There are entire academic disciplines devoted to studying the influence of color on society. Psychologists can tell us the best colors to paint a room (depending on its purpose), what color of tie to wear to a job interview, and how the colors used in advertising emotionally influence an audience. These rules for color are driven not only by the human psychological condition, but also by culture and context. For example, red means “danger” in many Western cultures, but it means “party on!” in some Eastern cultures. Contextually, a certain shade of green means “safe” in some instances, but another shade of green could mean “poison.”
Similarly, fonts (typefaces) are designed to express specific emotions and meanings of their own. Elegant, important, playful, serious, secure, young, expensive, down-home, exciting, impactful—you name the meaning you want to convey, and there is a font out there that says it perfectly. These sentiments can be further influenced by the weight and style of the font, how it is customized to the message, and whether it is graphically manipulated to better deliver its meaning.
Now, the combination of color and font adds another layer of complexity. It’s a tricky business getting them to complement each other, let alone adding symbolism through a graphic logo. When it’s done wrong—when thoe elements don’t match—you notice it.
So, how do you go about picking the colors and fonts for your company’s logo?
Plenty of articles and websites talk about the psychology of color and the intricacies of typefaces. But it’s not just a matter of saying, “I manufacture and sell pot-bellied stoves, so I want my logo to be burnt orange and the font to be old-fashioned.” Your logo and its design elements—fonts, colors, graphics—all need to be saying the same thing, defining the message, representing your company’s mission.
What you should be asking is:
- “What do I want people to feel emotionally when they see my logo?”
- “What do I want people to think about when they see my logo?”
- “What impression about my company do I want viewers to take away from my logo?”
Answer those questions first, and the font and color will follow naturally, with the help of a professional designer.