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A Very Simple Concept – Logo Colors

I’ve covered some basics when selecting logo colors here, but recently I’ve encountered another blunder that would make experienced designers and production artists scratch their heads.

All companies need to change and make new decisions, whether it is simple as choosing paper towels vs. hand dryers or more complex like allocating more money to staffing or to add to an advertising budget.

But with change, experience (or at least some trial and error) goes a long way. I recently received a new logo from a major company. I always feel privileged when this happens, because it gives me a slight edge. I am able to show off my designs using their newest logo/colors etc. and it ends up giving them a great impression. But there was/is a slight problem with their new logo … their colors. More specifically, lack-there-of. The logo I received had a 3 color PMS version – and well, that’s about it. There was one labeled “2 color PMS”, but all that entailed was changing one of the colors to white, which is great … if the background happens to be one of the other two colors (wait, wouldn’t that look weird?).

Here are some color tips when setting up a new logo.
1. Try to narrow your logo down to no more than 4 colors.
2. Now narrow it down to 3.
3. Now narrow it down to 2.
4. Yup, you got it, narrow it down to 1.

Think of spot colors that they should be. Then convert those to CMYK. Save a version of each (of the previously mentioned 4 tips).

So, let’s say you have 4 colors (no blends, solids, no shadows, no transparencies), are you still thinking of running these as spot colors? That’s fine by me, but have you priced it out running it CMYK? The quality might not meet your expectations, but the price may change things.

You got it down to 3, 2, or 1 color(s)? Great! You’re within the norm. Now, does it print well with just black ink? Because that will always be the cheapest option. If you want “grey”, just remember that you can either screen black (loses some quality) or you can choose a PMS color.

If you decide to go with more than 4 colors (blends, shadows, transparencies etc.), you won’t have a need for PMS colors, for pricing reasons, you might as well stick with CMYK. Just remember that someday, you may want to emboss or varnish your logo … but that’s for another topic.