Why Logo Color Matters: Understanding the Value in Building Brand Identity and Shaping Perception


Posted on January 6, 2016

When I think of iconic brands, the first thing I imagine is their logo. More specifically, I imagine their logo color—the white and red swirls of Coca-Cola, yellow arches of McDonald’s, the gold crown of Rolex, the simple blue square of Facebook. Logo colors speak to us, telling us a story about the brand, about values, and about identity. Tangerine’s distinctive orange, for example, sets it apart from the blues, greens, grays, and blacks of more traditional financial institutions, suggesting a youthful energy while paying homage to its Dutch roots. The Starbucks logo was originally brown, but when the company merged with Il Giornale they dropped the “tradition-bound” hue for a more “affirming” green.1 Some colors become so deeply connected to the identity of a brand that merely a glimpse of the hue calls to mind the rich history of company. The robin’s egg blue that serves as the background for Tiffany’s name printed in plain black has become so intrinsically linked to the brand that it is now known all over the world as Tiffany Blue, symbolizing “elegance and exclusivity.”2


Brands are increasingly coming to understand the importance of sensory marketing, with many investing in methods that appeal to consumers’ bodily sensations to make vital connections between emotions and products. The power of color, in particular, to draw customers is well-documented: 84.7% of consumers say that color is their primary reason for buying a particular product and 80% believe that color increases brand recognition.3 The importance of color extends not just to the product itself, but to the logo, whether it is incorporated within the product, packaging, retail environments, websites, or in advertisements. In fact, the logo may be more powerful than any single product, as it stands in for the company as a whole and sets the mood for consumer encounters across media. By drawing on our pre-existing psychological lexicon, color can be deployed to invite particular reactions and inform relationships with consumers, acting as chromatic symbols of a brand’s priorities and behaviors from the first glance. As such, market researchers and designers spend considerable time, effort, and often money finding the perfect hue to represent their brand and project their desired image into the world.

Logo Color and Consumer Perception

However, logo color can do more than simply shape consumer expectations of potential company behavior; it can alter how actual company behavior is perceived. A study published in the Journal of Business Ethics examined the impact of logo color on assumptions of company values as well as perception of corporate business practices.4 In the first part of the study, research subjects were shown a fictitious logo in varying hues and asked to identify which logo projected an image of eco-consciousness. While green was a popular choice, blue was the most strongly associated with environmentalism “despite the frequent use of the word ‘green’ to convey that idea.” Once the researchers determined which colors were perceived as environmentally friendly, they designed a second experiment:

Respondents were asked to share whether a fictitious retailer, DAVY Grocery Store, acted ethically in various morally ambiguous scenarios, such as spraying water on produce. Subjects only saw the logo for DAVY, which was presented in either an eco-friendly color or an unfriendly color.

This is where the study truly became exciting. The researchers found that logo color had a significant impact on the respondents’ perception of DAVY’s behavior; when the grocery store was represented through an eco-friendly logo such as blue or green, the ethically ambiguous scenarios were more likely to be regarded as ethical. In other words, while logo color shaped consumer perception of the company’s ethics prior to knowledge of the company’s practices, that perception then became the lens through which company practices were viewed regardless of the company’s actual intent. As such, color appears to serve an even more powerful role than previously realized

Bolstering Brand Identity Through Color Measurement

When your company has selected the ideal color scheme for your logo, fortifying the connection between your brand and your logo color requires consistent and accurate reproduction of that color across media and materials. Not only does color harmony amongst disparate logo appearances create a visually pleasing effect, it also strengthens brand recognition and encourages consumers to build a visual relationship with your company. HunterLab spectrophotometric instrumentation offers for precise measurement of color within all types of surfaces, from paper to metal, textiles to plastics, glossy to matte, making it possible to create perfect color matches, ensure consistency, and overcome color matching challenges. By replacing subjective visual assessment, spectrophotometric analysis can act as a common language that allows your logo colors to be reproduced across multiple locations anywhere in the world with remarkable ease and accuracy. 

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