Color is one of the most powerful tools companies have to help reinforce their brand. It works by subconsciously creating feelings and emotions in customers. And for this reason, brands pay careful attention to the message they want to convey with their choice of colors.
One of the most interesting things about color design and branding is that the same color can have various meanings depending on the industry and context it’s used in. You’ll find blue in nearly every industry, such as airlines, pharmaceuticals, and communications. But the feeling it provokes varies greatly depending on the situation and the message the business wants to promote.
Some research has uncovered that color plays a much more significant role than previously thought. The shade used in a logo can impact how consumers perceive the brand by up to 80%. With this number in mind, it’s no wonder that companies put so much time and effort into choosing a color scheme that best represents them and showcasing what customers can gain from them.
Why context matters
The role of context in the battle for branding is also important to understand. Some companies enjoy a much higher level of branding than others, known as an evoked set. These are the companies that consumers first think of when starting the buying process. For example, if a consumer wants to purchase a new lawnmower, their first thought might be to look at John Deere, Black&Decker, or Husqvarna.
What’s interesting is that all three logos have entirely different color schemes. If each company were to follow the same color scheme, their branding would be indistinguishable from each other.
Brands need to juggle the delicate art of choosing colors that evoke specific feelings while still remaining unique in their industry.
Sometimes though, consumers expect brands in an industry to employ a specific color. Otherwise, they won’t even be considered a viable option. Another reason for the vast range of colors is that the brands are targeting diverse types of audiences. Different kinds of people resonate and respond better or worse to colors than other types of people, which is why you’ll often see such a diverse range of colors within an industry.
Let’s look at five different industries and the sets of colors they use to evoke feelings from consumers:
In the restaurant industry, brands overwhelmingly use the color red, followed by green, blue, and then an assortment of colors like purple, black, yellow, and orange. Why is red such a popular choice? It’s an invigorating color and is believed to stimulate feelings of hunger in people.
It’s also easy to see, which is vital when restaurants need people driving and walking by to notice their signs. When driving down the highway, you’re bound to see the McDonalds logo even at fast speeds. Its red and yellow combination is easy to spot even at large distances.
Green is another popular choice because we often associate it with health and feelings of wellbeing, which is why it’s used by restaurants that focus on healthy eating. On the other end of the spectrum, colors like blue and purple (used by Basking Robbins) cause us to think of sugary foods like desserts.
The communications industry covers a broad spectrum of companies, from internet and phone companies like BT to the manufacturers of tiny components used to build devices like radios and satellites.
Just like the restaurant industry, there’s one color businesses use in their branding above all others: the color blue. And there’s a simple reason why. Blue is most commonly associated with clear communication – a trait highly sought after by customers shopping in this trade.
Black and silver are more colors you’ll commonly find in this industry. They’re both shades that, when combined with blue, highlight strength, security, honesty, and dependability.
It may not come as a complete surprise, but silver is the most used color among the top 10 car manufacturers. It’s an obvious choice as silver represents wealth and luxury, as well as high-quality workmanship. Consumers often use their cars to showcase their wealth and spending prowess.
Sports-focused brands will use red in their logo as it’s a masculine color used to convey authority, power, strength, and speed. Blue is also used as it’s a color that portrays trust and efficiency. Car brands that focus more on excitement, creativity, and eco-friendliness use shades of green and yellow.
The colors used in the car industry are more varied, but the top brands still rely on silver, red, and blue as their main choice.
The cleaning industry covers many different areas, from washing carpets in privates homes to industrial cleaning solutions involving chemicals and complicated machinery. But still, there are specific colors employed that have clean and positive connotations to help companies brand themselves towards consumers.
Blue, green, and white are all common colors used by cleaning businesses. Their associations with nature, water, purity, and dependability are a perfect match. Their target audience may also expect to see one of these colors in the logo.
Less popular colors like yellow and purple are also used to grab attention, which is vital for competitive industries like cleaning. Check out these examples of cleaning logos to see what we mean.
The pharmaceutical industry has to brand itself around the concepts of health, energy, and hopefulness. In this trade, there’s a wide range of colors used. While green is the go-to color to promote health and healing, brands will find it impossible to distinguish themselves if they all use the same color.
Pfizer and GE Healthcare use blue to promote cleanliness, health, and wellbeing. GlaxoSmithKline’s use of orange endorses feelings of happiness and youthfulness while also coming across as confident. MSD, TEVA, and MERCK are companies that use green – which is the strongest color we associate with health, nature, and healing. To help distinguish themselves, these companies will use different shades of green.
As you can see, each industry has its own color preferences when it comes to branding. The logo and color palette has to be carefully thought out and planned beforehand, as each shade and combination creates unique feelings and impressions on customers.
Brands that focus their efforts on attracting targeted audiences typically perform better. By focusing their attention on a smaller slice of the audience pie, they’re able to zero-in on specific attributes and emotions that resonate with them.
For brands where this isn’t possible, such as airline companies or communication companies, you’ll notice they stick to 1-2 simple colors to generate the most significant positive impact with as many people as possible.
When designing your logo and generating your brand colors, take note of industry trends which may be expected of you, while at the same time ensuring your branding remains unique and innovative.