Whether you are beginner graphic designer or an entrepreneur starting up your own business you have faced the inevitable point of creating a logo design. Logos are an important part of branding any business or product and designing a good distinguishable one is no easy task. During the design process, it is easy to get excited and ruin an otherwise great design with the wrong colors. This is an issue that I have faced at the beginning of my stint as a graphic designer and here I have tried to summarize some of the knowledge that I have gathered along the way.
There are many things to consider when choosing the number of colors in a logo design such as specific industry or product requirements. The industry rule is to minimize the number of colors to fewer than three. Choosing only one or two colors is the easiest way to create a memorable logo that does not overwhelm the viewer.
While it is easy to set a rule about the number of colors that should go in a logo design, there is much more to be said about color choices in order to achieve the visual appearance that will best represent the brand’s identity. For example, one must consider the meaning of colors to visually convey the values of a company; whether a warm or cold color scheme is more appropriate; or simply which colors go well together. Making the correct choices can help entrepreneurs to create suitable requirements for their brand identity which would help designers to deliver an impactful product.
Why a logo with fewer colors is better?
Marketing experts have recognized that customers often judge the quality of a product based on the logo design style and especially its color palette. Colors can influence mood and behavior by evoking particular feelings which makes color choices an essential step of creating an impactful brand.
There are a few reasons why the vast majority (95%) of the top big brands uses logos that contain only one or two colors.These reasons can be divided into two broad categories – psychological and practical. A good color choice should take into consideration the constraints imposed by both categories.
First, we will explore the psychological reasons. Logos are ubiquitous and memorizing them all is unlikely. This means that a logo needs to be simple in order to be easily memorized. Introducing multiple colors in a logo design increases the complexity of the information that needs to be processed making it harder to remember. This is important because customers often choose which products to buy based on whether they recognize and remember the logo design on the product.
A related point is the effect that different colors have on the human psyche which will be discussed in more detail down below. Using many colors can evoke mixed feelings that can confuse the customer and prevent your logo to communicate its message clearly.
On the practical side of things, there are two main concerns when keeping the color scheme of a logo design simple. One of the main goals is achieving uniformity when viewing and not all screens handle colors in the same way. This means that it is important to choose colors with little tone variation.
Additionally, your logo is likely to be printed on different physical mediums such as paper, textile, etc. The different surfaces and textures of these materials can impact colors. A logo design that looks great on a screen can be almost unrecognizable on paper. So with all these constraints how should you choose the right color palette for your logo design?
Five expert tips to choose the right colors for logos
1. Brand definition
This may sound pretty obvious but define and know your brand well. While you may implicitly know what your brand is all about, this is not at all clear to your potential customers. That is one of the main purposes of a logo design – communicate the values and strengths of your brand or product clearly and concisely. Not only is it the presentation of your brand to the world, but it also has to stand out in an increasingly competitive and oversaturated market.
Spend the time to list the primary values of your brand and the emotions that you want to evoke in your customers. This will help you to narrow down the colors which can elicit the desired reactions in your potential customers later on.
2. Industry research
Take the time to research the branding choices of the market that you are entering with a focus on the top brands. They have the resources to research public perceptions and have catered their design choices accordingly. As a smaller business analyzing existing brands can inform you what works.
This approach can also spark innovative ideas and help you stand out from the competition. Industries typically use similar color schemes and even a small variation in the color can separate you from the pack.
3. The meaning of colors
After knowing your brand and the choices made by the competition you can choose your colors accordingly. As previously mentioned colors can elicit different psychological and physiological effects. To help you with your choices, here is a small list of the main colors and their meaning.
- Red can evoke strong emotions associated with passion and intensity such as love or hate. It can also imply urgency and can stimulate appetite.
- Orange warns of danger and is reflective of high-energy states as excitement and enthusiasm. It is usually connected with a call to action and can represent aggression.
- Yellow is connected with cheerfulness, fun, and warmth stemming from its relationship with the Sun. It represents optimism and can stimulate the nervous system.
- Green often reflects nature, has a generally calming effect, and is connected with health and tranquility. It symbolizes growth and is connected with money.
- Blue evokes a sense of serenity, security, and trust. It is used by companies to convey dependability, reliability, and professionalism.
- Pink combines the intensity of red and purity related with white. It is often associated with love, tenderness, and femininity. It is often used to create a playful mood and encourage creativity.
- Purple has been historically connected with royalty, wealth, and wisdom.
4. Color schemes
If you want to combine multiple colors you can use color palettes and color schemes. A quick search through the internet will yield a tremendous amount of palettes to choose from. These are often generated by experienced designers and the colors are guaranteed to work well together. Knowing the message you want to communicate and the emotions you want to evoke can help you pick the best fitting one. Alternatively, there are tools developed for generating your personal color palettes with no requirements for expert knowledge such as color theory.
There are a few color schemes that are most often used in logo design.
- Warm Colors – as the name suggests these are colors with a red value. They easily grab the attention and have a warm effect on the viewer.
- Cold Colors – these colors are high in blue value. While they feel colder, they are suitable for more serious and formal business organizations.
- Monochromatic – this scheme uses different shades of the same color. The use of subtle changes can be tricky but can be quite impactful
5. Test your logo
As previously mentioned colors work differently on different mediums. A common mistake is to finalize color choices after viewing the logo on a single screen. Take the time to check how it looks on different screens as well as on paper. This can prevent what could otherwise end up being a costly mistake.
In addition, you can take the time to show the logo to your family and friends and see their reactions. This is a good way to test whether your color choices elicit the intended reactions and refine the design before making final decisions.
Creating a logo design is a fundamental aspect of establishing the identity of your brand and the color choices can be the difference that makes or breaks a design. Choosing the right colors can be a difficult task without the appropriate knowledge. While there is much more that goes into creating a well-designed logo, making use of your newly gained understanding of colors and their meaning can help you avoid some common pitfalls and improve your brand message.