Can famous logos still work in a totally different colour?

We see iconic logos every day, and the most famous examples are etched onto our memory. From the yellow McDonald's arches to the red Netflix wordmark, many brands are synonymous with a particular colour. But if that colour were to change, would our perception of the brand change with it?

A new study has revealed just how important colour is to some of the UK’s leading brand logos, and the results are surprising. Indeed, it seems even a simple change of hue could be enough to yank a design from our best logos roundup.

Famous logos in the standard and inverted colours

(Image credit: Ikea/Cadbury/Netflix/Icon Printing/Future owns)

Icon Printing teamed up with Karen Haller, the leading international authority in the field of Applied Colour Psychology, to switch nine iconic UK logos to the opposite colours on the colour wheel. (Not sure what we're talking about? Take a look at our guide to colour theory.)

Netflix logo in red vs Netflix logo in green

(Image credit: Netflix/Icon Printing)

Change Netflix from red to green, and we move from "serial excitement to natural zen". "There’s a reason why red is used in cinemas and theatres. When we sit on red seats, it encourages us to get excited, full of anticipation for the show to begin. This is because, in colour psychology terms, red stimulates the physical," Haller says. "If Netflix changed its brand colour to green, we would straight away lose that sense of anticipation, that excitement."

Samsung logo

(Image credit: Samsung/Icon Printing)

Meanwhile, if Samsung's logo was to change from dark blue to gold, we'd lose a sense of "trustworthy communications", which would be replaced by "premium exclusivity" – in other words, a brand that isn't for everyone.

Ikea logo in yellow/blue vs Ikea logo in orange/purple

(Image credit: Ikea/Icon Printing)

Perhaps the most interesting change is Ikea. While it's already a bold and striking logo, flipping the colours to orange and purple nudge it over into childishness. Fine for the brand's range of children's products perhaps – but it doesn't scream 'solid and reliable bookcase' to us. 

The full study includes many more brands such as Boots, Royal Mail and, er, Cathedral City Cheese. It's a fascinating look at how a simple nudge of the 'hue' slider on Photoshop can completely change the aura of a brand. Speaking of which, want to have a go at changing some logos of your own? Then check out our guide on how to download Photoshop.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.