The best colors for a logo?

Jayne writes: “I am wondering about this logo for a thrift shop. My professor had told us to remember the acronym R.O.Y.  G.  B.I.V. for the best colors to use for a logo. That is, first red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and lastly violet.

“I wasn’t sure we should be using those first few colors, since we’re not McDonald’s or Burger King; I wanted it to look more homey. I was also trying to show they have just about everything under one roof (furniture, kitchen, clothing, etc.). My client’s only wish was to keep the cross as part of the logo.”

Hi Jayne,
1) There is no such thing as a “best” color for a logo.
2) “Homey” requires warm colors, not the ones you’re using.
3) “Everything under one roof” is too much stuff for a logo. A logo should be a simple mark that’s memorable. Everything else is marketing.

Before you get too far down this road, however, the question to ask is, does this store need a logo at all? I suggest that it does not; instead, just present its name clearly and attractively. People usually shop thrift stores out of necessity; finding a modest, expressive typeface that dignifies the store and its customers will be an artistic challenge and a kindness.

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140 Responses to The best colors for a logo?

  1. That design professor must have had a double major in science. “ROY G BIV” is the acronym to help remember the order of the colors in the rainbow.

  2. “A logo should be a simple mark that’s memorable. Everything else is marketing.”

    What a concise explanation! I admire how you cover complex issues in a few words.

  3. Perhaps you can combine the cross with the letter ‘t’ to simplify and have one less element. I would also strongly suggest getting rid of the roof and cutting this down to two, maybe three, colors at the most.

    • Jayne says:

      The client’s original “logo” was just the words “Restored” and “Blessings” in black with a green ‘T’ in the word Restored. I guess I was trying to come up with something other than the typed logo. Perhaps I should have left well enough alone.

      Although I agree with a limited number of colors from a printing aspect, the professor said that because of computers being used for brochures, etc., these days, and also for high-res printers, there are no longer such tight restrictions.

      I am not excusing myself here or putting the blame on anyone else, just commenting.

      • David Zure says:

        If you quest for a Certificate, you just do what the professor wants.

        But if you want to find the right way on this road, try to follow your mind (with folio of real professional).

  4. John Driscoll says:

    If it’s a store, the word “store” should probably be the focal point — or “Christian retail store.”

    At first glance, I have no idea what “blessings” is, and that’s the focal point.

    I don’t think anyone would get that the roof graphic means “under one roof,” so I would delete it. The simpler, the better for a logo.

    • Jayne says:

      I like the idea of making “Christian Resale Shop” the main focal point with a suggestion of “Restored Blessings” added in a less-primary way. It may be clearer to people passing by. It is sometimes being referred to as “Restore,” which is confusing, since there is another store by that name in town.

      Although the client, of course, loves their name, it is a bit difficult to show “blessings.” I worked on sketches of little houses, furniture, or little items that may be purchased at this thrift store, but they all seemed trite, unprofessional, or cartoonish. The client was too busy to really discuss what they wanted. This made it difficult. Although they have no training in formal art, they did say they just wanted it cheap, which I was. Maybe they will get what they wanted in that sense, but although I did it for free, I still would like to give them a quality logo that works for their needs and ultimately brings them more customers who buy.

      • John McWade says:

        Be careful of this one, Jayne. It’s not a logo’s job to bring in more customers. I can’t think of a single logo that’s able to do this. A thriving business is the result of good management and marketing, quality merchandise, good customer service, and so on. Your logo or mark is the memorable identifier.

        • Keith says:

          John, I have been an ardent follower of yours for many, many years and have great respect for your artistry and points of view.

          I do not agree, however, with your statement that “it’s not a logo’s job to bring in more customers.” I would at least amend it to say “while it’s not an absolute requirement for a logo to bring in more customers, it should always be a job that it attempts.”

          I would say the NBC peacock logo was an attempt to bring in more customers, by offering shows with “all the colors of a peacock” during the black-and-white TV days.

