Choosing a Color Scheme for Your Nonprofit’s Logo

What colors should you choose for your nonprofit’s logo? This seemingly simple question becomes more complex when you consider the powerful effect color has on human psychology. One study shows that people make decisions about products and other people within 90 seconds of initial contact, and that 62 to 90 percent of their judgment is based solely on color.

Clearly, it’s important to consider your logo colors carefully. To aid the process, ask yourself the following questions as you consider color choices for your nonprofit’s branding.

What is your nonprofit’s purpose?

Marketing studies have proven that people respond better to colors that are considered appropriate to a brand. Choosing logo colors that reflect your nonprofit’s purpose will reassure donors that you are competent at pursuing your mission.

For example, if your organization is concerned with protecting oceans or rivers, you might want to consider using blue and aqua hues in your logo. If you are a kids organization, bright primary colors might be most appropriate.

What emotions do you want to elicit?

If you can’t think of any obvious colors related to your mission, think about the emotional “color” of your purpose. Are you a social justice organization involved in fighting legal battles over serious human rights issues? Consider stark black and white, with perhaps a splash of warning color, as Amnesty International does in its logo.

Choosing a Color Scheme for Your Nonprofit’s Logo: Amnesty International Logo

However, another social justice organization focusing on humanitarian aid might do better with calm, peaceful colors such as blue and green, as Habitat for Humanity uses.

Choosing a Color Scheme for Your Nonprofit’s Logo: Habitat for Humanity Logo

Who are your donors?

Choosing colors that appeal to your support base really can help maximize the support you receive. It pays to study your existing supporters and determine what colors may be most appropriate to them. For example, if you depend on corporate support, you may want to choose a corporate-looking logo with colors that radiate stability and trust: blue, navy, maroon or silver. For a younger, adventurous donor base, bolder colors may be more appropriate.

What colors are other nonprofits in your field using?

Check out your competition. Are they all using similar colors in their logos? If so, see if you can figure out why. If there’s a very compelling reason, it’s OK to use those colors, too – but you may want to add a unique, contrasting color to make yours stand out. American Rivers’ logo is a good example. The bright orange and yellow in its logo stands out among water protection nonprofits. However, the blue squiggly streak running through the center retains the reference to water – and its mission.

Choosing a Color Scheme for Your Nonprofit’s Logo: American Rivers

You can choose to look completely unique and go with a different color scheme altogether. However, if you do this, remember to keep the colors appropriate to your organization’s purpose and spirit.

Choosing colors that will represent your nonprofit is a big decision. As you go through the process of designing your logo, take your time and get feedback from as many design experts and potential donors as you can. Whether you end up using the colors you had in mind from the start, or going with something you never would have imagined, the extra care you take now could really make a difference in your nonprofit’s success.

Todd Turner of LogoMagnetTodd Turner is the President of LogoMagnet, a custom design magnet company that produces and distributes magnets for schools, non-profits, sports teams and more. Want to write for Design Roast? Click here to learn how.

Featured image: Theo Curmudgeon

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