “color code” – a system for displaying information using different colors; “color contrast”; “optical illusion” – a condition in which the eye (the perception of color or vision) is manipulated into believing something that is not there or something that is not what it actually is; and so on.

Colors and Website Design:

When it comes to web-designing on computers, designers had been encouraged to stick to the ‘web-safe’ colors which were a set 216 colors (colors with their shades and hues) commonly used. Therefore only 22 colors can be considered “really safe” colors to use in web-designing because they are relatively consistent.

A logo design is the most repeated and frequently displayed symbol of a business, and “color” plays a major part in creating a logo design.

A common mistake committed by many entrepreneurs is using more colors in their logo designs. Each color creates a single message or association. So if you are using 5 colors in your logos or brands, it will deliver 5 different messages. Unfortunately, consumers cannot handle that much perception.

The first thing you should consider in finding the appropriate color is your competitors. It is not wise to copy the color scheme of the leading brands for it will create an impression that you’re just a second-rate version.

Also, pay attention to the demographics of your market such as gender, age and culture. A trendy neon green might appeal to youngsters but painful to look at for your average grandmas and grandpas. In a way, it sets the limitation of the color you can use.

For more information about this topic I suggest you pay a visit to our other blog posts for it offers a comprehensive discussion of the dos and don’ts of colors and logo structures and what it all means.

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