Building Your Brand with Color
Updated: Jul 17
When it comes to brand development and logo design, few things are as important as the colors you choose. Your brand colors set the tone for your business. That’s why so many fast food restaurants have red logos: Red is said to stimulate the appetite, making potential customers hungrier and more likely to stop by.
Let’s take a look at all the colors on the color wheel, and what they each represent and evoke.
Red is the color of passion, fire, and love—not to mention McDonald’s. But seriously, don’t let red’s association with fast food scare you away. Red can make a stunning and forceful appearance in many logos, whether the business is food-related or not. Red is an energizing color that catches the eye. That’s why many people will choose a red lip color or red dress at special events when they want to make a big impact. Its connotations go beyond romantic passion, translating nicely into passion about your business venture.
Pairs nicely with: orange, yellow, purple
There are few colors as peaceful as a deep, rich orange. Orange is a combination of energizing red and cheerful yellow. It represents creativity, intuition, and emotional balance. Orange evokes the serenity of watching the sun rise and set. (Can you tell it’s one of my favorite colors?) As human beings, we naturally feel uplifted and energized by the color orange.
Pairs nicely with: navy blue, red, white
Yellow is the color of happiness and sunshine. Many would argue that it’s the most cheerful color, and I would agree, but it’s important to use it both sparingly and carefully. A bright yellow (think highlighter) should never be used as the centerpiece of a logo or brand because it’s so hard on the eyes; however, it can make a nice accent color when used in small quantities. A deep, creamy yellow can work as a standout color in many cases, evoking feelings of joy, optimism, and clarity.
Pairs nicely with: red, blue, gray
Green is among the most ubiquitous colors in nature, which makes us associate it with growth, renewal, and freshness. Green is said to be the most restful color for the human eye, perhaps due to its omnipresence in our natural world. It makes us think of some of our favorite sights, like the forest and plants in bloom. It’s a color that brings us back to our roots in nature. You’ll often see green in brands that promote a natural philosophy or environmentalism for this reason.
Pairs nicely with: blue, orange, purple
There’s a reason why blue is the most common pick for favorite color. Blue is the color of the sea and the sky, evoking a sense of calmness, tranquility, and depth. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, and intelligence, which is why many companies choose blue for their logos—it creates an air of authority and confidence around the brand. Blue has a calm stability that makes us think of the slow rise and fall of crashing waves.
Pairs nicely with: different shades of blue, purple, green
Full disclaimer: purple is my favorite color by a long shot. If it comes in purple, I’ll probably buy it. Purple combines the calm stability of blue with the fierce energy of red, creating something that is equally peaceful and passionate. Purple is often associated with royalty, wisdom, pride, and femininity. It is a mystical and otherworldly color, making it highly intriguing to us as human beings. Many people believe that purple brings us closer to the divine.
Pairs nicely with: blue, green, red
Pink is one of the more underutilized colors in branding. It symbolizes universal love, whether that means friendship, romance, or self-love. Pink evokes feelings of compassion, nurturing, and understanding. It combines fiery and passionate red with peaceful and insightful white. Pink is traditionally considered the most feminine color, which makes it perfect for businesses that appeal to a sense of femininity. But pink also comes in a variety of shades that range from quite feminine to more gender-neutral, like peach, which happens to be my favorite shade.
Pairs nicely with: white, orange, gray
The neutral colors—black, white, gray, and their variations—are less evocative than the aforementioned colors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Neutrals can work as a great pairing with most any color, particularly if you want that color to stand out without having to compete. I’d steer away from using a neutral as your central color, with some exceptions; for example, every now and then I’ll see a vintage-style black and white logo that looks fantastic. Otherwise, with so many beautiful colors to choose from, neutrals don’t feel quite as exciting.
Pairs nicely with: just about anything!
About the Author
Suzette Feller is a Marketing Consultant at Parklife.