Color is a huge part of design. It’s one of the first things your eye processes when you absorb an object.

And when it comes to the defining element of your brand, a logo, color communicates before people absorb the letters, numbers, and shapes.

If you feel like you see the same blue and black logo colors everywhere, you’re not imagining it.

I actually reviewed the logos for the top brands in America and found that most of them use the same colors. For my study, I decided to go through the Fortune Global 500 list as a benchmark for successful, recognizable American companies.

Fortune 500 (2019) Companies

The Fortune Global 500 ranks of the top 500 corporations worldwide each year. They measure according to revenue. See the current list here.

The results were fascinating.

Blue, Red & Black Dominate the Top 100

A quick visual assessment of the top 100 companies reveals that blue, followed by red and black are the most popular colors for logos. You’ll also notice that the shades of blue and red are very similar.

In fact, there were only a few companies in the Top 100 that deviated from these 3 colors.

This trend holds for the entire Fortune Global 500 list.

The Most Common Logo Colors

If you review all 500 companies, as I did, you’ll find that Blue (37%) and Black (31%) dominate the core colors for logos. Red is an obvious third at 13%.

Similar to the top 100, the tones of red and blue were also very close throughout the logos. Most were close to a pure hue.

Why are Black and Blue the most common colors?

There isn’t one contributing factor for the most common logo colors. However, there are a few chicken-egg reasons that have influenced this direction in design.

  • Printing History: Older, established brands began their promotions in the era of print. This meant that 4 color printing was more expensive. So, you would often see brands choose to do their logo in a single color or in two colors to save costs. Often, blue and red were chosen because they stood out against the black print of newspapers (the dominant medium.) These primary colors would print reliably and lend consistency to branding. Then, as the brands continued through the years, they kept their brand equity from using those tones.
  • Agency History: Although there are millions of designers and agencies around the globe today, advertising and marketing are fairly new industries. For a long time, only a handful of groups were working with all of the large brands. That led to a certain amount of similarity, especially among more conservative and established brands.
  • Color Psychology: Whether you believe in it or not, color psychology has had an outsized influence on how designers choose their tones. The way humans perceive color has been seen in several studies, such as a placebo effect with blue and red pills. These color guides are often taken into consideration when developing a logo.
  • The Market: Over time, people have started to associate certain colors with particular industries and brands. This is somewhat linked to the influence from each of the above factors. In market testing, brand research often reveals that people expect certain hues for certain types of brands.

Each of these factors have played a role in how these large companies initially chose and then, adapted their logos over time.

How to Choose a Good Logo Color

If you’re trying to choose a good color palette for your own logo, keep in mind the following considerations.

  • Decide if you are mainstream or an outlier. If you want to associate yourself with the big brands in your industry, choosing one of the common colors is a safe choice. It will visually align you with them. If you want to disrupt your industry, try using a tone that is less common.
  • Consider the long-term use of your logo. Ideally, your brand will last past visual trends. Think about how your color will look if aesthetics change. If possible, you want to augment your logo with time, keeping the core colors and making small updates.
  • Think practically about how you will use your logo. The more colors you add, the higher your cost for any physical materials will be (print, embroidery, etc.). Also, bright or primary hues work well on screens, at a long distance, and sized down.

You can choose the best logo color if you think about how your brand sits in the greater context of the market.

Additional Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about logos, design and colors, check out the following information.

Also, don’t forget to follow my blog, Facebook or Instagram to keep up with the conversation.


Methodology

To generate the numbers for my graphs, I started by pulling a list of the current Fortune Global 500 in November 2019. Then, I visually assessed each brand’s official logo. I used whichever version they identified as their main logo in their brand guide or press kit. So, some of them are technically wordmarks.

To select the primary color, I chose the most dominant color. If it was a close split, I chose the color in the wordmark part of the logo. If that was split, I represented the color as a split on the chart. For color choices, I stuck to the basic colors:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Grey

So, for example, if a logo was crimson, I labelled it red. If a logo was lavendar, I labelled it purple. These cases were rare as most of the tones were actually very straight primary colors for red and blue.

I also kept notes on the secondary colors.

