Color Theory in Logo Design: How to Match

You’re at trivia night, a blue bird shows up at your round, and you automatically score. The same thing may happen with a black or silver half-bitten apple. There’s no escape. You perceive those shapes, you see those colors, and your mind goes to Twitter or Apple’s universes. Why does that happen? They’re worldwide recognizable brands, sure. But (a great) part of their strength also comes from the simple traces of their logo and – perhaps even more important – from a clever color’s choice. Yeah, it’s not all just about art. Technique and science have something to do with it, too.

That’s why choosing the right color for your logo is not an easy task, alone. And it may get you in trouble when it comes the time to choose more than one. Fortunately, you are reading this, and I have some basic color tricks to teach you.

So, if you’re starting your own company or taking a chance as a logo designer, stick around and give your logo a color spin!


The Color Wheel

This is the basics of the basics. Perhaps you’ve met this wheel at elementary school. But, by that time, you didn’t know that it could become one of your best friends. I’m not kidding! This wheel is like a Yoda for logo designers: it’s got all the answers for your color questions. Don’t you believe it? What if I tell you that, virtually, you can pick any colors from this wheel and your logo will look good? It may sound magic, but it’s only the great outcome of a well-designed tool.

The color wheel has 12 color hues, being the “hue” the property of light that makes you say something is red, blue, yellow, and so on. All the hues are distributed around a central hub, which unveils certain combinations that work perfectly together. Those combinations are also called “color harmonies” and that’s all you’ve been looking for. Let’s meet them!

Complementary Colors

Think about Heineken. A red star over green background, white lettering, and the job is done! What’s their secret? They matched two opposite colors of your wheel friend. The created contrast energizes the logo and that looks good to your sight. Designhill can help you to get the most exclusive t-shirt logo design, based on your preference and objective.

Use complementary colors whenever you want something to stand out. Purple and yellow, orange and blue, red-purple and yellow-green, or blue-green and red-orange are some of the mixes you may choose to color your logo up.

Analogous Colors

Sometimes, the most coherent answer is next to us. Thus, sometimes, all you need is to grab three colors that neighbor each other on the color wheel. By doing that, you’ll get a monochromatic and serene mood. But please don’t forget that some contrast may benefit your logo. So, one of your colors should be more dominant than the other two.

To get started, a dark-green may be your main hue, followed by a light-green to support it and, lastly, a yellow to complete the pack with an accent. Give it a try!

Triadic Colors

Hungry for a vivacious style? Instead of matching neighbor colors, group the ones that are equally distant on the color wheel. Set a goal for the emotional response you want your logo to convey and start matching!

With red, yellow, and a little bit of blue as an accent, for example, energy and passion will come up. If you need to calm things down, reverse the game: use blue as your dominant color, pick up a red shadow and choose yellow for details.

Tetradic Colors

Don’t get scared by the fancy name! Tetradic schemes are simpler than they seem. Want to bet? Imagine a rectangle inside the color wheel. The vertices of the rectangle point to the four colors you may match.

Purple, blue-green, yellow-green, and red offer you different possible combinations. It only gets complicated if you don’t pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors. Nothing that a bit of training can’t solve!

Split Complementary Colors

Lastly, the solution for your logo may appear in the shape of a triangle. This triangle uses one base color and two secondary ones. As there are two secondaries, your base one will never get too strong.

Red, orange, and blue-green fit perfectly together. And they’re a great option, in case you’re not comfortable using a complementary scheme yet.

Final Thoughts

Colors are a powerful design element. With them, you can attract attention or even make a statement. And now you know how it’s done. Next time you design a logo, grab the color wheel, and use it to make your logo stand out!