The colour black and its meaning

The colour black, although widely argued as not a colour, is a colour that is mysterious and secretive and can psychologically give protection from emotions due to its ability to absorb all colours. In this blog post, I will be discussing black and how it influences our branding.

black is powerful

Black is not really a colour, it absorbs all colours and thus makes it quite powerful at keeping all others out. It tends to make viewpoints and sales less open to discussion and more one way such is the power of black.

It is believed that black absorbs negative energy and is often worn by teenagers due to the difficult emotional transition they are going through and stops negativity from affecting them as much.

Although black is an absorbing colour it is also a colour that demands respect due it its simple sophistication and statement that it can deliver to be uninfluenced by others. Just think of ‘the little black dress‘ or the ‘black bowtie and suit’ and you will instantly think of sophisticated dress and evening events.

Maybe this is why the designer of James Bond also chose him to wear a black tuxedo and the intro to be seen through a white hole on a vastly black screen. A mysterious and sophisticated spy maybe?

The colour black in business

the horse in ferrari is black

If we consider a business that already uses black in their branding we can see how black has been used successfully in their brand. Famous black logos include L’oreal, Calvin Klein, Lexus, Emporio Armani, PRADA and Jean-Paul Gautier, all of these famous brands have text-based logos and ooze sophistication and glamour from the use of black.

Black is a very clinical colour and makes those who look at it think this is a company that is confident in its product/service and has technical expertise in its industry.

 The colour black in nature

black panther

The colour black in nature is most associated with the darkness of the night and the feelings of being unsafe and at unease. This colour is rarely found in natural environments in the completely black colour because even something that is black is likely to have the pigment of either red-green or blue due to the colour being light.

For example, even the black panther, believed to be one of the most feared animals in the wild, is also not entirely black. The panther is a creature that is so strong it can lift its prey from the floor of the jungle and into a tree thus enforcing the fact that black is related to ultimate power.

Interestingly bats also tend to be associated with the colour black but sometimes are brown. Bats, as we know, usually come out of very dark caves and are an animal a lot of people are afraid of. Does the colour black have anything to do with it?

Likewise, many house spiders also share this colour and we all know how we feel when we see one of those critters!

How the colour black is represented

the colour black

Black can be a very good colour for a brand that offers their customers protection, comfort and strength or sophistication and seduction but being so powerful must be carefully applied due to its power to overwhelm and create discomfort in its viewers if overused which can lead to pessimism and distrust, sadness and even a negative stance towards your business. I would recommend that black be used sparingly if possible unless there is a very good reason for it to be the main colour of your brand.


 The colour black and its cultural representation in different countries

In the west black is the colour of mourning and is the colour that is enforced to wear when attending a funeral.

When we think of black alone it can create fear and thus relate to evil or the dark arts as it is all-engulfing of all the colours of the spectrum. Just imagine Darth Vader in a red costume rather than black would he have been so terrifying or maybe he would have been a very angry Vader instead?!

In China the colour black is associated with water, the north and winter. It is also the colour that is more traditionally associated with boys rather than the west’s blue.

In the Aztec culture of South America, it was the colour of war due to the black obsidian glass that was used as the cutting edge of a sword.

How black can affect our mood

Black, as discussed, can make us feel dignified, sophisticated and even a little bit empowered but in a negative stance it is believed that if we are confronted with black too often we can become pessimistic and depressed so should ideally be balanced with another colour.

 When to use the colour black in your branding

It is in my belief that the colour black should be used in your business brand if you are portraying a sophisticated product or service, a business that gives its users the feeling of power, improves the seduction skills of the customer or has a serious overtone that must avoid emotional connections entirely.

I hope this brief article about the colour orange has been useful, do you have any other points that you think may be useful to someone thinking about using orange in their design work? Please comment below.