Fortune 500 List (November 2019)

  1. Walmart
  2. Exxon Mobil
  3. Apple
  4. Berkshire Hathaway
  5. Amazon.com
  6. United Health Group
  7. McKesson
  8. CVS Health
  9. AT&T
  10. AmerisourceBergen
  11. Chevron
  12. Ford Motor
  13. General Motors
  14. Costco Wholesale
  15. Alphabet
  16. Cardinal Health
  17. Walgreens Boots Alliance
  18. JPMorgan Chase
  19. Verizon Communications
  20. Kroger
  21. General Electric
  22. Fannie Mae
  23. Phillips 66
  24. Valero Energy
  25. Bank of America
  26. Microsoft
  27. Home Depot
  28. Boeing
  29. Wells Fargo
  30. Citigroup
  31. Marathon Petroleum
  32. Comcast
  33. Anthem
  34. Dell Technologies
  35. DuPont de Nemours
  36. State Farm Insurance
  37. Johnson&Johnson
  38. IBM
  39. Target
  40. Freddie Mac
  41. United Parcel Service
  42. Lowe’s
  43. Intel
  44. MetLife
  45. Procter & Gamble
  46. United Technologies
  47. FedEx
  48. PepsiCo
  49. Archer Daniels Midland
  50. Prudential Financial
  51. Centene
  52. Albertsons
  53. Walt Disney
  54. Sysco
  55. HP
  56. Humana
  57. Facebook
  58. Caterpillar
  59. Energy Transfer
  60. Lockheed Martin
  61. Pfizer
  62. Goldman Sachs Group
  63. Morgan Stanley
  64. Cisco Systems
  65. Cigna
  66. AIG
  67. HCA Healthcare
  68. American Airlines Group
  69. Delta Air Lines
  70. Charter Communications
  71. New York Life Insurance
  72. American Express
  73. Nationwide
  74. Best Buy
  75. Liberty Mutual Insurance Group
  76. Merck
  77. Honeywell International
  78. United Continental Holdings
  79. TIAA
  80. Tyson Foods
  81. Oracle
  82. Allstate
  83. World Fuel Services
  84. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
  85. TJX
  86. ConocoPhillips
  87. Deere
  88. Tech Data
  89. Enterprise Products Partners
  90. Nike
  91. Publix Super Markets
  92. General Dynamics
  93. Exelon
  94. Plans GP Holdings
  95. 3M
  96. AbbVie
  97. CHS
  98. Capital One Financial
  99. Progressive
  100. Coca-Cola
  101. USAA
  102. Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  103. Abbot Laboratories
  104. Twenty-First Century Fox
  105. Micron Technology
  106. Travelers
  107. Rite Aid
  108. Northrop Grumman
  109. Arrow Electronics
  110. Philip Morris International
  111. Northwestern Mutual
  112. INTL FCStone
  113. PBF Energy
  114. Raytheon
  115. Kraft Heinz
  116. Mondelez International
  117. U.S. Bancorp
  118. Macy’s
  119. Dollar General
  120. Nucor
  121. Starbucks
  122. DXC Technology
  123. Eli Lilly
  124. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  125. US Foods Holding
  126. Duke Energy
  127. Halliburton
  128. Cummins
  129. Amgen
  130. Paccar
  131. Southern
  132. CenturyLink
  133. International Paper
  134. Union Pacific
  135. Dollar Tree
  136. Penske Automotive Group
  137. Qualcomm
  138. Bristol-Meyers Squibb
  139. Gilead Sciences
  140. Jabil
  141. ManpowerGroup
  142. Southwest Airlines
  143. Aflac
  144. Tesla
  145. AutoNation
  146. CBRE Group
  147. Lear
  148. Whirlpool
  149. McDonald’s
  150. Broadcom
  151. Marriot International
  152. Western Digital
  153. Visa
  154. Lennar
  155. WellCare Health Plans
  156. Kohl’s
  157. AECOM
  158. Synnex
  159. PNC Financial Services
  160. Danaher
  161. Hartford Financial Services
  162. Altria Group
  163. Bank of New York Mellon
  164. Fluor
  165. Avnet
  166. Icahn Enterprises
  167. Occidental Petroleum
  168. Molina Healthcare
  169. Genuine Parts
  170. Freeport-McMoran
  171. Kimberly Clark
  172. Tenet Healthcare
  173. Synchrony Financial
  174. CarMax
  175. HollyFrontier
  176. Performance Food Group
  177. Sherwin-Williams
  178. Emerson Electric
