6 Fundamental Dos & Don’ts of Color in Logo Design

July 20, 2016

Did you know that 85% of people say that colors as the primary reason that they buy a particular product*? Or, that 80% of people think that color increases brand recognition*? Colors convey subtle meaning to customers and they are one of the most important elements in logo design.

When you are choosing a new logo for your company, one of the first things that you should do is to become familiar with the color wheel. The color wheel is a graphic designers best friend and it is a vital tool when it comes to the successful combination of colors in logo design. In brief, the color wheel is made up of 12 colors: 3 primary colors, 3 secondary colors and 6 tertiary colors. The three primary colors are red, blue and yellow. The three secondary colors are what happens when you combine the primary colors and they are orange, purple and green (ie. red & yellow = orange, red & blue = purple, blue & yellow = green). There are six tertiary colors are the result of combining each of the secondary colors with its neighboring primary color.

Once you have become acquainted with the color wheel, it is now time to choose a logo design. Don’t underestimate the importance of color and read this article now. These 6 fundamental do’s and don’ts of color in logo design are crucial to creating an effective logo design for your business.

DO your first designs in black and white

After everything that I have said about color, it is actually most important that you do away with color in the beginning stages of logo design. Your first logo designs should be in black and white because your logo needs to stand out both with and without color. Trust me. There will inevitably come a time in the history of your brand where you will need to only use a black and white logo. By understanding this and designing with this in mind, you will be saving yourself a lot of headache later on.

DON’T use more than 2-3 colors

Very few logos work well with more than 2-3 colors. Of course, there are some multi-colored logos our there like the eBay logo, NBC’s logo and Google’s logo however these types of logos are few and far between. Stick to a minimum amount of colors in your logo design to have the greatest impact.

DO read up on color psychology

Understanding the power of color psychology is essential in logo design. Color has a deep connection to people’s emotions and by understanding this connection, you can create a very effective logo design. Do your research and look at what other companies are doing. Understand why your competition is using red, orange, yellow or blue in their logo design. Remember that the colors that you choose to use in your logo design have a big influence on the overall impact of your logo as well as its ease of recognition by your customers.

DO stick to classic color schemes in logo design

Traditional color schemes have been used over and over for centuries and there is a reason for this: they work! The following five classic color schemes work really well in logo design.

A monochromatic color scheme use variations of lightness and saturation of a single color. If you are looking for a simple color scheme for your logo, this can be a good choice. Logos that use a monochromatic color scheme are clean, balanced and visually appealing.

If you are looking to create a logo with a little more contrast, an analogous color scheme is a better choice. An analogous color scheme uses colors that are beside each other on the color wheel. It can be used effectively to create a rich and intriguing logo design. 

The bp logo is an example of an analogous color scheme in a logo design:

BP logo - an example of an analogous color scheme in logo design

A complementary color scheme is another simple yet very effective color scheme in logo design. A complementary color scheme uses two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. A logo that uses this type of color scheme is vibrant, high contrast and attention grabbing.

The VISA logo is an example of a complementary color scheme in a logo design:

VISA logo- example of a complementary color scheme in logo design

You can also use split complimentary color schemes and triadic color schemes in logo design. A split complimentary color scheme uses one color and the two colors that are adjacent to its complementary. A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel. Both of these color schemes are often used in logo design to create a balanced and harmonious logo design. 

The Firefox logo is an example of a split complementary color scheme in a logo design:

Firefox logo-an example of a complementary color scheme in a logo design

DO understand the interplay of colors and backgrounds in your logo design

Our eyes are constantly playing tricks on us and having an understanding of these tricks will help you to create a better logo design. For example, light colors pop out more if they are set against a dark background. By simply outlining a color with a darker shade, you can make it pop out more. The subtle interplay of colors and backgrounds can have a dramatic effect on your overall logo design.

DON'T forget about readability

What’s the point in having a great logo where no one can read the brand name? Have fun with color in logo design but don’t get too carried away. Make sure that the colors in your logo design aren’t too distracting and if you need to, you can always increase type size for increased legibility.

* The statistics found in the introduction of this article were taken from an infographic found on the fastcompany.com website. Click here to see the whole infographic.



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