People perceive power when they see the color black. Researchers once surveyed the stats for 52,000 professional hockey games. They found that teams who wore black jerseys received more penalties for aggression than teams that didn’t.

While color doesn’t technically exist (without our eyes to interpret, color would merely be light waves), it has a profound effect upon our minds. It can change how hungry we are, whether we find someone attractive, and it can even make us nauseous.

It follows that color in company logos could either attract or deter customers. Ask yourself, why are some logos more attractive than others? Most likely, it has a lot to do with the colors used.

Here’s what your company logo’s color tells your customers.

1. Your Logo Says You Smell Musty

A group of researchers asked 6 different cultural groups what odors they associated with different colors and vice versa. Across all six cultural groups, the answers were strikingly similar.

The group of researchers used smell markers and computer images. None of the colors or smells were labeled. This ensured that no semantic associations arose.

They found that color associations like brown for musty or pink for sweet were fairly universal.

If your business deals in food-based goods, you might want to be careful what colors you choose for marketing and logos.

2. Your Logo Screams GO!

When you take a look at the color orange, how do you feel? Colors often instill a sense that you should or should not do something. Researchers got curious about this kind of arousal and did a study on what kinds of emotions colors could incite.

They found that colors like yellow, red or orange incite feelings of action and arousal. These warm colors create associations in the brain with particular actions.

But the opposite is true of cool colors. If you’re looking to impune a sense of calm choose blue or a similar color. If you’re a psychiatrist who treats anxiety, you probably don’t want to use orange for your logo.

3. Is Your Logo Positive or Negative?

We’re all pretty much done with the Gap, I’m sure. But when you think of the gap, you see bright and airy. Their commercials always underlined this thought with white backgrounds and young people in pastels dancing around like life was nothing but cherry pie.

While their logo could have used a facelift, their general marketing color scheme shouted happy fun times. If you want to do the same with your logo, toss in bright colors.

Another group of researchers studied college students. They asked for associations with either dark or light colors.

The light colors elicited positive responses: happy, relaxed, excited. The dark colors elicited negative responses: anxious, bored, sad.

Unless you’re Hot Topic or a metal band, go for bright colors.

4. Double Up With Color and Letter in Your Logo

A weird and fascinating study found that we associate various letters with colors. They conducted this study on only English-speaking people, but it might have wider application.

We associate some letters with colors due to education. For example, if you’ve read The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, you probably associate the letter A with red.

We associate some colors with letters without any education. The researchers found that illiterate children associated X with black. They also found that children associated any nonsensical shape with white.

Illiterate children associate shape with color. This is how we naturally make associations. But once we’ve learned a new association, we re-map our brains and overwrite the natural associations.

If you’re a blogger, you’re targeting a more literate audience. Consider letter and color associations when picking your logo colors. A little bit of research could turn up a host of useful associations.

5.  Strength Vs. Weakness in Your Logo

A study done in 1973 showed a correlation between color and perception of strength. Red and Black are strong colors and they give people a sense of strength. But white, yellow, and grey are weak colors.

If you’re putting on a tough trail race, go ahead and put red and black in your logo. People will feel strong and want to participate.

6. Put Red in Your Logo If You’re Looking to Attract

Researchers have conducted a ton of studies on the color red. They universally agree that it creates a feeling of attraction and desire or at least enhances this effect.

One team showed images of women to men and men to women. They would show the same woman to several men but change the background color alternating between red and white. They did the same with women.

They found that people rated the same person more attractive in the photos with the red background than they did with the white. They tried the same thing with clothing, alternating white shirts and red shirts. Same effect.

Do Your Research

Putting the science of color behind your logos will greatly enhance your brand image. Do your research and be careful how you choose your colors. What works from some regions may not work for others.


By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.