  179. NGL Energy Partners
  180. XPO Logistics
  181. EOG Resources
  182. Applied Materials
  183. PG&E
  184. NextEra Energy
  185. C.H. Robinson Worldwide
  186. Gap
  187. Lincoln National
  188. DaVita
  189. Jones Lang LaSalle
  190. WestRock
  191. CDW
  192. American Electric Power
  193. Cognizant Technology Solutions
  194. D.R. Horton
  195. Becton Dickinson
  196. Nordstrom
  197. Netflix
  198. Aramark
  199. Texas Instruments
  200. General Mills
  201. Supervalu
  202. Colgate-Palmolive
  203. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
  204. PayPal Holdings
  205. PPG Industries
  206. Omnicom Group
  207. Celgene
  208. Jacobs Engineering Group
  209. Ross Stores
  210. Marsh & McLennan
  211. Mastercard
  212. Land O’Lakes
  213. Waste Management
  214. Illinois Tool Works
  215. Ecolab
  216. Booking Holdings
  217. CBS
  218. Parker-Hannifin
  219. Principle Financial
  220. DTE Energy
  221. BlackRock
  222. United States Steel
  223. Community Health Systems
  224. Kinder Morgan
  225. Qurate Retail
  226. Loews
  227. Arconic
  228. Stanley Black & Decker
  229. Textron
  230. Las Vegas Sands
  231. Estee Lauder
  232. DISH Network
  233. Stryker
  234. Kellogg
  235. Biogen
  236. Alcoa
  237. Anadarko Petroleum
  238. Dominion Energy
  239. ADP
  240. salesforce.com
  241. L Brands
  242. Henry Schein
  243. Newell Brands
  244. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America
  245. BJ’s Wholesale Club
  246. BB&T Corp.
  247. State Street Corp.
  248. Viacom
  249. Ameriprise Financial
  250. Core-Mark Holding
  251. Reinsurance Group of America
  252. VF
  253. Discover Financial Services
  254. Global Partenrs
  255. Edison International
  256. Oneok
  257. Murphy USA
  258. Bed Bath & Beyond
  259. Consolidated Edison
  260. CSX
  261. J.C.Penney
  262. LKQ
  263. FirstEnergy
  264. Steel Dynamics
  265. Lithia Motors
  266. MGM Resorts International
  267. Tenneco
  268. Nvidia
  269. Sempra Energy
  270. Farmers Insurance Exchange
  271. Ball
  272. Group 1 Automotive
  273. Unum Group
  274. Xcel Energy
  275. Reliance Steel & Aluminum
  276. Huntsman
  277. Norfolk Southern
  278. Laboratory Corp. of America
  279. Corning
  280. Expedia Group
  281. Autozone
  282. W.W. Grainger
  283. Quanta Services
  284. Crown Holdings
  285. Office Depot
  286. Baxter International
  287. Lam Research
  288. Entergy
  289. Charles Schwab
  290. L3 Technologies
  291. NRG Energy
  292. Live Nation Entertainment
  293. Universal Health Services
  294. Molson Coors Brewing
  295. eBay
  296. AES
  297. Devon Energy
  298. Pacific Life
  299. CenterPoint Energy
  300. Discovery
  301. BorgWarner
  302. Targa Resources
  303. Ally Financial
  304. SunTrust Banks
  305. IQVIA Holdings
  306. American Family Insurance Group
  307. Delek US Holdings
  308. Navistar International
  309. Chesapeak Energy
  310. United Natural Foods
  311. Leidos Holdings
  312. PulteGroup
  313. Eastman Chemical
  314. Republic Services
  315. Mohawk Industries
  316. Sonic Automotive
  317. Owens & Minor
  318. Xerox
  319. Boston Scientific
  320. DCP Midstream
  321. Autoliv
  322. Interpublic Group
  323. Public Service Enterprise Group
  324. PVH
  325. Mosaic
  326. Advance Auto Parts
  327. Altice USA
  328. Hormel Foods
  329. O’Reilly Automotive
  330. Calpine
  331. Hertz Global Holdings
  332. First Data
  333. Pioneer Natual Resources
  334. Coty
  335. AGCO
  336. Mutual Omaha Insurance
  337. Vistra Energy
  338. Avis Budget Group
  339. Adobe
  340. Peter Kiewit Sons’
  341. News Corp.
  342. Brighthouse Financial
  343. Voya Financial
  344. Air Products & Chemicals
