Want to come across as professional, warm, intelligent, fun, expert, and competent? That’s a lot to communicate with just one logo! Designers use logo components (typeface, graphic, type treatment, and color) to send a variety of messages at once. When the elements harmonize, people respond to the messages you’re trying to send.
Color is a design fundamental. Most people know that hot colors (red, orange, yellow) “approach” and cool colors (blue and purple) “recede.” If businesses are trying to make a splash, they may choose bright yellow or screaming magenta to grab people’s attention. The problem is that few people want to be screamed at!
Black and white are the first colors our eyes distinguish. After that comes red. All cultures have names for black, white, and red. (Not all cultures have names for green, for instance—it’s more difficult to distinguish and may not be part of that culture’s surroundings). Consequently, the combination of black, white, and red is a power trio, getting attention and striking deep emotional chords.
Not everyone wants to be that grabby, though! Blues communicate stability and trust, and are often used by financial management companies. Purples are associated with spirituality and power (relics of the Roman empire). Greens are associated with (surprise) vegetation and are often used by environmental organizations. Oranges are friendly and approachable, but too hot for widespread use. They’re most often used for food products. And yellows are associated with the sun: bright, cheerful, and simple. They’re often used by businesses trying to reach kids.
Good color choice is affected by your target market. In general, the broader your market, the more pure the color. Mass market color schemes favor primary colors. Color schemes for kids amp up primaries to flourescents and other high-intensity hues. Upscale markets respond to muted palettes that have subtlety. Starting with the basic ROYGBIV color spectrum, designers use tints, saturation, and combinations to communicate with your target market.