Logo Design - Colour Theory 1

So you want to explore a brand for your company with a new logo design or stationery set but you're wondering what colour/s you should use? Well let the experts here at Brand In A Can shed some light on the subject!

Colour has the most obvious aesthetic impact on the perception of your business. And it is perception that is the key for through branding, setting a perception is our primary goal. 

Meaning of Colour

Colour has intrinsic meaning to people everywhere in the world and strangely what one colour means to one person, might be completely different to another depending on where they are demographically. If colour means a certain thing to one person, then it is easy to assume that it should mean a similar thing to another person brought up in a similar environment. And this is true for the most part. However what happens if you must think about a completely different culture in your design.

For this writer, having been brought up in a predominantly Westernised world, certain colours have been given one set of meanings. For the most part, pink means girly, blue is for boys, green means natural, healthy or good for the environment, red means warning and so on and so forth.

Take red as an example. Here in my Western world, red is used for all emergency warning signs. Red is the colour of blood, sprayed on our screens in violent movies. Red is a strong colour and for the most part, brings a negative connotation. However move a few countries over and in China red symbolises good fortune and joy. Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays and family gatherings. A red envelope is a monetary gift which is given in Chinese society during holiday or special occasions. Red is strictly forbidden at funerals as it is a traditionally symbolic colour of happiness. Brides even wear red wedding dresses, which you would very rarely see here!

The process can be referred to as enculturation. When one is raised their whole life and everywhere around them a certain meaning is placed on a colour, then that is usually the association that be held for that person their whole lives. And when they interact with their world they will place that same meaning on the colour and so the cycle repeats itself. Obviously it is hard to escape such associations such as blue of the sky, or green in plants etc.

Do Your Research

A tip for logo design is to know where your logo is meant to be seen. If that place is somewhere local then it is easy to know what colours mean. Simply ask yourself, what does the colour mean to you? Easy.

If you are targeting a foreign part of the world however for your logo design, research must be done to find out what certain colours mean in that particular culture.


Another factor of colour that you must be aware in logo design or branding is the intensity of the colour. Unsaturated, pastel colours gives a friendlier tone and also lends well to an old vintage effect. Or at the other end of the vibrance spectrum, fluorescent colours tent to be more modern and funky. They can give your design an edge. But use fluorescent colour wisely (and tastefully) because ironically they can also make a design appear dated and tacky. 


Hopefully that helps in your design, whether it be a logo, billboard, advertising or branding.


Good luck and happy designing!


Brand In A Can



July 23, 2014 by Paul Cattanach
previous / next