Logos play an important role when identifying a brand. Research suggests that your logo’s design—and especially its colour makes a difference. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway, who focused on a research in 2014 on the neural machinery behind colour, believes the science behind colour processing in human minds to be very powerful and completely underexploited.
The psychological aspects of colour have been mused upon starting from ancient times. According to research compiled by a web design and marketing company WebPageFX, people make subconscious judgments about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, while 93% these people made the judgement solely by visual appearance.
Take the fast fashion industry as an example.
In the fast fashion industry, products are all being characterized as trendy and up-to-date, with slight variation in terms of price and design. I categorized the brands and placed them to this positioning map. It is observed that brands that fall into the ‘basic’ and ‘affordable’ quadrate are mainly in red, while those in the ‘sophisticated design’ and ‘expensive’ are mainly in black and white.
The logic behind is simple:
Red – Is an association with excitement, boldness and strong emotions. Brands which set a low price and possess less sophisticated design like Uniqlo and H&M needs to encourage impulse purchase. H&M has up to 52 micro-seasons and adopts all-year-round on-sale strategy for its clothes, with each charging a small markup and earn by selling at ocean quantity. Thus, encouraging sales volume is crucial. Red increases one heart rate, symbolizes discounts and tends to generate the urge for customers to enter the shop.
Similarly, Coca-cola also adopts the same tactic throughout the years. Its classic red-bottle promotes positive feeling and encourage appetite.
Black and white – are association with elegance, premium, seriousness. Brands that possess sophisticated design and are sold at a higher price need to establish a premium image to create value for customers. Brands under Indetix Group including Pull&Bear, Bershka and the giant Zara all adopt mono-colour tone.
Another example would be Apple, who possesses a shiny black logo and aims at creating an image of superiority against Android products. Shop design also adopts white as the main colour to give a professional, premium image.
In the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, authors AI and Laura Ries mentioned a brand needs to ‘own’ its colour, not literally, but in the minds of customers. Cultural factors could affect interpretation of colours. White is the traditional colour for a bride in Western societies while this colour carries the meaning of funeral in Chinese culture. Therefore, when a brand go globalized, one should be aware of the difference in perception.
Apart from commercial brands, do you know there are also stories behind colour of each MTR station? According to an article by South China Morning Post “Why every Hong Kong MTR station is a different colour – the reason may surprise you“, MTR corporation used different rules to decide colours of station instead of randomly assigning one.
Mongkok, Central and Tsuen Wan use bold red as station colour to alert passengers they have arrived interchange or terminus.
Contextual colouring is adopted as well. For example, the ‘Wong’ in Wong Tai Sin station means yellow in Chinese and thus the station is in yellow; Choi Hung in Chinese means rainbow so the station uses rainbow colour instead of a single colour. Historical factor plays a part too. “Prince Edward” is in purple as purple symbolizes royalty in the past which matches with the meaning of station.