Color Wheel Theory: How to Elevate Your Logo


In our last blog, we discussed how to make a great logo, as well as what certain colors represent in a logo. But how, once you choose a shade, do you pick a great complementary color or accent color to make your logo pop? The answer is the color wheel.

The color wheel is a circular, chromatic organization of colors. For logo design and online use, the RGB (red, green, blue) color wheel is used, as those three shades of light are what make up the colors we see in a digital form. The color wheel is a great blend of the science of what we see and the principles of art and design. This fascinating tool is used all over the world by designers, as time and time again color wheel theory has proven true. 

Let’s review some terms as they relate to the color wheel: primary colors in the RGB color wheel are those that create white light when combined: red, green, and blue. Secondary colors are those made by mixing the primary colors: these are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and a secondary color. There are six of these — orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, and rose. 

The color wheel is crafted by placing the primary colors as far from each other as possible on a circular chart, placing the secondary colors between them, and then filling in with tertiary colors. After that, hues are mixed and combined to fill in all of the spaces between. Lighter and darker versions of the colors are incorporated as well to fill out the wheel. has a great color wheel tool for choosing a color scheme, as well as options to select what kind of color combination you would like. 

What are these types of color combinations? You’re in luck, because this is your chance to learn even more vocabulary. Complementary colors are those that are directly opposite on the color wheel. These colors together are often very pleasing to the eye and create a striking contrast. 

Analogous color combinations are those directly next to each other on the color wheel. For example, a logo design with green, light blue, and dark blue would be using an analogous color combination. 

Triadic color combinations are those colors that fall at three equidistant points on the color wheel (like those primary colors we talked about, red, green, and blue). This combination is very bold, and provides high contrast like complementary colors, but to a lesser degree. 

Tetradic color combinations are those colors that fall at four equidistant points on the color wheel. It’s a good idea with these color schemes to choose one color to be the dominant hue and use the others as accent, so that the four colors don’t become overwhelming.


Monochromatic colors are those of the same hue, but of different tints, shades, and tones (to know the difference between these, click here). Monochromatic color schemes are very subtle, which can be desirable depending on the feel of your business.

Speaking of which, remember to match the colors you choose to the personality of your business. To do this, think about which colors are warm and which are cool. If you go with complementary colors, often one is cool and one is warm. Warm colors — like red, yellow, orange — provide a feeling of energy, excitement, and, of course, warmth. Cool colors, such as blue, green, and purple, are calming, cooling, and can provide a feeling of isolation. If your business is highly professional, cool colors could be a better option. If you are looking to show that your business is enthusiastic, make warm colors your choice. You can have both, of course, but it makes a difference when you decide which color to emphasize over another.

Color makes our world interesting, vibrant, and beautiful. Let it do the same for your logo! Of course, if you need help, we at 5th Factory are here for you. Send us an email today at so we can pick out the right colors for you and your company to make your logo and website pop!

Annie Mahaffey