When talking about logo design we all know the public should be able to get the brand message in matter of seconds. Yet, having a logo with an extensive colour palette or relying too heavily on colour are very common mistakes.
Colour should be the last feature when making a logo, mainly because a logo has to look good in black and white as well as colour. That said, having the right hint is still important. And as general rule a logo design shouldn’t have more than 3 colours. Excessive use of colour can cause confusion. And a logo design can’t make a good impact with a large mix of shades and hues.
Whatever product or service you offer, you must communicate your message with a simple design and an even simpler colour palette. Harmony is about using the shades that fit together. Hence, the brain can easily process the design. Making the wrong colour choice or mixing many opposite colours could be a costly mistake. In this section we’re going to learn how to choose the right hints and why your logo design shouldn’t have more than 3 colours.
Colour is essential to create consistency. So, in order to build consistency you must avoid colour discordant compositions or in other words, mixing together the wrong colours. How we avoid that?
The colour wheel is a good place to start. Every designer refers to the colour wheel to create a balanced palette. It’s important to know the relationship colours have with one another and what kind of combination works best for your brand.
The colour wheel is divided in primary colours: red, yellow and blue. By mixing two primary colours we obtain the secondary colours: orange, green and violet. And mixing two primary colours take us to the tertiary colours: red-orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue-green, blue-violet and red violet.
This way of mixing colours have been used by artists for centuries. And it’s known as a subtractive method, which basically means mixing colours just like a traditional artist.
But, there is another way of mixing colours and it’s known as the additive method, which refers to mixing coloured light using a different set of primary colours: red, green and blue. Commonly, used in computing programing and known as RGB.
Computers handle colour differently, a web browser can only make up 256 combinations. Pixels don’t have enough bits to create all the colours combinations. Besides, Mac and PC slightly change 40 of those 256 hints.So, once you know this you can start to think on how you can use colours effectively.
You may ask yourself where you’re more likely to use the logo, as certain colour combinations may differ on different platforms. If you want to create uniformity, try to see how the logo looks on a computer screen and on paper. Again, no all computers or TV screen handle colour in the same way. It’s crucial to choose a colour palette that doesn’t have big tone variations.
This is why designers advise not to use more than 3 colours. Apart of creating confusion, you may damage the design and the message behind. It’s extremely difficult to manage a rich design all through a wide range of platforms. Thankfully, there are some combinations that can enhance your brand. We said, colours relate to one another. Quite often they are grouped according to their temperature.
Warm colours are those with a high red value. They sit next to each other in the colour wheel. Not every brand is suitable for a warm colour palette. Yet, those brands using warm colours have become familiar to consumers. Primarily, because red is a very distinctive hint.
It refers to those hints with a predominant blue value. They are next to each other in the colour wheel. And this palette is very common in business and tech brands, since it’s more pleasing to the human eye and doesn’t require too much effort to recognise.
Now, let’s take a look at the colour schemes. This will help you decide what set of colours works best for your brand.
Monochromatic: Monochromatic refers to one colour and its various shades, going from the darkest to the brightest tone. The change is subtle, but still can make a good impact. Many brands adopt the monochromatic scheme, since one colour in all its shades is easy to recognize.
Analogous Colours: Colours that are closer by proximity in the colour wheel, this is the most common colour scheme and is widely used in logo design.
Complementary: They sit opposite to each other in the colour wheel, an example blue and yellow. This combination has a “high intensity” and is used for web, graphic and logo design.
Split-Complementary: This colour scheme refers to two similar colours and one opposite. This mix although risky when used well can create a rich contrast.
Triadic: Three colours equally spaced in the colour wheel. Designers suggest to apply 60% of the same colour, then 30% and 10%. In this way, one colour is predominant and the design looks more balanced.
Tetradic or Double Complementary: This scheme combines two pair of complementary colours. This is the hardest colour combination to balance. Again, it’s advisable to use one colour as the dominant one and the rest in small proportions.
As we have seen here, a logo design shouldn’t have more than 3 colours. Too many colours may create confusion. Besides, there is always the chance of risking the design with a wide colour palette.
Colour is one element of design, but not the only one. A logo design should be clear and easy to digest. In order to build consistency a predominant colour must run all along the brand. That said, many famous brands have broken those rules.
Google and Ebay are some of them, in those cases the multicolour palette works well as the fonts are evenly distributed. They use a wide colour palette, but this doesn’t interfere with the brand message. You can break the rules but it has to be pleasurable to the eyes.