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A sweet new logo: How one small business owner rebranded with yellow and brown

John Habib
John Habib on February 3, 2017 - 11:20 am in Branding, Logo Design

In our recent series about color pairings in logos, we highlighted the surprising effectiveness of yellow and brown combinations. Colors evoke certain feelings and associations, and yellow and brown are no different. And as it turned out, yellow and brown were the perfect combination for a small business looking to expand its growth potential.

Picture the sun, or the original emoji, the smiley face. What color are they? Warm and bright, yellow unsurprisingly represents positivity, optimism and hope. But this dynamic color also signifies logic, confidence and creativity. In darker, more golden shades, the color is said to embody luxury, abundance and prosperity. Perhaps this is why a wide range of companies from various industries – McDonald’s, Sprint and National Geographic – have incorporated this brilliant hue into their logos.

Modest and neutral, as it may be, the color brown reflects structure, dependability and support. This mellow tone is the perfect fit for a financial institution like J.P. Morgan that strives to be seen as reliable and secure. And what could be more warm, soothing and wholesome than chocolate? Hershey’s and M&M’s use brown to evoke the delicious confections the companies produce. And because of its appearance in nature, brown tones convey an earthiness that works well for brands associated with the outdoors.

Many famous brands pair yellow and brown to convey specific messages and evoke certain feelings:

UPS

What the colors say about the brand: This is a company customers can trust.

United Parcel Service, established in 1907, has one of the world’s most recognizable logos: the brown and yellow shield. In fact, their logo colors are so entwined with the brand’s image that they were invoked in UPS’s former slogan: “What can brown do for you?” The deep brown in the logo represents security — your packages are safe with the company — and the bold yellow inspires confidence. If that wasn’t enough, the iconography of a shield represents honor and protection. Who better to trust with your deliveries?

Cracker Barrel

What the colors say about the brand: This company is wholesome and customer-friendly.

Whether or not you’ve visited a Cracker Barrel, you likely know the restaurant and gift shop chain as a “ye olde country store” brand. As part of this brand, they strive to provide a “warm welcome” and “good meals at fair prices.” Cracker Barrel’s logo nods to a bygone era and promises an enjoyable experience of simplicity and home-style comfort. The brown emphasizes traditionalism, while the yellow provides a pop of warmth and joy.

Gevalia

What the colors say about the brand: This company values tradition but is forward-thinking.

Scandinavian coffee roaster Gevalia’s brand revolves around its rich heritage. The company has spent 150 years mastering the perfect cup of “kaffe,” and continues to do so today. With a nod to their product, the coffee bean brown of the logo is also a reflection of the brand’s history and staying power. The cheerful golden-yellow background highlights the dark wordmark and also adds a burst of brightness. Coffee is usually enjoyed first thing in the morning, after all.

How one small business owner rebranded with yellow and brown

In 2013, Wesley Bright purchased an empty lot in his Akron, Ohio neighborhood, with the vision of transforming the space into an urban apiary. Committed to the goal of bringing more business to Akron, and to educating people about the benefits of bees and their honey, Wesley bought two hives and launched the Akron Honey Company. Three years later, his honey was consistently selling out in local stores.

But Wesley knew he still needed marketing help. His dreams for growing the business included opening a customer-facing cosmetics production facility experience, and expanding his product offering into skincare and haircare products. From a branding standpoint, his logo’s bold simplicity worked with his raw, local honey products, but did not lend itself to the more feminine market of skincare and haircare. Wesley looked to Deluxe to help him transform his visual identity.

The Deluxe team created a plan to support multiple product lines and to position Akron Honey for growth beyond Akron. The primary challenge would be to create a more feminine version of the company’s logo, while maintaining the visual familiarity of the original look and feel. The new logo also had to work well across the raw honey products, the new skincare product labels and any future expansion opportunities.

The first step in the project was to pin down exactly what was making Akron Honey’s brand feel masculine. The logo design team isolated it to three factors: thick black lines; a hard, square shape; and a heavy font.

The team also decided that establishing a stronger visual connection to honey would be critical when expanding the product line beyond raw honey. Not only was it important that the new logo feel more feminine, but it needed to communicate the main feature — honey — at a quick glance. So the team got to work exploring new shapes, icons, fonts and colors, keeping in mind the need to stay true to the visual familiarity of the original logo.

Round 1

 

Akron Honey Logo ConceptsThe first round of concepts kept the logo as simple and clean as possible, while introducing a honey-related visual cue and lighter weights for the font and lines.

Wesley was initially excited about Concept 2, but then had doubts. “People really like my logo, and there is this sense of alchemy that is conveyed by the square box and the thick lines. I don’t want to lose that,” he said. The other factor? For most small business owners, their business — and its logo — is an extension of themselves, and rightly so. To do something different feels like a big risk.

Round 2

 

Akron Honey IllustrationsIn response to Wesley’s concerns, the team explored other ways to incorporate a feminine touch without changing the original logo. With this option, Wesley could continue using his current logo on raw honey, but add the clover illustration across his skincare labels.

After seeing this option, Wesley decided to embrace change. He had a vision for his company’s expanded future and he knew it meant making some bold moves.

Round 3

In the end, Wesley chose the concept he originally loved: Round 1, Concept 2. But now he wanted to explore bringing honey-toned colors into the logo. The logo team created several options to find the best color and line combination.

At last, the team got it just right with option B below:

Now the sweet spot of Akron is even sweeter

With a new yellow and brown logo that works well with both raw honey and the new skincare line, Wesley’s brand is stronger than ever. He is primed to grow his business in Akron and beyond, while staying true to his mission of not just selling a product, but making people and places better.

To learn more about Wesley and the Akron Honey Company, read the full case study. Interested in other color pairings? Consider orange and black or red and green.

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