[The following post is a review/critique on Dom Carter’s article “What happens when famous logos swap colour palettes,” which is currently available on Creative Bloq.]
Logos are the eye-candy of a product or company when marketed to the public, and they’re often the more memorable element of a marketing campaign other than a commercial jingle or a tagline. More importantly, the logo is a visual representation of a company’s values and goals. The brand’s message should exude effortlessly through the typography, graphics, and color of the logo so that it may reflect that message to the target audience.
Dom Carter of Creative Bloq writes in his article that choosing the right color palette is fundamental in creating a brand that people want to engage with, as well as a brand that will be successful and remembered for years to come. However, choosing the wrong color palette for your logo design could bring undesired consequences, such as an unsatisfied client—and no designer wants that!
Imagine choosing the wrong colors for a website design or mobile app. No situation is worse than the other, but the pressure is surely more ten times greater. So how do you avoid choosing the wrong colors and choose the right ones instead?
The Power of Color Theory
Carter suggests that when it comes to deciding which colors will work for your brand, you’ll need “a solid grasp of [color] theory.” In a nutshell, color theory is understanding how different colors work together to create certain visual effects. We’re talking about your multi-color combinations, color schemes, color-mixing, and color wheels. Everything under the rainbow—and on it.
Once you understand color theory, you’ll be able to determine the right colors for your brand and what those colors imply in relation to the brand’s message.
In the same article, Carter reports on T-shirt printing agency Printsome and their experiment to prove how important it is to choose the right color scheme for a brand. Along with a graphic designer, Printsome swapped the colors of famous logos—such as Amazon with Netflix, for example—to see what effect the switch would have on each brand’s message after the fact.
Now ask yourself: How does the swapped colors change your perception of Amazon? Of Netflix? Do you get the feeling like the change is unsettling but you can’t quite put your finger on why or what’s wrong with either logo? Whatever guess you make is likely correct because:
“Colors have a huge impact on how customers perceive taste.” – Dom Carter
When I see the color palettes having been swapping for both logos, my perceptions of those brands are altered drastically. Amazon’s monotone appearance implies that the company is like any other brand out there, and we lose the value of the swooping arrow underneath “a” and “z”. The multi-colored scheme of Netflix’s logo is off-putting, let alone unnecessary. You can read Printsome’s brief but solid analysis of this swap here.
As mentioned in Carter’s quote earlier, colors have an impact on how customers perceive a product or service, in sight as well as taste. Colors also have symbolic meaning, emotional resonance, and multiples roles in design other than making the design look attractive.
Colors carry a lot of weight that we as designers can’t take for granted. Whether you’re drafting your next logo or clicking through color swatches on Illustrator, if you find yourself struggling or simply wanting to bring the best results to your clients, refresh your knowledge on color theory, head back to the drawing board, and resume chasing that rainbow.
Color Theory Resources
Not sure how to go about learning the principles of color theory? Don’t worry; I’ve got your back. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- “Color Theory for Designers, Part 1: The Meaning of Color” by Cameron Chapman (Smashing Magazine – Parts 2 & 3 towards end of article)
- “The fundamentals of understanding color theory” by Kris Decker (99designs)
- “How to master colour theory” by Sam Hampton-Smith (Creative Bloq)
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