          Playboy’s logo offered a more rabbit-like existence, if you will, during the ending cycle of a rather staid national lifestyle. The logo offered a promise that surely affected mindsets and sold magazines to new customers.

          United Way’s logo says “We offer a helping hand to bring people a better life.” That visual premise is part of their sales funnel.

          It’s true that Coca-Cola’s logo doesn’t do that sort of job, and many others don’t.

          But there surely are many examples of logos that worked hard to bring in more customers by visually emphasizing a core benefit of the product or service.

          And a logo designer should always try his or her hardest to compel a brand benefit/mindset in the logo that pushes a prospect’s brain along the sales process. If that falls short, they can still have a nice logo, but one should always aim toward furthering sales by suggesting a benefit and at least reach for the stars, no?

          You are correct in saying that a thriving business needs many more things than just a logo…but a logo alone can help bring in more customers for a first-time trial and reinforce the intelligence/coolness/etc. of being a customer for many years to come.

          • David Zure says:

            Sorry sir, but I think that all of your sample logos grew large because of huge promotional budgets. Can’t grow with mini-budgets. The real basic reason.

  5. Melissa says:

    Can’t wait to see what Professor McWade comes up for this one!

  6. Kirsty says:

    Here in the UK, we have “charity shops,” which I guess are similar to thrift stores. Some are very basic, but others, such as those run by large national charities, have all the branding of those charities. It makes them look more professional. (The fact that the stock is well organised helps, too. :-) ) You feel you’re in a real shop, not just a glorified jumble sale.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think a logo does any harm. In fact, it might help to “dignify the store,” because for Joe Bloggs, logo=professional.

    Just a thought.

    P.S. I love going to charity shops — even though it’s not out of necessity!

    • Jayne says:

      I like that Kristy. CHARITY shops! Thanks for commenting all the way from the UK!

      Right now it is basically a glorified jumble yard sale held in a building. I would like to help them become a dignified, professional and well-respected store. Guess where I’ll be doing more volunteer work!

  7. Shawn-Noel says:

    I disagree with the author regarding the need for a logo and the suggested design direction. I do think thrift shops need logos and branding in today’s economic world. There are so many thrift shops in my town it is amazing. Goodwill (great branding with its logo, too) has over 13 branches, and we are just under a million people! Shopping thrift has crossed traditional target markets. It is a growing industry, because people have to find ways to save money.

    I do agree that different colors for this logo would remove the youthful aspect of the current design. If this was a thrift shop for children’s merchandise it could work. Yet, the logo’s design structure communicates a church building and thus the mission of a thrift shop by a church group. Not a bad branding idea when fundraising or asking for donations.

    • Jayne says:

      While attempting to make the logo colorful and not stale (or dead-looking) like some thrift shops may be, it ended up looking “LOUD” or “elementary.” Ugh! As John pointed out, if the attempt was to look “homey,” warm colors would have been better. Perhaps the attempt should not be a “homey” look at all? What do you think?

  8. Shane Wilson says:

    I disagree. This logo is just fine given the project constraints. The colors complement each other, and because this is not just any thrift store, I find the cross to be appropriate. The roof could be scratched, but it serves as a good element for balance and also draws your eye up, reinforcing the cross. This logo would look nice on a business card, flyer or website.

    • Elliot Nartey says:

      I’m not sure that this logo is just fine. It’s too weak for an entity that wants to sell anything; in fact, with its five colours, cross and oversized roof, it reminds me of a Sunday school more than a business that wants my dollars. A thrift shop is still a shop, not a charity.

      • Jayne says:

        Good point. The logo should not look Sunday-schoolish (unless it is for a Sunday school, maybe. :-) You are right, Elliot. It is overdone. Just too much of everything. I know John has a sign over his desk area that says it all: SIMPLIFY.

        On another note, this shop gives free items to those really in need when the church sends them in, or when the Sheriff’s Department has men and women trying to make a fresh start after being in jail or prison.

