We supply our brand clients with their logo in black as it’s a business staple that at some point we are sure you will need to use. We always start with black. It doesn’t matter what we are designing, a brand identity, an illustration, a brochure, we always start on a blank page and begin sketching in black – either directly on the screen or on paper with ink or lead. It’s the starting point for our creativity to flow, but what does black mean?
The History of Black
Let us take you back to the history of the colour black… it was one of the first colours used in art. Even in prehistoric times – artists used charcoal to create cave drawings and document their lives, although the use of black is from necessity or no other colour being available for the use of art, so there would be no meaning behind the colour black at this moment in history (in terms of art that is!)
Black is translated as cruelty and evil in Latin and the root of the word atrocious. It is not very difficult to see that this gave a very strong meaning to the colour black. You can see this depicted in medieval art where the devil was painted in black. There is a strong association of black that still exists today in some capacity. For example, black triggers strong emotions such as sadness, anger, fear and despair. We still, mostly, wear black for mourning and it is often tied to Halloween and frightening imagery.
Fear not, however, small business owner! Using black for your brand does not mean that people will fear you (unless of course, that is what you’re going for!) The colour black has so much more positivity than you may have realised.
Sophistication and Fashion
In the 14th century, Europe laws were passed that stopped nobility from wearing coloured clothing and with the invention of high-quality black dyes – the Italian bankers began wearing black to show how important they were. It wasn’t long until Kings began to also wear black to show this elitism. This rings true today with the symbolism of black bringing sophistication, power, elegance and authority. Just think about the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the brand Chanel!
Some brands that use black
If you look at luxury brands, many will use the colour black. It signifies their importance, their one of a kind sophistication, the top 2% of the population – you have to be very rich to buy from us, kind of personality. It shows authority and power but also a sense of mystery, we want to know more – instinctively. Black is very popular in retail because of this mystery and the sophistication side. Who wouldn’t want to look more mysterious and sophisticated? When it comes to Uber’s brand, the black really added to their mystery and authority. These guys know how to get you from A to B!
Visibility Like No Other
With the invention of the Guttenberg printing press, the first-ever book printed and not written by hand was printed in black ink on white paper. When the first computers were designed, they originally had green text on a black background, which was quickly changed to black text on a white background. When you mix black with white – it instantly softens the bleak symbolism of black and in return allows graphics/text to be easily read and importantly imparts real energy to your visuals. The sheer starkness of black and white is unlike any other contrasting colours. It makes everything so clear and concise that when both colours are used for a brand, it loses the fear of symbolism and brings with it trust.
Does Your Brand Suit Black?
So our advice to you, if you are thinking of going with black as your primary brand colour, is to really think about what you are selling, can it work with the many meanings of black? Also, consider adding white to your brand to add that subtle change in meaning. A little black can be perceived as a brand that has authority, trust and is grounded and centred. A lot of black can give a sense of power, elegance, sophistication but also fear, rebellion and frightening emotions.
I shall leave you with a quote from Henry Ford “Any colour, so long as it’s black”. There is a lot of power in the colour black – use it with purpose.