Logo Tips

Choosing the Right Colors in Logo Design

Color Follow Up CoverAre you ready for some more Color Theory! In this post we follow up on our Make Your Colors Count article with some helpful terms, an analysis on a few extra colors, and tips on how to choose the right colors for your logo!

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Studying how color affects the viewer is a deep and interesting topic. Despite nuances in upbringing, location, and cultural background, people all across the world respond to color in a universal way. That is why it is important when selecting colors for your business to have a basic understanding of color theory. Choosing the colors of your logo design will speak volumes to your audience, for good if chosen wisely.

Just as a reminder of where we started, let’s take a look at this color chart showing us the three Primary Colors (Red, Yellow, Blue) and three Secondary Colors (Orange, Green, Purple):cheap oakley oil rig sunglasses

 Color Chart v2


 You can discuss color more accurately with these four terms: Hue, Tint, Shade, and Tone. They each are used to describe a specific color. These terms express what has been mixed with a color.

The untouched, purest form of a color. There is nothing mixed in, specifically any black, white, or grey. Hues of the Primary (Red, Blue, Yellow) and Seconday (Orange, Green, Purple) colors can be seen at the top of the Color Chart.

When you add white to a color, whether a little or a lot, it becomes a Tint of that Hue. Diluted and pastel colors are created this way. Tinting a Hue gives it a lightened or faded effect. Tints of the Primary and Secondary colors can be seen in the second row of the Color air max Canada

By adding black to a Hue, you darken it to a Shade. As with Tints, adding a little or a lot of black constitutes a Shade. In doing so, the Hue becomes dimmer, it’s vibrancy scaled back. The Primary and Secondary colors are Shaded in the third row of the Color Chart.

Mixing gray with a Hue creates a Tone. By adding some black and some white (to get the gray), you achieve a look that is more pleasing to the eye. It increases the variation of colors available and is generally seen as subtle and sophisticated. Tones of the Primary and Secondary Hues can be seen in the bottom row of the color chart.

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Since we’ve been discussing mixing black, white, and gray with our colors, let’s discuss what happens when people see these colors. As demonstrated with light, white contains the colors of the rainbow. Yet when you mix all colors together with paint you get a dull, dark grey color. In space, areas giving out no light are seen as absolute black.

I’ve included some recent winning designs from the portfolio to demonstrate the colors in action.

White is worn by a bride on her wedding day, symbolizing purity. Doctors and scientists wear white robes to demonstrate sterility and hope. A white dove is used in the international symbol of peace. In the “American Dream,” a home with a well manicured lawn is protected by a white picket fence. White is universally associated with peace and purity. It is also tied to heat, as in the light we receive from the sun. A well lit room is perceived by us to be hotter than a dimly lit room, even if they are the same temperature.

WHITE_Life Goes On

When we see white we think of: Peace, Cleanliness, Innocence, Simplicity, Purity, Truthfulness, and Surrender.Clearance air jordan

Black is seen as a color of power and authority, which is why judges and priests use it for their robes. Because so many movie and TV antagonists have used black for its ties to power, black can also seem a little villainous.  A tuxedo is seen as classic because of its use of black. It is a mysterious color because it reminds us that we can’t see what’s in the darkness. Black also reminds us of finality, linking it with death. Though when used correctly, it can become a symbol of sophistication and strength.

BLACK_High Cotton

When we see black we think of: Authority, Power, Mystery, Elegance, Finality, Seriousness, Formal, Bold, and Classic.

Gray is a neutral color that pairs well with many hues, supporting them and making them pop. By itself it is a reminder of intellect, knowledge, and wisdon. They say the brain is “gray matter.” Gray hairs are a sign of age and wisdom. Many of the once white Greek and Roman columns and statues have since faded to gray, affecting our perception of once great civilizations. Storm clouds are gray and can be moody.

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When we see gray we think of: Authority, Corporate, Moodiness, Somberness, Practicality, Classic, and Neutrality.Sweden ray ban sunglasses

Brown is like the warm version of gray – a great complimenting color with warm undertones. Brown reminds us of trees, dirt, and nature. It’s a bit rugged and manly, like many beards. Because of the neutral / warm nature of brown, it tends to be seen as comforting. Imagine snuggling up to warm, hot chocolate. When paired with warm shades it develops a rich feeling. The connection with wood causes us to see brown as strong and sturdy.

BROWN_Law Office Of John Piazza

When we see brown we think of: Earth, Nature, Trees, Ruggedness, Richness, Comfort, and Warmth.

These are the generalizations we pair to white, black, gray, and brown. The context in which these colors are used will determine which one of the emotions mentioned are triggered. Think of a logo with a black skull – it says death, somberness, and rebellion. Now think of a logo with a black swan – styled correctly it can be viewed as elegant, unique, sophisticated. It’s important to consider how your colors will be affected by what they are paired with.

Skull Swan

Think of the primary emotions you want associated with your logo, keep it to the top three. Now decide between this list and the Make Your Colors Count article’s list which colors tie best with those emotions. Do they create an interesting color combination? Are they Analogous, Complimentary, or Triadic? Think about these questions when starting a new project.

When you use color combinations cleverly like this, relating them to human psychology, it will enhance your logo beyond just an image and name. The correct color combination will trigger emotions in your audience that will help them create a greater connection with your brand. A greater connection with your audience will create customer loyalty, brand excitement, and a company philosophy that they can stand behind.

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What colors do you like to see in a logo?
Are there any colors that don’t work for logo design?
Lets talk about it in the Comments!


Keep up with what’s going on at in the Official Blog!

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  • Find out if you should use a Copyright or Trademark for your logo.