color and branding

When you start a company you try to think of everything.

Of course your product or service is paramount, but there are plenty of other things to debate, discuss and decide. Where will your offices be? Who will you hire to run the day-to-day operations? What will you have for lunch?

You’re probably thinking of everything but what color your logo should be.

You might be tempted to choose your favorite color or the colors of your favorite sports team. But before you do that, do your homework. Certain colors can lead to misconceptions of your company — and others could bolster your mission.

Top Colors For Unicorns

Unicorn companies, those companies that are valued over $1 billion, don't seems to put a lot of thought into their branding and colors.

The vast majority of them have black or gray logos — a risky move considering these colors are associated with evil, death and mourning. These companies include Uber, Palantir, WeWork, SoFi, Vice Media, Credit Karma and Jawbone.

Blue is also popular among unicorns. Blue has long been the safe color for sterile corporations like Blue Cross Blue Shield, AT&T and Forbes.

It is thought to be productive and non-invasive and is associated with water and peace. Unicorns including FlipKart, SpaceX, DropBox and SnapDeal all have blue logos.

What Colors Mean

So what's the meaning behind the color? Glad you asked. Let's look at red, yellow and green.

Red

  • Passion or Love
  • Encourages Appetite
  • Evokes Strong Emotions

Yellow

  • Has been shown to make babies cry
  • Cheerful/Warm
  • Can cause eye strain or fatigue

Green

  • Has been shown to affect health positively - particularly gastrointestinal health
  • Tranquility, Nature
  • Money

Perception Is Everything

Brown may represent wholesomeness and earth, but it can also signify boredom.

White can create the illusion of space.

Purple, long associated with royalty, can signify wealth and success.

Orange can be associated with enthusiasm but can also mean caution.

So who cares? You should. When you're designing your company's logo and branding, you have to be careful which color combination you use.

Brown and orange may have looked great together in the 1970s, but you run the risk of two negative associations — caution and boredom — working against you.

If you really like orange, pair it with purple so you’re more likely to get the association of success and enthusiasm. Isn’t that what your company’s mission is about anyway?

Branding Fuels Company Success (Sometimes)

Uber is the fastest growing startup in history, climbing to $62 billion since it started just a few short years ago. How much their logo contributed to their success may never be known, but it doesn't seem to have held it back much.

These days Uber is adding in a splash of color to its branding, but its main logo is still basic black.

At the end of the day you just have to go with what works. Learn more about the psychology of branding colors in unicorn companies from the following infographic.

perceptions of color