Welcome back to the 3 Colours Rule blog! This week, I’m rounding out the latest series of blog posts by focusing on tech startup brand design and colour psychology.
By now, hopefully you have a good understanding of what makes up brand foundation, brand positioning and brand messaging. These are all the aspects of your brand strategy, the distinguish step in the D.A.C system. Now you’ve got to distil and present all of that in a visually engaging way with an attractive brand design.
Reflecting your brand strategy in your brand design
The most important thing that you need to know about brand designs is that they have to be completely in line with your brand strategy, primarily your brand positioning. Your logo, your font, every aspect of your design will have a subconscious meaning and association in the heads of your audience. If there’s a disconnect between the positioning of your brand and the design, it’s an immediate turn-off for customers.
Your messaging and your core values will also have a major role in determining your brand design, especially your colour choice (more on that later). Your design will invoke an emotional reaction, so you better make sure it’s the right one.
Creating a logo
Your logo is the symbol that identifies you to the world. If you have any hopes of your business being recognisable, you need a killer logo, no two ways about it. There aren’t a lot of rules as to what can and can’t be in a logo, but that doesn’t mean that making a logo is necessarily easy.
There are some fascinating stories behind the logos of some of the world’s most recognisable brands. Back in 2008, British Petroleum spent a whopping $211 million dollars for their logo. On the opposite end of the spectrum Nike, who have one of the most popular logos in the world, got theirs for $35 in 1971.
Amazon hides a clever little trick in their logo. They offer the widest variety of products anywhere on the internet, so the arrow underneath their logo literally goes from A-Z.
The first step is deciding what kind of logo you want. Text and visuals? Just text? Just visuals? If you’re going to use text, what kind of font will you use? If you’re going to be using visuals, what kind will suit your brand best? Take a look at all of these brand’s logo’s to see just how many options are out there:
Feeling a bit overwhelmed with choice?
For inspiration and guidance, look at your market. Look out for patterns and rules that the logos follow. See what’s worked and what hasn’t, what consumers connect with and what they don’t. A deep look at your market should give you the information you’ll need. You can use this information and apply it to your unique values, culture and vision. The key to logo design is finding a balance between industry norms and differentiation.
Your positioning, messaging and the market you operate in are the three factors to keep in mind when you’re choosing both the font and the visuals of your logo. Let’s look at some examples.
Here are some of the biggest brands in the mobile phone space’s logos. Notice the similarities?
How about if you compare them to some of the biggest names in fast food?
In each case, and in each distinct market, there are clear motifs in the font choice, colour schemes, and overall design of the logos.
Remember, it’s a balancing act. Too similar, and you won’t stand out. Too different, and you’ll alienate yourself.
Font and typography
Within your brand design, you need to set out a font that will be used on your website, in your content, and across all your other promotional materials. A consistent font throughout your marketing activities will create brand cohesion and recognisability.
Just like your logo, your font should reflect your company. Let me show you what I mean.
This is the kind of font you might see a bookshop have. Think Waterstones. It’s traditional, and it conveys a feeling of establishment and formality. This font would work great if those are the feelings you want associated with your brand. However, for tech startups, that might not be what you’re aiming for.
A font like this might be more appropriate. It’s modern and it reflects a company that’s looking to the future.
Now neither one of these fonts is necessarily better than the other, but they would each only work with very different kinds of business and in very different markets.
Just for fun, here’s a few brand logos all with the comic sans font. Notice how drastically it changes your perception of the brand?
Did you know that distinct colours increase brand recognition by 80%?
The thing is though, it goes so much deeper than that. Brand colours aren’t just about recognition, there’s a deeper psychological effect that the colours of a brand have on us. In fact, we make up our mind on a brand in 7 seconds purely based on their colour choice. That’s all you get. 7 seconds before your target customers make up their mind on whether they like you or not. And it’s all subconscious, we’re not even aware that we’re making these judgements. It’s because each colour has a meaning attached to it, a deeper meaning that gives us an emotional reaction. Stop signs are red because in that context it represents danger. On the other side of that coin, Cupid’s arrows are red because red is also the colour of love. We attach so much meaning to colour, and brands can take advantage of this.
Here’s a breakdown of the main colours and what they mean for branding.
Red: Power, Strength, Determination, Passion, Love. Used by a lot of food and drinks companies to stimulate people’s appetites.
Yellow: Joy, Happiness, Intellect, Energy. Used to invoke a feeling of cheerfulness.
Green: Growth, Harmony, Freshness, Hope. When BP did their $211 million brand re-design, they chose a predominantly green logo to curb some of their environmental faux pas.
Blue: Stability, Trust, Loyalty, Wisdom. Blue is a favourite of investment banks to create a feeling of security and stability.
Purple: Power, Nobility, Luxury, Dignity. Cadbury’s signature purple wrappers are there to attach a luxury feeling to their chocolate.
Orange: Fascination, Creativity, Determination, Stimulation. Used for brands that want to put creation and fun at the forefront.
Grey: Balance, Formality, Conservativeness, Sophistication. Apple uses a simplistic grey logo to mirror their high tech product line.
Black: Elegance, Formality, Mystery. Used by brands like Chanel and Prada to reinforce their high brand value.
White: Goodness, Innocence, Purity, Cleanliness. Often paired with black to create a simplistic, refined feeling.
Pick colours that reflect your brand and fit within your market. In terms of how many colours you should have in your brand logo, avoid having any more than three: A primary, a secondary and a tertiary. It’s most common to have white and black as two of the colours, and then one other, dominant colour. Think of this as something of a ‘3 colours rule’ (get it?).
Our name isn’t an accident, and you can actually see the three colours rule in our logo. We use red as our dominant colour and white and black as neutral colours.
The red in the logo is for the passion we have for what we do.
The white is for trust and the speed of our delivery.
The black is for our professionalism and skillfulness.
Think long and hard on what you want your colour choice to say about your business.
If you’re running a tech startup but aren’t clear on how to communicate your positioning and messaging in your brand design, don’t panic, we can help you! Our expertise are in branding and neuromarketing, which means we know what it takes to develop brand identities that accurately communicate all the elements of your brand strategy. Fill in the form below or get in touch if you’d like to hear more.
That’s all for this week! Check back in soon for the next update where I’ll be breaking down the best practise for pricing your products or services according to pricing psychology.
In the meantime, sign up to our newsletter for weekly updates sent straight to your mailbox, or get in touch with any questions on social media or by filling in the form below.
3 Colours Rule is a branding and marketing agency specialising in growing tech companies and start-ups. Beyond our brand strategy, design and marketing services; we also have a podcast: Tech Brains Talk where our founder has conversations with experts and entrepreneurs in tech. We also have a branding and marketing academy to support marketers expand their skills and entrepreneurs too. We also run our non-profit organisation, TLA Black Women In Tech, one of the fastest-growing communities for black female professionals and entrepreneurs in tech.