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Why Color is the Least Important Part of a Logo Design

Working with a new client, I have a template that I use to show them their logo designs. On the third slide, it says in bolded, italicized text: "These concepts are done in black and white to start so that you can focus on the structure of the logo without color getting in the way." But without further explanation - I wondered if the purpose was clear enough.

Why is color the last thing I incorporate for a new logo design?

The folks I work with are business owners, and nine times out of ten, they're not creative people - hence why they are hiring someone to fill that gap for them. While a creative person could look at something and generally see the nuances of a color, chances are that a business person has a limited color vocabulary and would have a hard time voicing that the blue they're envisioning needs to have more green in it.

When I present the initial concepts to the client - sometimes even through the first few rounds - we're not even talking about colors yet. Maybe we discussed it briefly on our initial Idea to Execution Consult, but we haven't fully gone down that rabbit hole yet. Black and white concepts allow the client to see the pieces of the logo, without "the wrong blue" getting in the way. They can see the hidden iconography in the logo mark, they can see how the font is wide, skinny, tall, or sans-serif, and how the brand name is sized in relation to the logo mark. They can see the overlapping elements clearly. All of these things are just as - if not more - important to the logo design as color.

There's also another reason...

Designing a logo in black and white allows me as the designer to ensure logo versatility.

What's that mean?

At the end of a logo project, my client gets a suite of files. This is usually a zip folder with organized sub folders for different layouts and color options. It generally looks like this:

And if they drill down into the "wide" folder, they would typically see something like this:

Not every logo project has every format or color option, but by doing everything I can to ensure that they have:

  1. A wide version

  2. A stacked version

  3. A logo mark by itself

  4. An all white version

  5. An all black version

Will allow the client to be prepared for whatever branding challenge gets thrown at them.

By designing logos in black and white from the get-go and adding color later, I'm solving for versatility first!

What about when the client wants something that doesn't fit the versatility mold?

Yes - it happens! I have one particular client in mind who knew exactly what he wanted when he approached me about working together. And what he wanted broke the versatility mode wiiiiiide open! But, I guided him through the future challenges he would face, and made sure that he had a secondary option when all was said and done so that his brand could be as versatile as possible. And he LOVED the end result!

The logo on the right is his primary logo - it's in color, and it very much only fits in a square - which can be tricky for a website application. It's also the last version of the logo he saw! When we started the project, he saw a reversed version of what's on the left - all black outlines. We continued that way until he was happy with the structure and the story that the logo told even without the color added. Originally, he asked for a blue and gray logo - but when we started playing with colors, there were obviously more colors added in! The version on the bottom of these two is his secondary version - and it solves the need for a wide format that fits into the brand identity... and he also has an all black and an all white version if it, too. While he may not use the secondary logo often, it's a good asset for him to have available.

That's why I'll continue designing logos in black and white to start, and always advocate for a versatile logo as part of my clients' brands.

If you're interested in working together on a branding project for your business, let's schedule your free, no-obligation Idea to Execution Consult now!


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