How many colors a logo should have

Why A Logo Should Have 1-3 Colors At Most

Why A Logo Should Have 1-3 Colors At Most 1024 602 Nick Saporito

How many colors should a logo have? In my experience, anywhere from 1 to 3 colors. There’s always exceptions, but that seems to be the sweet spot. Let’s elaborate on this a bit.

Logo Design Guide


Curious about the creative process that inspires me to come up with design ideas and how I go about executing them? Be sure to check out my logo design guide for a look behind the scenes at my systematic approach to coming up with design ideas.

Learn How To Design Logos

How Many Colors A Logo Should Have

1 Color

One of the many characteristics of a good logo is that it’s simple, and use of color has a big impact on that. Using only 1 color for your logo will ensure simplicity.

Some of the world’s most recognized brands use just a single color for their logo. Here’s some examples…

Single color logo examples

2 Colors

Using 2 colors also lends itself to simplicity, but there are some very basic guidelines that should be considered when using multiple colors.

When designing a logo with 2 colors, it is recommended to use colors that either oppose each other on the color wheel, or contrast well with each other.

Here’s an example of a color wheel…

Logo color wheel

150+ Logo Templates

Need a professional logo but have a limited budget? Or are you a designer looking to add to your inventory of design elements? Check out my bundle of 150+ high quality logo templates, all designed by Yours Truly.

Get Your Logo Templates!

Colors close to each other on the color wheel tend to clash, especially when being used at a similar contrast. Choosing opposing colors ensures that they’ll complement each other.

Professional sports teams tend to make good use of the color wheel when establishing their logos and brand colors. Here’s some examples of such…

Logos that use 2 colors

You don’t always have to use colors that oppose each other on the color wheel though. You can use different shades of the same color as long as they’re at different contrasts…

Contrasting shades of the same color

Finally, you could also take a single color and pair it with any shade in grayscale. Black, white and gray go well with any color…

Grayscale color pairing

3 Colors

If you want to get a little more creative, you can use 3 colors for your logo. You’ll generally want to apply the same rules of using 2 colors as you would with 3 colors…

  • Colors opposite each other on the color wheel
  • Different contrasts of the same color
  • Either of the above paired with a shade from the grayscale

Here’s some examples of 3 colors being used effectively in a logo…

3 color logo examples

The Oklahoma City Thunder logo uses two contrasting shades of blue paired with orange, which opposes blue on the color wheel.

The Orlando Magic logo uses two contrasting shades of blue paired with a grayscale shade.

Another approach you can take when using 3 colors for your logo is to pick 3 shades that oppose each other on the color wheel in a triangular shape. Here’s an example of such…

Triangular color wheel usage

Notice how blue, yellow, and red oppose each other in a triangular shape. Although the shade of yellow is being used at a very low saturation, it’s within the yellow category, so the same guidelines apply.

The Exceptions

I generally don’t recommend using more than 3 colors for a logo, but there’s always exceptions to the rules, and I don’t like placing limitations on creativity. Here’s some examples of famous brands that use 4 or more colors for their logo…

Logos that use multiple colors

Using multiple colors, from a psychological standpoint, tends to communicate diversity. You can read more about the link between colors and psychology here.

The Importance of Versatility

If there’s one thing I’d like to underscore in this post more than anything else, it’s that making sure your logo works with or without color is far more important than how many colors a logo should have.

Versatile logo design

Since a logo can be used in a wide range of contexts, it’s important to make sure it’s versatile. It needs to be legible when printed on an all white window decal, or embroidered onto a shirt, for example.

A logo that depends on its colors is lacking in versatility. This is why I always design my logos in black and white first, then add color later.

Considerations

I’d like to wrap this up by stating that all of the guidelines discussed in this post are just suggestions; not steadfast rules. You won’t have to look very far to find examples of logo designs that break the rules remarkably well. These guidelines are solid and will always steer you in the right direction, but don’t let adherence to them stifle your creativity when determining how many colors a logo should have!

Become A Master of Inkscape!

Want to learn more about how Inkscape works? Check out the Inkscape Master Class – a comprehensive series of over 50 videos where I go over every tool, feature and function in Inkscape and explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s useful.

Get 20% Off All Products

Join the Logos By Nick mailing list to be notified of new posts and receive 20% off all courses, templates, and learning materials. Your information won't be shared with any third parties and you will never receive any kind of SPAM or promotional email from me.

Logos By Nick LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Read affiliate disclosure.

Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

All stories by: Nick Saporito
4 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.