How many colors should a logo have? Essential tips for better logo design
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How many colors should a logo have? Essential tips for better logo design

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

How many colors should a logo have, and how do you know if you’re choosing the right shades for your brand identity? While there are many factors that define the success of a logo, color has more of an impact on how your business is perceived than you might think.

Different shades in your brand mark don’t just differentiate you from other organizations in your field. They’re also essential for forming emotional connections with your target audience. 

Famous brands thrive because they know how to use warm colors, cold colors, and complementary shades to send a message. The right color palette tells customers everything they need to know about your company, and its values at a glance. 

A strong selection of colors can convince a customer to trust or value your brand, long before they ever interact with your team. So, how do you choose the right colors for the perfect logo?

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

How many colors should a logo have?

Colors are powerful. The psychology of color tells us that human beings naturally form unconscious connections to certain shades. We attribute meaning to passionate shades of red, cooling tones of blue, and nature-inspired green palettes. 

Knowing this, its easy to assume that utilizing multiple colors in your logo will help you to engage a wider audience. However, the reality is that too many colors could overwhelm your customers, and dilute your brand identity, sending opposing signals. 

That’s one of the many reasons why most of the world’s most successful companies only use a few colors in their logo. In fact, it’s a rule of thumb among designers that a logo should generally never include more than 3 colors. 95% of brands only use 2 distinct shades in their logo. 

Figuring out how to design a fantastic logo doesn’t just mean choosing the right number of specific colors, but also knowing how to balance your selection of shades. 

Generally, 60% of a company’s color palette is one specific shade, while 30% includes a complementary color, and 10% is an accent. 

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. There are instances wherein multi-colored logos using a variety of different shades can still make a resounding impact. Just look at Google or Microsoft for instance. But even creative brands with a broad color palette are often cautious. 

Knowing how to balance your use of colors carefully is the difference between creating a powerful, engaging emblem, or a messy, overwhelming image. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Why do logos use so few colors?

While there are brands that break the accepted rules assigned to logo colors, most stick with relatively simple color palettes. There are various reasons for this. Since all colors have their own psychological effects, combining too many different shades can lead to a complex or confusing message. 

While a simple blue and white color palette, like the one used by the Facebook logo immediately conveys trust and excellence, a multi-colored logo can send too many messages. 

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while every color has positive connotations, each shade can have negative attributes too. For instance, we see red as passionate, but also dangerous or aggressive. 

Choosing a simple and streamlined color palette made up of complementary shades helps to refine your logo design, and give depth to your brand essence

A simpler color palette can also make your logo more versatile. The fewer colors your emblem “clashes” with, the more space you have to experiment with different platforms, mediums, and backgrounds for your brand design. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Logo color meanings: Color meanings in logos

As mentioned above, creating an amazing logo isn’t just about asking “how many colors should a logo have?” It’s also crucial to understand which colors are going to resonate with your audience. 

Since the connections people have with a logo can vary depending on a number of factors, it’s difficult to choose a color palette that’s going to be universally adored. What really matters is selecting a logo that reflects your brand identity, and connects with your audience. 

To do this, you need a basic understanding of color psychology, or how colors influence people emotionally. 

Let’s break down the basics of common color meanings in logos. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Red in logo design

Universally considered to be the color of passion and romance, red is visceral, eye-catching, and powerful. It can represent passion, love, energy, and power. It’s also frequently used in the food and beverage industry, as red is stimulating and appetite-inducing. 

On the other hand, red can also suggest aggression, conflict, and anger. It’s a color frequently tied to danger, which makes it a bad choice for those who want a peaceful, serene image. Red can create a sense of urgency, but it can also be overly aggressive as a primary brand color. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Orange in logo design

Cheerful and enthusiastic, orange is one of the brightest, warmest, and most welcoming colors on the spectrum. It’s often used for high visibility, but can easily become overwhelming and headache-inducing when used in large quantities. 

The color orange is lighthearted and fun, making it a great choice for companies who want to portray a youthful and energetic identity. However, it’s easy for this color to become overwhelming when it isn’t paired with a neutral shade, like white. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Yellow in logo design

Popular in the food industry, yellow is a color that often evolves feelings of optimism and happiness. It reminds us of sunshine, and sometimes even wealth or money. Yellow shades are very noticeable and difficult to miss, making them great for standing out in a crowded market. 

