Do’s and Dont’s of Using Gradients in Logo Design [Infographic]

Written by Branding, Design

You feel as if your new company is totally unique, so your logo needs to express that uniqueness. And it’s hard to be unique when using one color or two colors in your logo and thousands of companies are out there using the same colors.

As you sit and stare at the color palette, trying to figure out how to be totally unique with such limited choices, you might wish there were a way to define a new color. Many designers have taken to that challenge by incorporating color blends into their logo designs (think Instagram over Facebook or Twitter). Some designers go so far as to define these gradients as the new color palette, while others stand staunchly in the corner of the traditional color wheel.

Whether that popularity leads to a new norm or if it’s just a trend, time will tell (or the gods of trendiness, whoever they are, will declare it a trend, then by the nature of trends, it must change).

As you consider your logo design and whether to incorporate a gradient, consider these questions:

Is a Gradient Substituting for Design?

Of course, the most effective logo is going to be one with a strong design. If the color gradient is the main design element or trying to make up for a weak design, you’re on the wrong track.

Will a Gradient Overwhelm Your Design?

If you have a strong graphic element in your design that will speak directly to your customers about your company, will a gradient confuse the issue? We see gradient colors frequently in nature, so a representation of a plant or sun could be strengthened by a gradient color. But if you’re incorporating a representation of an inanimate object, rarely do they appear in a graded color, so a gradient might just confuse your customers.

Will a Gradient Affect Readability?

If your company name is going to be a principle part of your logo, will it still read well with a color blend? You certainly can control this by making only a slight gradient so the letters don’t fade beyond recognition.

How Will the Colors Blend?

If you have two colors already in mind, you want to understand what colors the blend will create. Say you like red and green, do you really want a brown swath dominating the center of your logo?

Will the Gradient Convert to Black and White?

In almost any business, at some point your logo will need to be reproduced in black and white. You’ll want to ensure the blend doesn’t disappear or become a gray or black blob when converted to black and white.

How Will Your Logo Be Used?

Of course, this is the million dollar question. A gradient can look great on the computer screen, but how will it appear in print? And what volume of printing will you do? Smaller job printing that can be done affordably on a color copier can handle gradients pretty well. But if you’re mass producing printed products that will be more economically done on an offset press, they will not handle color gradients as well.

Or will your business be dealing in swag, such as pens or flash drives or other small objects you’ll be giving away at trade shows and other events? For these types of products, a gradient color is nearly impossible to reproduce, especially without sacrificing quality or increasing your cost prohibitively.

Another consideration will be if your logo needs to appear in lower-resolution computer formats, such as .gif’s. These cannot handle the millions of colors needed to produced a fluid gradient, so you end up with bands of color that simulate the gradient, which may destroy your logo’s effectiveness.

Creating a logo that represents your company today, tomorrow and hopefully 20 years down the road is one of the more important decisions you make in establishing your business and your brand. You may only have one chance to get it right (of course, it’s possible to change a logo down the road, but you risk losing brand awareness).

The expert design team at Printleaf can help you work through these questions and determine if or how a gradient can be an effective element in the design of your business logo.

Gradient Do's and Dont's [Infographic]

Last modified: January 31, 2020

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