Three Color Logomarks, Logotypes and Simple Symbols

Adapted from Colour Management for Logos: A comprehensive guide for graphic designers (RotoVision)

By John Drew and Sarah Meyer


A true three-color logomark, using three inks, is rare in comparison with all other marks. Not quite four colors, a three-color mark offers little budgetary gain, and is far more expensive than a one- or two-color mark. Therefore, stretching two colors to make them look like three is often a better solution.

Many of the traditional color schemes that have been empirically tested by generations use three hues. Primary, secondary, tertiary, triadic, split complementary, and an analogous color scheme use three hues to construct the palette. However, many of the traditional color palettes that utilize two hues can be easily altered to create a complex color scheme. From budgetary concerns to legibility issues, color ultimately controls the effectiveness of the end product.


Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, University of California, Santa Cruz

Designer: Carol Chu

If done correctly, any time a 3-D illusion can be achieved within a logomark, the mark will inherently have redeeming attributes. The four bands representing justice, tolerance, community, and university are conceived in such a way as to give this mark unity and depth.

Associative Color Response

  • charming, elegant, refined: high-chroma blue-violet
  • elegant: pastel blue-violet
  • dignified, lively, pleasant: high-chroma blue
  • pleasant, peaceful, happy: pastel blue

Color Scheme: simple analogous with tinting



amangah

Designer: Azin Ghazinia

The economy of line found within this logotype is remarkable. The two letterforms, lowercase “a” and “g,” not only act as initials for “amangah” but also operate as a face. The red and yellow dots reference human eyes, and the ascender and descender represent hair and the silhouette of a jaw line respectively.

Associative Color Response

  • powerful, basic: black
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red
  • excitement, stimulating, fun: high-chroma yellow-orange

Color Scheme: primary plus neutral



The Tipperary Inn: Aids Arms Life Walk

Designer: Mark Raebel
Studio: Arsenal Design

The two hues utilized within this mark are conveyed in a symbolic manner appropriate to the content. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” as the old saying goes, and in this case the message is conveyed through the use of color.

Associative Color Response

  • empathy, complete, smooth: pastel yellow-green
  • new growth: mid-range yellow-green
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red

Color Scheme: near complementary with tinting



Let’s Go To Work

Designer: Mark Raebel
Studio: Arsenal Design

As shown here, a gross screen pattern and high-contrast image is best when it is utilized within a mark. In this way, the mark can be used in all media with no significant loss of quality.

Associative Color Response

  • excitement, stimulating, fun: high-chroma yellow-orange
  • pleasant, peaceful, happy: pastel blue
  • dignified, lively, pleasant: high-chroma blue

Color Scheme: direct complementary with tinting



The Dorrance Group

Designer: Mark Raebel
Studio: Arsenal Design

The Dorrance Group mark is constructed in a symmetrical manner. However, the mid-range yellow-orange and blue-green are added to energize the mark. The “dg” is tilted in an upward 45-degree angle, amplifying the positive kinetic energy found within this color scheme.

Associative Color Response

  • comfortable: mid-range yellow-orange
  • mellow: mid-range blue-green
  • quality: neutral gray

Color Scheme: incongruous plus neutral (tinted)



CBPTV

Designer: Greg Friedrick

The color scheme utilized within this logotype operates in a manner that clarifies how the acronym should be pronounced.

Associative Color Response

  • pleasant, peaceful, happy: pastel blue
  • dignified, lively, pleasant: high-chroma blue
  • excitement, stimulating, fun: high-chroma yellow-orange

Color Scheme: near complementary with tinting



Har-Vest

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet
Studio: Boom Creative

The black hue operates to define the silhouette of the mark, and is very legible from a distance. The high-chroma blue functions to define details within, while the neutral gray conveys highlights and softens the harshness of the mark.

Associative Color Response

  • dignified, lively, pleasant: high-chroma blue
  • quality: neutral gray
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: one hue with neutrals (tinted)




Delta Chi International Convention

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

The near complementary color combination with high-chroma hues creates a truly dynamic box design. The color palette coupled with the graphics not only make this design stand out from its competitors, but also make the product explode off the shelf.