Yellow is frequently used by companies that want to express delight and youthfulness. Some shades, like gold, are even associated with excellence and affluence. However, yellow is also associated with warning signs and caution. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Green in logo design

Green is one of the easiest colors for the human eye to perceive. It’s also the shade our eyes are most sensitive to, meaning we can perceive a lot of different tones. Many eco-friendly brands use green colors in logos to showcase a connection with the planet and nature. 

In some cases, green can also be used to convey wealth, as it’s connected to money in certain parts of the world. However, certain shades of green can also remind us of illness and nausea. Bright greens can also be off-putting in certain color combinations.

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Blue in logo design

Blue is the world’s favorite color, and the most popular shade in logo design among many companies. It’s a color that conveys control, logic, calm, honesty, and professionalism. It’s a soothing shade that helps companies to build trusted connections with their customers. 

Blue is frequently used in technology, medical, and financial logos. It’s serene and tranquil, making it a great choice among brands that want to convey peace. However, it can also look cold and unfriendly in certain landscapes. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Purple in logo design

Traditionally associated with royalty and luxury, purple triggers associations with extravagance and independence. It can also be linked to concepts like wisdom, spirituality, and even mystery. It’s used in a myriad of industries, from cosmetics to fashion landscape. 

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t like purple as a color. Some see the shade as obnoxious, or boastful. Purple can also drive customers away from a company, by indicating that their products might be designed for more affluent consumers.

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Pink in logo design

Pink is the shade most frequently associated with femininity, which is one of the reasons why it’s so frequently used for cosmetics and beauty brands. It can be seen as playful and energetic, or reassuring and compassionate. It’s often associated with childhood and spring. 

In recent years, pink has become increasingly common in the marketing landscape, as it gains more power and diversity. However, the color can still isolate certain demographics and consumers. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

White and black in logo design

White and black are some of the most sophisticated colors used in logo design. In fact, many companies produce black and white variations of their logos for different mediums. These colors are minimalistic and elegant. Black can convey elegance and prestige. 

White, on the other hand, is often associated with purity and sophistication. These colors are excellent both as core logo colors, and accents. However, they can also be seen as boring, and may make it harder for some companies to stand out.

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Grey in logo design

Grey or silver can be excellent shades for a brand identity. These colors are associated with stability, modesty, and dignity. They can make a startup look serious and credible. Plus, they’re great for versatility, as grey works well with a host of other shades. 

Grey is a very neutral color, and is less aggressive than many other shades. However, it’s also a relatively dull shade, which can be considered boring or lifeless. Sometimes, grey is also associated with sadness and depression. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Brown in logo design

The color of wood and earth, brown embodies practicality and stability. It’s comforting and supportive, and reminds us of maturity and safety. Though it’s often seen as a masculine color, brown can be a wonderfully versatile and wholesome color. 

It’s frequently associated with the agricultural and transport industries. Plus, it can be connected to delicious foods and beverages, like chocolate and coffee. However, brown can seem rigid and dull, making it less appealing to innovative brands. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Logo color combinations: Complementary logo colors

While some companies choose to use a single color in their logo design, many will opt for a handful of different, yet complementary colors. If your answer to “how many colors should a logo have”, is more than one, you’ll need to ensure your colors work well together. 

After you’ve considered the psychological impact of each color, it’s worth looking at the color wheel to determine which shades work well together. Color theory shows us some shades work well together, while others can clash, creating visual complexity. 

The color wheel used by the average graphic designer is divided into three components. First, we have primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Next, there’s secondary colors: orange, green, and violet. Finally, mixing two primary colors can lead to “tertiary colors” and shades. 

When choosing your brand colors, there are number of strategies you can consider, such as:

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Monochromatic designs

A monochromatic color scheme doesn’t necessarily mean using just black and white in your logo’s design. Instead, you focus on one color, and the various shades within it. For instance, you might use two different shades of blue, to create contrast and visual interest. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Analogous colors

Analogous logos are made up of colors that sit close to each other in the color wheel. For instance, orange, red, and yellow are all closely connected. This means they often work well when placed in close proximity. However, they can make it difficult to create a logo with high contrast. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Complementary colors

Complementary colors are the shades that sit opposite from each other on the color wheel. For instance, blue and yellow are “complementary” because they oppose each other. Complementary shades can be useful for a brand’s color palette because each color stands out. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Split complementary colors

With a split-complementary design, you use two similar colors, matched with one opposing color. For instance, you might use two shades of blue/purple, and a shade of yellow. This can create a rich contrast, but can also lead to colors that clash. 

