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Corporate Color Theory

Ever wonder why the IBM logo is blue, rather than orange? Or why Yahoo’s is that particular shade of purple? Or how about this: Why do some companies (like Nintendo) opt for monochromatic color schemes, while others (like Google) embrace vibrant palettes with multiple colors?

You can be sure that these things don’t happen by accident. When choosing colors, designers lean on psychological principles and cultural implications all the time to create effective, engaging logos. The way in which colors interact with one another also comes into play with multi-colored logo design. It’s a gray area between art and science that designers have been exploring for decades. So what are the colors in our favorite logos telling us?


The competent colors. Tech companies in particular tend to choose simple blue color schemes in their logo design. Blues (particularly dark blues) are calming, inoffensive, and professional looking. See Intel and Samsung for reference.


If young and fun is the name of the game, orange is a logical choice. It tends to get used alongside shades of green to create a fresh, light aesthetic. The sodas Crush and Fanta both employ this color scheme to convey feelings of refreshment.


Yellow is close to orange in terms of color temperature, but it carries distinctly different connotations. Many restaurants (McDonald’s, most notably) use yellow in their logo design as it’s believed to stimulate appetite. Yellow, the sunny color, also tends to convey friendliness and lightheartedness.


Unsurprisingly, green tends to get used by companies who want to highlight their connection with natural products and practices. Greens also tend to communicate peace and ethical integrity. Of course this isn’t always the case in practice (take BP, for example), but it can’t hurt to try.


Like yellow, red is believed to stimulate the appetite, so it frequently appears in the logo design for restaurants and food retailers. Red is arguably the boldest color a company can employ in their logo design. It is particularly common in China, where the color red is associated with good luck and prosperity.

Having a working knowledge of color theory can be enormously advantageous when it comes to designing a new logo. Take a look around our portfolio page, and consider why we choose the colors we do for each of our client companies. Different people interpret colors in different ways. See what they say to you!