Associative Color Response

  • powerful, basic: black
  • excitement, stimulating, fun: high-chroma yellow-orange
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red

Color Scheme: near incongruous plus neutral




Bumbershoot Forge

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

This beautifully executed color scheme harmonizes well with the script typeface, giving the mark a look of elegance.

Associative Color Response

  • excitement, stimulating, fun:
  • chroma yellow-orange
  • flamboyant, elegant: high-
  • red-violet
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: incongruous plus black




David Ellis Photography

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

The method of separation is utilized within this logotype to pull out the most meaningful content. This is done through the use of color (red). Note that “photography,” in red, is typeset much smaller than the rest of the mark. There are many technical ways to create separation (to mark out plainly the most meaningful part), and one of these is to be understated—this technique is superbly done here.

Associative Color Response

  • quality: neutral gray
  • professional: dark gray
  • powerful, basic: black
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red

Color Scheme: one hue with neutrals (tinted)




Hughes Holdings

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

The white hue is achieved through type reversal. Many times an additional hue can be achieved by reversing out the type to the color of the substrate. However, if the paper is something other than white, the colors within the hue scheme will be tinted the hue of the substrate.

Associative Color Response

  • warm-hearted, welcome, good: earth-tone red
  • serene, credible, devoted: dark blue
  • clean, cool, innocent: white

Color Scheme: near incongruous with white




Tirestore.com

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

In this logomark, black is utilized to ground the mark while red-orange and red-violet are used to create a lively color combination that helps to create kinetic energy and make the mark memorable.

Associative Color Response

  • powerful, basic: black
  • flamboyant, elegant: high-chroma red-violet
  • friendly: high-chroma red-orange

Color Scheme: near simple analogous plus neutral




Prescriptions Plus

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

Choosing the right color scheme for the right job or subject matter can sometimes make a critical difference. In this case, designer Drew M. Dallet selected two hues that match the safety and health aspects concerning the delivery of prescription drugs.

Associative Color Response

  • service, clear, security: high-chroma blue
  • new, pristine, pure: high-chroma blue-green
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: simple analogous plus neutral




Velo

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

This simple analogous color palette helps to convey the client’s intent by creating a mark that appears to be both global and radiating out from the center. This is brought about through the use of warm and cool colors.

Associative Color Response

  • warm-hearted, welcome, good: earth-tone red
  • flamboyant, elegant: high-chroma red-violet
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: simple analogous plus neutral




Chelsea Title Agency

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

The Chelsea Title Agency crest is an excellent example of using the correct color combination to create a visual impression. In this case, gold, red, and black combine to help create a mark of prestige.

Note, when dealing with metallic inks, create a sidebar electronic mechanical that runs on the wastepaper surface of the printed job. Overprint the metallic inks, in different tints, with the other hues. Most printers, so long as there is no trim work, will print the sidebar with no additional cost. This will yield tremendous insight into how to use metallic inks more effectively and uniquely. This can be done with all hues.

Associative Color Response

  • valuable, radiant: gold
  • powerful, basic: black
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red

Color Scheme: near incongruous plus neutral




First Nation Supply

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

The mark and color scheme for First National Supply is a Native American symbol, Dreamcatcher, and reflects the sensibilities of the owner’s and client’s cultural sensibilities.

Associative Color Response

  • excitement, stimulating, fun: high-chroma yellow-orange
  • brilliant, intense, energizing: high-chroma red
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: near incongruous plus neutral




InSight

Designer/Creative Director: Drew M. Dallet Studio: Boom Creative

This simple monochromatic color study with tinting effectively creates movement from right to left. Emphasis is placed on “In” to create a stress point for proper pronunciation and inflection.

Associative Color Response

  • charming, elegant, refined: high-chroma blue-violet
  • classic: mid-range blue-violet
  • elegant: pastel blue-violet

Color Scheme: monochromatic with tinting




Yujin Ono 1

Designer: Yujin Ono
Art Director: John T. Drew

An achromatic color palette is utilized here to create a mark that is conservative and professional. The two circles are added to help create a counterbalance and infuse the mark with a minimal amount of kinetic energy.

Associative Color Response

  • quality, basic: muddy gray
  • quality: neutral gray
  • professional: dark gray
  • powerful, basic: black

Color Scheme: achromatic





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Excerpted with permission from Color Management for Packaging by John Drew and Sarah Meyer. Copyright © 2008 (RotoVision).