Psychology of Color: What It Really Means to Your Branding Strategy.
Marketing bloggers, graphic designers and entrepreneur-focused websites continually opine over the importance of the color that’s selected when creating a company logo. They often advise start-up companies to think long and hard about the kind of feelings that they would like their brand to elicit.
Of course, marketing consulting firms also include in their posts a call to action, recommending that these companies contact them for an exhaustive brand analysis and logo discussion, which could ultimately cost many thousands of dollars. That's money most small businesses don’t have.
What Colors are Appealing to Customers?
A study, titled "Brand Personality: Consumer's Perceptions of Color Used in Brand Logos," conducted by Jessica Ridgway and published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology & Education, reveals the different emotions that logo colors elicit.
- Blue: Trustworthy, warm, happy, energetic, playful
- Green: Healthy, protective, passionate, dynamic, exciting
- Pink: Fun, trustworthy, passionate, prestigious, reliable
- Red: Passionate, justice, secure, energetic, stable
- Yellow: Energetic, trustworthy, secure, healthy, protective
- Purple: Playful, secure, justice, stable, fun
What Makes a Good or Bad Company? It's Not Your Logo.
Here is the key insight which these bloggers, graphic designers and marketing firms seem to keep ignoring: The impression a customer has of your company doesn't begin and end with your logo.
What is the real value that your company brings to your customers? That is one of the key components of a company's success and what you need to focus on.
If your product doesn't work or you provide lousy customer service, the fact that you were trying to express playfulness with your purple logo doesn't mean anything.
Blockbuster Video’s logo was blue and yellow. Circuit City was red. Eastern Airlines was blue. Woolworth's was red. Did the color of their logo provoke such a love for these companies that they continue to thrive today? No. They’re gone. All for different reasons of course. Some for failing to innovate. Some for poor customer service. Companies cease to exist for a wide variety of reasons—none of which is because of their logo color.
How to Build a Brand Identity
Blog posts and marketing conversations often start by suggesting that choosing a logo color is the first step in building your brand. As a result, many start-ups include it as a major hurdle to overcome on their top 10 list of things to do as they’re launching their business.
If you think you are going to build a brand on the back of your logo color, you are mistaken. Neither corporate management teams nor Madison Avenue-style marketing agencies can create brands.
Your brand, if your company is successful enough to become one, is built by your customers. It is the shared reaction of your customers to the collective value that you provide through your products and services, customer satisfaction, support and all other aspects of your business. Branding is a positive emotional response that will not last if the true value to your customer isn't felt by them.
A few years back, while heading up the marketing department at the IT business services division of a Fortune 500 company, I was part of a team conducting focus groups with business and technology executives on corporate positioning. We were fortunate to work with Sterling Brands and its strategy group president, Austin McGhie, who wrote a book titled Brand Is A Four Letter Word: Positioning and the Real Art of Marketing. It’s a great read and a very insightful look into what it truly takes to build a brand—having nothing to do with logo colors.
Yes, your logo may subconsciously say something about your company, as can the fonts you choose and any associated images but, at the end of the day, your logo alone will not help your business grow and thrive. As Austin puts it, “You can only sell sizzle for so long. Sooner or later a person’s got to sit down and eat.”
Your logo color is the sizzle. Your products and services, your employees, and how you treat your customers is the steak, or the pizza, or whatever you like. Don’t get so caught up in the sizzle that you forget the steak.
About the Author
Lisa Masiello is an award winning tech industry marketing strategist, start-up advisor and founder of TECHmarc Labs. She writes on B2B growth, channel management, marketing strategy, customer experience, and CMO success. Chat with Lisa by email at Lisa.Masiello@TECHmarcLabs.com. Connect with her on LinkedIn.