How do you decide on the best colours for your logo? There are no hard and fast rules, but knowing something about colour theory and which colours work well together can save you a whole lot of time and money when you’re creating your logo and brand.
Although there are countless combinations of colour available to us, there are two types of theories to keep it simple and easy. They are complementary and harmonious. Let’s discuss each:
Complementary colours are those that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Say, for instance, that you really want to use blue in your branding and you’re not sure what other colour would work well with it. For a complementary blend, you’d choose orange. Remember the old Telstra combination? That particular blend is corporate and communicates professionalism and success. Of course then you can use different levels of saturation so that you might use a sky blue with a terracotta orange, or a deep blue with fluorescent orange. Changing the tone of the colours can completely change the feeling, or mood of your branding.
There are three basic complementary colour blends that will always work well together, they are:
• Blue and Orange
• Red and Green
• Yellow and Purple.
Notice that each of these three blends consists of a primary colour (red, blue and yellow) and a secondary colour (orange, green and purple). Blending two primaries together creates secondary colours, for example green is made with blue and yellow.
Analogous or Harmonious Colours
Using three colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel creates harmonious colour blends. This combination gives a more gentle and softer brand and is most commonly used for businesses associated with health and nature. An example would be the use of blues and purples; the colours are similar and have a common primary colour (blue). Rule of thumb is to choose one dominant colour, a second colour for support and a third for an accent.
Another way to decide on the brand colours most suited to your type of business is to look at the attributes of colours, their meaning and how your audience interprets them.
Here are seven colours and their attributes.
Red is the colour of passion, it stands for power, love, energy and fun. If your business is all about enthusiasm and action, then like Coca Cola, red is a great choice for you.
Blue indicates trust, reliability and intelligence. Think IBM; it’s corporate, confident and professional. Other attributes of blue include loyalty, peace and authority.
Green is for growth, organic, natural, fertility and relaxation. That’s why green is used a lot in beauty and wellness branding, it’s the colour of youth, luck and healing.
Yellow is sunny, happy and bright. Think energy, joy, warmth and intellect. Yellow is often used in children’s branding, it’s a primary colour, the colour of creativity and light.
Purple is rich, luxurious and wealthy. Purple is also the colour of spirituality and magic, it’s mysterious and inspiring with a touch of soul. Purple is a great colour for those businesses in spirituality and connected-ness.
Orange is a strong colour, its attributes are determination and potency, success and vitality. Orange is encouragement and productivity and suits businesses that are strong and proud. The French love orange.
Pink is the feminine of colours, it exudes calm, stillness, serenity and peace. It’s caring, accepting and loving. That’s why pink is often the chosen colour for women’s health brands such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
With just this basic understanding of the psychology of colour and the combinations that work best together, you will find that developing your brand and choosing your colours will be a lot easier and clearer.