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The Psychology Behind Logo and Color Choice

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Some professionals scoff at the importance of branding in business.

For many investors and analysts, this area of marketing seems fluffy and intangible, which makes it very hard to measure any potential benefits. While it’s true that quantifying intangibles is not always easy or accurate, it doesn’t mean that branding has no value to begin with.

In this way, branding may be comparable to the concept of “leadership” in sports. Athletes like Mark Messier, Michael Jordan, Ray Lewis, Mia Hamm, and Steve Yzerman weren’t just good players from a technical perspective, but they also had intangible qualities that elevated the performances of their respective teams. While it is hard to measure work ethic, passion, leadership, drive, and loyalty, or how these qualities rub off on teammates, it’s still clear to many coaches and managers that intangibles help win championships.

Like leadership, we know good branding when we see it, even though it can be tough to quantify. Coca-Cola is recognizable and nostalgic, while the Starbucks name may be the difference in choosing their cafe over an average-looking coffee shop in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

The Psychology Behind Logo and Color Choice

Logo and color choice are two of the most important parts of creating a quality brand. Today we have two infographics from The Logo Company. One shows the five major forms of logos, while the other dives into the meaning behind color choices.

We’ll add some commentary on the implications of logo and color choice in of the areas below.

Five logo styles

Companies cannot control the actual emotional responses to their brand on a personal level, but they can do their best to control shape, style, and color to at least guide these interpretations.

In fact, our brains are hardwired to learn and memorize new shapes, so the way a logo is presented can have a big impact on its effectiveness. The five major types of logo forms – brand marks, word marks, letter marks, combo marks, or emblems – are a way to control shape and identity.

Word marks, for example, have the name of the company in the logo itself without any imagery. This helps achieve brand recognition, while the lack of accompanying graphics may convey a sense of sophistication to consumers.

Using just initials in a letter mark can show even more sophistication. Leading luxury consumer brands such as Louis Vuitton or Chanel have used this with much success.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some companies use just a brand mark to convey a sense of universality. Even though “Shell”, “Apple”, and “Nike” are not spelled out in name, their famous icons are known throughout the world. The Nike swoosh conveys movement, while the World Wildlife Fund can tell a powerful story just by using the famous panda in its brand mark.

Target is another instantly recognizable brand mark. The simplicity and circular shape are key elements to the design, but the bright red color also plays a role. Here’s a guide to how color can evoke different emotions in consumers:

Color Emotion Guide

One step further, here is another version with a little more nuance, from Web Designer Depot.

Color Meaning Table

Of course, colors can and do get interpreted in different ways. However, they can also have the power to represent broad ideas for cultural or evolutionary reasons.

In a previous post on the psychology of color, we dive into this in more depth. For example, it explains why the color red stimulates appetite, or why blue brings a sense of productivity and efficiency.

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Politics

How Do Democrats and Republicans Feel About Certain U.S. Industries?

A survey looked at U.S. industry favorability across political lines, showing where Democrats and Republicans are divided over the economy.

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A cropped chart with the percentage of Democrats and Republicans that found specific U.S. industries "favorable."

Industry Favorability, by Political Party

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Much and more has been written, in the last decade particularly, about the U.S. political sphere becoming increasingly polarized. The two main parties—Democrats and Republicans—have clashed over how to run the economy, as well as on key social issues.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Democrat and Republican voters are also divided on various U.S. industries, per a YouGov poll conducted in 2022.

Between November 7-9th of that year, the market research firm polled 1,000 adult Americans, (sampled to represent prevailing demographic, racial, and political-party-affiliation trends in the country) on their opinions on 39 industries. They asked:

“Generally speaking, do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the following industry?” — YouGov Poll.

In this chart we visualize the percentage with a favorable view of an industry minus those with unfavorable view, categorized by current voter status.

A higher percentage means more Democrats or Republicans rated the industry as favorable, and vice-versa. Negative percentages mean more respondents responded unfavorably.

Democrats vs. Republicans on Industry Favorability

From a glance, it’s immediately noticeable that quite a few industries have divided Democrats and Republics quite severely.

For example, of the sampled Democrats, a net 45%, found Higher Education “favorable.” This is compared to 0% on the Republican side, which means an equal number found the industry favorable and unfavorable.

Here’s the full list of net favorable responses from Democrats and Republicans per industry.

IndustryDemocrat Net
Favorability
Republican Net
Favorability
Agriculture44%55%
Trucking27%55%
Restaurant53%54%
Manufacturing27%53%
Construction23%49%
Dairy45%46%
Higher education45%0%
Technology44%36%
Food manufacturing15%37%
Transportation27%37%
Railroad37%35%
Mining-3%36%
Automotive19%36%
Grocery35%22%
Hotels30%35%
Textiles24%34%
Entertainment34%-17%
Shipping24%33%
Retail31%31%
Book publishing30%29%
Alcohol23%16%
Television22%3%
Waste management15%22%
Education services21%-16%
Wireless carriers19%19%
Broadcasting17%-30%
News media17%-57%
Airlines11%3%
Oil and gas-28%7%
Real-estate-2%6%
Utilities2%6%
Health care3%4%
Fashion4%-6%
Cable-12%3%
Finance2%-2%
Professional sports1%-2%
Insurance-12%-14%
Pharmaceutical-18%-14%
Tobacco-44%-27%

The other few immediately noticeable disparities in favorability include:

  • Mining and Oil and Gas, (more Republicans in favor),
  • Entertainment, Education Services, and News Media (more Democrats in favor).

Tellingly, the larger social and political concerns at play are influencing Democrat and Republican opinions about these parts of the economy.

For example Pew Research pointed out Republicans are dissatisfied with universities for a number of reasons: worries about constraints on free speech, campus “culture wars,” and professors bringing their politics into the classroom.

In contrast, Democrats’ criticisms of higher education revolved around tuition costs and the quality of education offered.

On a more recent note, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, a big Harvard donor, pulled funding after criticizing universities for educating “whiny snowflakes.” In October, donors to the University of Pennsylvania withdrew their support, upset with the university’s response to the October 7th attacks and subsequent war in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the reasons for differences over media favorability are more obvious. Commentators say being “anti-media” is now part of the larger Republican leadership identity, and in turn, is trickling down to their voters. Pew Research also found that Republicans are less likely to trust the news if it comes from a “mainstream” source.

But these are industries that are already adjacent to the larger political sphere. What about the others?

U.S. Politics and the Climate Crisis

The disparity over how the Oil & Gas and Mining industries are viewed is a reflection, again, of American politics and the partisan divide around the climate crisis and whether there’s a noticeable impact from human activity.

Both industries contribute heavily to carbon emissions, and Democrat lawmakers have previously urged the Biden transition to start planning for the end of fossil-fuel reliance.

Meanwhile, former President Trump, for example, has previously called global warming “a hoax” but later reversed course, clarifying that he didn’t know if it was “man-made.”

When removing the climate context, and related environmental degradation, both industries usually pay high wages and produce materials critical to many other parts of the economy, including the strategic metals needed for the energy transition.

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