Updated: Jul 2, 2021
You would be hard pressed to find a designer who would say that color doesn't really matter. If you do... kindly back away slowly until you are at a safe distance to run. Color is very important. Colors communicate emotions and feelings that people experience, typically without even being able to put words to it.
Color Theory is the science and art of using color. It dives deep into human perception and color association with certain emotions. It lays out how colors mix, match and contrast. Sounds great, right. Can't be that hard.
Just search "Color Theory" on Google and you will find a wide variety of color wheels nicely labeled with emotion words. There are even some nifty charts that will give examples. These are good resources and I have quite a few of them laying around my office.
Those good resources are not without their limitations though. Let's look at just two additional examples of what you need to consider in regards to color:
1) A color by itself can communicate one way, but once that color takes shape, it can communicate something entirely different. If you use red in the shape of a heart, it is warm and passionate. If you use red in the shape of a droplet, it is medical and urgent. Same color, two shapes and two completely different meanings.
2) A color in one culture could communicate one way, but entirely different in another. You need to think about your target audience and how they would perceive the colors you want to use. For example, in North and South America as well as Europe red is generally associated with love and passion. In China, red represents luck and fertility. In African cultures, red generally represents death and grief. In Nigeria and South Africa red is associated with violence and sacrifice.
You see how this can get a little sticky, right? Colors do matter and there are lots of different factors to be considered. Does this mean you need to hire a color expert when choosing colors for your brand... No. Does it help to work with a designer that understands the many layers of color... Yes.
An easy way to avoid any major color issues without getting a professional involved, is to test colors with members of your target market. Any time you are considering a new logo for your venture, it is a wise idea to test it with people that represent your primary target markets. The larger the sample, the more likely you are to identify any issues before you have it printed on 1,000 business cards and hung a 10 foot sign of it out front.