  345. Hilton Worldwide Holdings
  346. Gamestop
  347. Veritiv
  348. Williams
  349. Campbell Soup
  350. Rockwell Collins
  351. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
  352. Westlake Chemical
  353. Univar
  354. J.B.Hunt Transport Services
  355. Frontier Communications
  356. Jones Financial (Edward Jones)
  357. National Oilwell Varco
  358. Eversource Energy
  359. Dicks Sporting Goods
  360. Genworth Financial
  361. Fidelity National Information Services
  362. Yum China Holdings
  363. Ryder System
  364. Anixter International
  365. Caesars Entertainment
  366. Masco
  367. Thor Industries
  368. Alaska Air Group
  369. Amphenol
  370. WESCO International
  371. Huntington Ingalls Industries
  372. Jefferies Financial Group
  373. Dana
  374. Expeditors Intl. of Washington
  375. EMCOR Group
  376. Darden Restaurants
  377. SpartanNash
  378. Assurant
  379. United Rentals
  380. Liberty Media
  381. Erie Insurance Group
  382. Auto-Owners Insurance
  383. Cheniere Energy
  384. Fifth Third Bancorp
  385. Foot Locker
  386. Conagra Brands
  387. Zimmer Biomet Holdings
  388. Tractor Supply
  389. Berry Global Group
  390. Alliance Data Systems
  391. Hershey
  392. PPL
  393. Dean Foods
  394. Builders FirstSource
  395. Oshkosh
  396. EnLink Midstream
  397. W.R. Berkley
  398. WEC Energy Group
  399. Jetblue Airways
  400. UGI
  401. A-Mark Precious Metals
  402. Fidelity National Financial
  403. Constellation Brands
  404. Quest Diagnostics
  405. Activision Blizzard
  406. Weyerhaeuser
  407. Raymond James Financial
  408. Casey’s General Stores
  409. Keurig Dr Pepper
  410. American Tower
  411. Apache
  412. Dover
  413. KeyCorp
  414. J.M.Smucker
  415. Citizens Financial Group
  416. Motorola Solutions
  417. Magellan Health
  418. American Axle & Manufacturing
  419. Newmont Goldcorp
  420. Spirit AeroSystems Holdings
  421. Western & Southern Financial Group
  422. Fortive
  423. Graybar Electric
  424. NVR
  425. Avery Dennison
  426. Celanese
  427. American Financial Group
  428. Toll Brothers
  429. Sanmina
  430. Insight Enterprises
  431. Owens Corning
  432. Packaging Corp of America
  433. TravelCenters of America
  434. Olin
  435. Arthur J. Gallagher
  436. MasTec
  437. Alleghany
  438. Owens-Illinois
  439. Asbury Automotive Group
  440. CMS Energy
  441. Markel
  442. Blackstone Group
  443. AK Steel Holding
  444. Hanesbrands
  445. R.R. Donnelley & Sons
  446. Wayfair
  447. Regions Financial
  448. Wynn Resorts
  449. Ulta Beauty
  450. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
  451. Burlington Stores
  452. Rockwell Automation
  453. Northern Trust
  454. Chemours
  455. Seaboard
  456. Marathon Oil
  457. Ascena Retail Group
  458. Dillard’s
  459. Cintas
  460. Advanced Micro Devices
  461. Hess
  462. M&T Bank Corp.
  463. ABM Industries
  464. Beacon Roofing Supply
  465. NCR
  466. iHeartMedia
  467. Franklin Resources
  468. Ameren
  469. Intercontinental Exchange
  470. S&P Global
  471. Post Holdings
  472. Analog Devices
  473. Ralph Lauren
  474. L3Harris Technolgies
  475. Booz Allen Hamilton
  476. Polaris Industries
  477. Clorox
  478. Realogy Holdings
  479. HD Supply Holdings
  480. Graphic Packaging Holding
  481. Old Republic International
  482. Intuit
  483. NetApp
  484. Tapestry
  485. ON Semiconductor
  486. Ingredion
  487. Zoetis
  488. Fiserv
  489. TreeHouse Foods
  490. Robert Half International
  491. First American Financial
  492. Harley Davidson
  493. Windstream Holdigns
  494. Yum Brands
  495. Williams-Sonoma
  496. Simon Property Group
  497. Navient
  498. Western Union
  499. Peabody Energy
  500. Levi Strauss