Gradient colors in logo design. Can logos have gradient?
Using gradient colors in logo design
Nowadays is very popular and trendy to see gradient colors in logo design and we can often face these kind of logos. Personally speaking, I like to see these kind of logos, but I always ask to myself: “how will be the printed result?” That’s the first question I always have in mind, because color application is very tricky when we speak about printing.
Since I often face gradient colors in logo design, I would like to share my experience and my point of view. Application of gradient colors on a logotype or a logo mark is a trend from the past few years. Bright and shine colors are coloring not only the logos but also user interfaces and branding assets. But the main question of this topic is: “Can logos have gradient?”. My answer is: depends. No concrete answer right? I will try to explain it in more details, so let’s analyze some points.
Color models and printing issue
Color of a logo, of a brand is applied according to the use and not only about the psychology and the emotions we want to stimulate to the consumers. The first issue can come if the logo is used both on screens and printing. We know well that there are 2 main color models in the graphic design: the RGB and the CMYK. Not going very deep in the color models, but basically we are aware that the first model is for the web use, while the second is used for printing. The RGB model can execute much more color combinations than the CMYK model, in few words many colors cannot be reproduced and the very bright color in the gradient will be completely different from the one you see in the computer screen. Printing is always the tricky part, and not only about gradients, but a mix of bright colors on a gradient will definitely have a loss in printing. A simple example below.
We can now see the huge difference between the two color models, and you can imagine how will be the printed… This is the main reason for avoiding gradient colors in logo design. The example above is the result combining a very bright lime green and a shade of cyan color, but there are cases where the gradient between two colors is very similar and we can barely perceive. And we go with another example.
That’s the result. We can recognize the difference in the RGB model but not very well or not at all in the CMYK model. This is an important point that a designer must know when is applying a color to a logo.
Why are gradient colors used?
A good question that can be answered shortly. Gradients can be used for different purposes as to give a 3D effect, to give a more modern touch, or because a gradient color is more eye catching and can easily get attention. Everyone knows Instagram and its logo, is nice and bright, is very modern and trendy, and again: how will be once printed? Most probably Instagram has another version for the printing use, which we can see also in some pages of the app or in the interface.
Instagram is not the only one to use a gradient in their logo. There are several companies that do it and I have found some examples of gradient application in logos. Three big brand, three different business but with a thing in common: the gradient. Firefox, Alfa Romeo and Tinder have a shades of colors in their logos, but all of them have a solid alternative for a different use. They have a solid and flat color version that can be applied according to the purpose, and one of them can be also the printing.
If you are curious and you would like to know more about these brands, and how they developed their visual identities, I suggest to see their brand guidelines.
Every designer must keep in mind the use and the application, and find the right way to resolve the problem. If we have a look to the logo mark I have designed, we can see that can be managed well. We have the gradient logo, the solid monochrome version and also the solid flat color alternative.
The final answer
After analyzing the cases and the examples above, we can resume the conclusion. The question to answer was if we can use a gradient colors in logo design right? Therefore we can still say that it depends. Depends by the brief, depends by the use, depends by many aspects of the brand. Know the use of the logo is one of the most important thing for a designer, and must be clarified during the brief with the client. Essential to ask: “will the logo be printed?” Then we can plan the solution during the creative process, and we can decide whether we can use a gradient or whether is better to avoid it. As we saw in the examples above, is possible to apply a gradient color on a logo mark, but it would be better to have a solid and flat version of the logo. The designer is the planner, the designer must know how to proceed, and using a gradient color is up to us, how we develop the brand and the entire visual communication assets.