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

Triadic colors

Triadic logos use three colors, equally spaced on the color wheel. For instance, you might use pink, cyan, and yellow. Since all of these colors are somewhat opposing, it can be easy to create a “clash” with your image. That’s why it’s best to focus on giving more space to one specific shade.

How Many Colors Should A Logo Have

How to choose logo colors

While most designers use specific rules and guidelines to create a brand logo, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to choosing color schemes. The best logo colors for each brand will vary depending on their brand personality traits, and target audience. 

Before you begin the logo design process, you’ll need to answer some important questions about your company, and the people you want to reach. 

Here are some key steps to help… 

Step 1: Define your brand

A logo’s colors should be representative of the core components of its brand. Before you start experimenting with logo templates, ask yourself what you want customers to think about your company. 

What kind of values do you stand for, and what is your brand message?

It may also be worth considering the industry you serve. Some color choices will work better for certain sectors than others. For instance, while it makes sense to use the color green in the national geographic logo, the same shade might not be as appealing in the beauty industry.

Step 2: Consider color psychology

Understanding the meaning of colors and how they resonate with your customers is crucial to making the right color choices. When working on your company logo, ask yourself which shades are most likely to support your core values and personality traits. 

Do you want to be seen as passionate and bold? If so, the color red might be a good choice. If you’re hoping to convey calm and reassurance, blue may be a better pick. Remember green logos, blue logos, black logos, and more all have their own distinct meaning.

Step 3: Know your audience

The meaning of each color, and the impact it has on your audience can vary depending on your industry, and your geographical location. In western cultures, red is frequently connected with love and passion. In Asian cultures, red is linked to luck and longevity. 

Understanding your target audience, and their different cultures, will help you to avoid making mistakes with your color choices. If you’re targeting a global audience, you’ll need to ensure your color choices will resonate with as many people as possible. 

Step 4: Examine the competition

Each industry has its own common colors. Silver, black, and white are common in the technology space, while yellow logos are frequent in the food landscape. Sometimes, the best logo colors will be the ones your audience expects to see in your industry. 

However, it sometimes makes sense to think outside of the box too. Looking at your competitors, and the main color they use in their designs can help you to create an emblem that’s more distinctive. Just make sure the colors you choose send the right message. 

Step 5: Experiment with logo color combinations

Once you have a strong understanding of your brand, your audience, and the competition, you can finally begin experimenting with your logo’s colors. Think about how different hues can work harmoniously together, to create a logo that’s both meaningful and visually appealing.

Although it’s important to make an impact with your logo, it’s best to avoid bold colors that might clash and cause visual strain. This could harm a customer’s perception of your brand, and make it harder for customers to remember your business. 

Step 6: Think about color format

In today’s versatile world, brand colors need to work well across a range of formats. In most cases, when you work with a designer to create your brand, you’ll create various different versions of your logo, in different shades, including black and white. 

This helps to ensure your logo will continue to send the same message in different mediums. Consistency is crucial for effective branding. Make sure your brand identity is still strong, regardless of different tones and shades. 

Step 7: Create brand guidelines

Once you’ve established which colors are going to work best for your business, it’s important to make sure they’re used consistently. Each color in the world today has its own CMYK, RGB, or hex code. Outlining these details in your brand guidelines is crucial. 

The guidelines you create will ensure your company logo makes the right impression, and stays consistent across all channels. It will also help when it comes to printing your logos on packaging, or creating merchandise for your team. 

So, how many colors should a logo have? It can be difficult to answer this question. Ultimately, most logo designers will recommend using no more than 3 colors in your logo. The more complicated your palette is, the more confusing it can become. 

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to choose a powerful color palette. Different colors represent different things. Each shade you choose needs to be representative of your brand, your values, and your target audience. 

Choose the right color palette, and the shades you pick can play an important role in strengthening your connections with your customers. Choose the wrong colors, and you could risk sending a problematic message to your community. 

The best way to ensure you can design a good logo that resonates with your target market is to work with a professional designer. An experienced logo designer can help you to choose a great color palette, based on your business and industry. 

Getting a little extra help with your color choices initially could mean you can avoid having to redesign your logo or rebrand in the future. Reach out to Fabrik brands today for help choosing the perfect color palette. 

Fabrik: A branding agency for our times.

Stephen Peate
Creative director
Stephen Peate
Creative director
As Fabrik’s creative director, Stephen oversees complex branding programmes. He advises our clients on their tone of voice, creates logos and visual identities and crafts names for companies, products and services. Writing for Brand Fabrik Stephen reflects his love for logo design and visual identity.

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