Everything’s better in color, right? Newspapers, photography, TV, and film all started in black and white, and gradually moved from sepia-toned to Technicolor to color. Color images are more brilliant, more lifelike. The advertising world boasts logos full of color. Some logos, like Google, are multi-colored and change depending on the day! It seems that once color became an option, plain old black simply wasn’t good enough anymore.
It’s true, black does have many negative connotations. It is literally the color of darkness, a color worn by witches and vampires and linked to evil and mourning. There’s the Satanic “Black Mass.” No one wants to cross paths with a black cat. Black Tuesday was the day the stock market crashed and the beginning of the Great Depression. No one wants to be blacklisted or be the black sheep of the family. Centuries ago, color became a symbol of wealth and opulence – rich, bright colors were expensive and only the nobility could afford deep purples and reds. Everyone else was stuck with grays and blacks.
But does all this negativity mean that the color black is bad? While some see it as the absence of color and light, it can also be seen as the absorption of all color and light. And in a way, its negative connotations have helped make it cool. Black also suggests sophistication, mystery, and intrigue. It is worn by judges to convey the importance and seriousness of their position. It is worn by many religious groups as a symbol of simplicity and humility. Food and beverage makers and even clothing lines promote their limited edition or special release items as “black label.” And what woman would be without her “little black dress?” Black is a popular word in the names of musical groups: The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, and The Black Crowes, to name a few.
The term “Black Friday” is a perfect example of how bad press yielded a positive outcome. The term was originally coined by law enforcement. The mad shopping rush consistently resulted in mayhem: traffic jams, accidents, and even violence. Storekeepers didn’t like this negativity and repurposed the phrase to mean something good: profit! After the busiest shopping day of the year, many businesses were “in the black.” They went even farther and marketed it to the public. Really, retailers were given a gift. “Black Friday” rolls off the tongue much more easily than “the day after Thanksgiving shopping and sales.”
What does all this mean for your small business? It means you shouldn’t be afraid to use black in your logo. There’s a lot to be said for having a colorful, eye-catching logo. But maybe using black will make you stand out from the crowd. If you’re not sure, Angry Ape Creative can help! Logo design is one of our specialties, and we’ll help you create unique images and colors that best represent who you are and what you do.
Jay Bilunas is a graphic designer and marketing consultant. He loves helping small businesses succeed with great marketing and design. He also teaches and tries to help up and coming designers.