Print color variation in logo design


I love logos. This also means I love logo design. One thing I dislike about some logo designs is that there are no color variations. What do I mean? For example, two print designs came across my desk with a change request. One design was for letterhead and the other design was for an envelope. The request was to convert the designs to run as a two color print job. The logo in these designs were full color, meaning it used all four ink colors, cyan, magenta, yellow and black to create its color build. After a review it was clear the logo could only be changed to run as a three color print job. This is where a logo color variations are needed for a specific print run. When this logo was designed, a variation should have been created for full, one, two or three color printing. In addition to variations, a logo style guide would have been helpful for the client to give to a service provider.

Logo Design

In the scenario above the logo is the issue but the problem began during the design process. Having color variations of your logo helps expand options in producing marketing materials using offset printing, digital printing, screen printing or any other printing process. To achieve this, you, as a business owner must tell your designer about your potential printing needs in the initial brief. If you do not, the logo designer should ask about your potential use. At the end of your design process a logo style guide with multiple file formats should be provided as well.

The Logo Style Guide

What is a logo style guide? This is simply a guideline on the use of your logo. When working with printers and designers one should be provided to guide them in the proper usage. The style guide should contain at minimum the use of colors, fonts, standard size and positioning. A logo style guide will be a part of your branding which will become clearer as your business grows.

What does this look like?

I was hired by a general contractor starting a new business to design his logo. In this design I provided three logo variations, full color, two color and single color for printing. Providing these variations created options when printing stationery and marketing materials. When he goes to a printer he can provide them with the necessary files to produce any printing job he needs.

Logo variation sample

Logo design for HT Builder created for use in full, one and two color printing. This sample was taken from the logo style guide.


One logo designed in full color only works if all printed materials will be printed in full color. Some budgets do not allow for full color printing so an alternative must be present. Logo color variations provide opportunities to produce printing materials within a budget. If you are thinking about having a logo designed consider having a black and white, one, two or three color option also.