The colors of a growth industry

The agriculture industry helps us take care of our basic needs, making sure we’re fed and clothed. Farmers are thought of as being hard-working, family-oriented folks who are in touch with the land. They’re also sometimes portrayed as old fashioned and slow to change.
How do those in the agricultural industry choose the color for their brand that communicates those traditional values but also makes them seem relevant in the modern world? We’ve analyzed the color palettes of over 200 agriculture logos, evaluated the brand personality traits that business owners want, and consulted color psychology experts in order to help you decide. 

It’s easy being green: digging into agricultural colors

  • Agriculture industry popular logo color choices
Dwight Schrute at Schrute Farms
Farmers turn to the land for their inspiration; green dominates both industry leading agriculture logos (61%) and 99designs contests (64%). Popular pairing colors include black, white and blue. We do see a difference between 99designs contests, however, and industry leaders, in that the latter are overall much more colorful. Only green, black and blue appear in more than 20% of color requests on 99designs. Industry leaders also like to churn a little yellow, red and brown into the mix.
What’s not being planted? Purple and pink. The reason for this may be that both of these colors have a distinct cultural association with femininity, however both are colors that appear quite frequently in the natural world.
One interesting trend that emerged when we analyzed our data was that 80% of agricultural entrepreneurs didn’t request a single color when filling out their 99designs brief. In other industries, this number was approximately 20-40%. While there’s no way to be sure of the reason that farmers don’t seem to have a preference when it comes to their logo color, it is clear that they are leaving the selections up to their designers.

So what can agriculturalists learn to help them decide what works? The logos from four of the top agriculture companies are emblematic of the industry as a whole:
  • Cargill logo
  • Monsanto logo
  • Dole logo
  • Chiquita logo
The two largest brands, Cargil and Monsanto, stick to the most popular colors: green and black. These two companies focus on business-to-business transactions, providing seed, feed, and other agricultural products. It make sense that their color choices would be more austere, focusing on the cultural associations of nature with green, and the formality of black.
Dole and Chiquita, on the other hand, set the trend of having multiple bright colors in their logos. These two brands focus on selling their products directly to consumers. They also are both most well known for fruit-related products, and fruits come in almost all the colors of the rainbow. Their bright logos reflect that diversity and bring about the sweet association of fresh berries and bananas.
The colors you select for your logo have a huge effect on how consumers view your brand—Miss Chiquita would probably be much less alluring dressed in brown. How might an independent family ranch or independent organic farm emulate the success of trendsetting industry leaders, but also grow their own identities?
Once you know what you want your brand personality to be, it’s easy to translate those traits into colors.

Ploughing the field: colors of brand personality in agriculture

When you complete a 99designs design brief, you are asked to rate your business on twelve personality traits.
  • 99designs' brand personality traits
Our data shows that people in agriculture have the following preferences:
  • Agriculture industry preferred brand personality traits
From this we infer that agriculture businesses want to be seen as classical and economical. These traits align with the following colors:
  • Agriculture industry brand personality-color combinations
There are a few contradictions in these color associations: orange and yellow are both perceived as economical, but not classical. As such, they can be used effectively in agricultural logos, but a business is going to have to select which of these traits is more important to them.
Green, the most popular color in both data sets, doesn’t appear anywhere on this list. This can be chalked up to cultural associations: while it may not have an inherent link to being either economical or classic, there is a strong link between green and the natural world, growth and freshness. These are all traits farmers might want to emphasize in their brand personality, hence explaining the popularity of green.
White and blue are both quite popular, and have strong associations with being economical and classical, respectively. On the other hand, black—which appears in 26% of 99designs contest requests and 48% of industry leading agricultural logos—is not seen as economical. Perhaps people are choosing it because it is a neutral, but small businesses may wish to consider gray as an alternative. The slightly lighter hue is a bit more welcoming than its darker, more mysterious cousin, and has high associations with classical logos.

Culling the crops: what colors should agricultural entrepreneurs explore?

Green is a perennial favorite in agriculture because of its cultural associations, and is a smart but safe choice for logo design.
But what if you branch out a bit and set yourself apart? If you’re ready to try and grow something new, there are multiple color options that will allow you to blossom while still maintaining an economical, classical brand personality.
  • Psychology of color meanings
Gray conveys classical composure but is oftentimes overlooked for white or black. Pink and orange are both economical choices, yet each appear in less than 16% of logos. Similarly yellow, which is quite popular among industry leaders, is rarely selected by the small agricultural businesses that use 99designs. If you want to be seen as happy, and plant the cultural association of sunshine, consider yellow. If your brand is fun and lively, perhaps consider orange? Or if you want to to be warm and friendly it might be time to try pink.
How might these entrepreneurs learn from industry leaders when beginning to think about designing their own logos?
  • Ocean Spray logo
  • Chiquita logo
  • Burpee logo
Those in the agricultural industry have a lot of color options to plough through. Even if you want to stick with the traditional classic and economical palate, there are a lot of options: green, blue, white, yellow and red. There are also the cultural associations with the specific product you grow: can you play on the purple of your vineyard grapes, or the browns of the cattle you raise?
Are you still team green? Or have you grown to embrace a yellow and white logo? Either way, as you seek to select brand colors for your logo design, you can be sure your new knowledge will produce a bumper crop!

Blue collar, white collar, purple collar: what are the colors of other industries?

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