We worry a lot about hue, saturation and value as designers, but there’s one aspect of color theory that designers often overlook: the TEMPERATURE of the color. This is important because, not only does it establish the mood of the logo, it greatly adds to the visual hierarchy, which is critical in good logo design.
Warm colors from the active side of the spectrum tend to come forward visually. They tend to agitate and convey emotions, sometimes unpleasantly (see the dental logos below). In nature, we see these colors when things are changing, i.e. a sunset, autumn leaves, and volcanoes.
Passive, cool colors like greens and blues recede. They instantly have a calming effect. They’re comforting and nurturing. Too much of it will relax the audience TOO much (see the BigShots logo below), so it’s best to liven it up with a dash of a warm or at least neutral color. In nature, we associate these passive colors with life and water.
You can balance the effect of these colors with neutral colors like grey, brown, ivory and beige. Their flexibility helps to tone down colors that might otherwise be overpowering. Let’s take a look at some examples to see how this works.
Here, the surfer is seen FIRST. The emphasis is on him. This is because the hot yellow will always stand out against a cool blue background.
In this version, the emphasis is paced on the setting, and not the surfer. We focus on what the surfer is looking at-in this case, a beautiful warm sunset.
This next logo is a good example of mixing the warm and cool to bring out certain areas. The dark purple provides a calming base, and the TECH portion stands out so the viewer can instantly see this is a technology-based company.
You need to decide what overall emotion you want to convey. Sometimes it will be excitement and fun, like this logo. Which one conveys those emotions more effectively?
We try to find emotional words in the creative briefs from our clients, and base our colors on those. As you can see from these examples, it’s pretty important. You can see more examples of great logo design at BusinessLogos.com.