In an earlier post, the color wheel and the different color relationships were introduced as the major concepts involved in using color in logo design. This article, on the other hand, takes these ideas one step further by discussing the following color options: monochromatic logos, logos with one color plus black, and logos with complementary colors.

Monochromatic Logos
The prefix “mono-” means “one;” hence, “monochromatic” simply means “one color.” Generally, most of the colors from the color wheel will actually work as a single color design — red, blue, green, violet, and orange, to name a few. However there are some colors that just would not work alone because they are “too light” and are hardly noticeable in a clear (or white) background. These colors include yellow, yellow orange, and yellow green. Still, if you are keen on using these colors, then it would be better to “outline” them with a darker color, or you could “blend” them with black or gray to darken them up.

Logos with One Color Plus Black
Notably, most of the wheel colors will work together with black (i.e. when black is not used as an “outline”). However, there are a few exceptions, particularly: blue violet, yellow, and yellow green. There is simply not enough “tonal” differences between black and blue violet to make them work well together. On the other hand — unless black is used as an outline — it will not work well with yellow or yellow green as these appear “too light” on a white background.

Logos with Complementary Colors
In an earlier post, “”complementary colors”” were defined as those that are located on opposite sides of the color wheel, such as yellow and violet, orange and blue, as well as red and green. Although the term “complementary” implies that these colors go well together, you should still be aware of “how” to put them together effectively:

  • Yellow letters look good on a violet background, and vice versa. However, when placed on a white background, the yellow is hardly noticeable.
  • Orange letters look good on a blue background, and vice versa. Likewise, a combination of the two colors looks okay on a white background as well as on a black background.
  • Red and green, the familiar “colors of Christmas” look good together on either a white or black background. However, red letters on a green background (and vice versa) do not look so good, unless the letters are outlined in white. In most cases, a white outline can help “fix” a complementary color combination.

So as you can see, choosing your logo color (or colors) is not as easy as pie. It takes some time, trial and error, and careful analysis to find the perfect color combination for your logo. Hopefully, these articles on colors are able to provide you with a good background on the subject and spur you in the right direction.