    • Jayne says:

      Thanks, Shane. This was a class assignment for a real client. As John pointed out to me, if the cross was something wanted by the client, then why is its color yellow, which makes it almost disappear. Excellent point!

      As in all of John’s writing, he points out what is so obvious to him yet always does it so tactfully . . . and makes everything seem so simple.

  9. Mike Barlow says:

    May I ask, first of all, what is the name of the store? Is it “Restored Blessings” or “Blessings Restored” or “Blessings Christian Resale Store, Restored”?

    I ask because it is unclear, and that’s my point.

    • Jayne says:

      The name is Restored Blessings. We also have a store in town called Restore, which sells distressed furniture. The colors for Restore’s logo are green and blue. Christian Resale Shop is more of a tagline, which could definitely be excluded from the logo.

      • Mark D says:

        Your mention of “tagline” made me think, what about using a shape of a big price tag (rectangle with angled corners on one side) to frame the text and convey the message that it’s a store? The roof (to me) suggests it could be a shelter, or it could be a roofing company.

        • Jayne says:

          I can visualize your picture, Mark. I didn’t think about a roofing company. I work in a vacuum of sorts (on my own), and that certainly has its shortcomings. Though John has helped me a lot through Before & After magazine. Still, it is not always so easy to put into practice the things I have learned. :-)

  10. This article posed a question for me I guess: What criteria determine the “need” for a logo? For a business, store, company, band, etc., I have always thought it was a matter of branding, but your comments seem to indicate otherwise . . .

  11. Amy says:

    I am not a graphic designer by trade, but I follow this blog/website/email list and love the tips I get. So, my “non-designer” eye has this to say: The logo looks too much like a Nativity Scene. The cross immediately said “Star of Bethlehem” and the roof “manger.” That evokes Christmas, but it doesn’t say “Resale Shop” to me. I don’t think that’s what you were going for. I agree that maybe it doesn’t need a logo. I also think there are different cross styles you could pick from that would satisfy the client wanting a cross in the mix. Some denominations have a particular cross as their symbol.

    • Brenda Tapley says:

      Amy, I am a designer, and I completely agree with you — it immediately brings to mind a nativity scene. Ditch the roof. And I liked an earlier suggestion to make the T the cross.

      • Jayne says:

        The roof came about because the client kind of liked a rough scratch line used in a sketch. I added a node or anchor for variety, but you are right. Now that it has been pointed out, it may remind too many of a nativity scene.

    • Jayne says:

      Amy, interesting! I never saw it as a nativity or stable roof, but now that you mention it . . .

      I guess that’s why teamwork is so important! As Aldus Huxley said, “The more you know, the more you see.” Yes, this particular cross matched with the color yellow does look like the star in Bethlehem might have appeared. I never saw it that way before.

      The church does have a denominational cross logo, in three different shades of violet. They of course have tight graphics standards to be followed in its use. I guess that is why I avoided it, but your comment reminds me that it should not be ruled out.

    • Gayle says:

      I also saw a nativity scene, one in colors that for me scream 1980s. I saw a church, not a resale store. There is far too much going on here. The moment my eyes were off it, it was a blur to me in my mind.

      While we have the technology to print numerous colors, our minds still process simple and direct messaging best. The world’s most recognized brands have logos that are simple, simple, and did I mention simple? The American Red Cross. Nike. Coke. Pepsi. Apple. Google. FedEx. McDonald’s. Car logos are all instantly identifiable and in some cases are little more than a few lines: VW, Mercedes, Chevy, Audi, Honda, Toyota.

      Sorry, this logo is a fail in my book.

  12. Rich says:

    ROY G. BIV is simply an acronym for remembering the colors of the rainbow. Those are the primary colors, secondary colors, and indigo.*

    The order of the colors in ROY G. BIV comes from their wavelengths, the way they occur in nature when light is split. It’s not any kind of design priority order.

    If you want some perspective on how to make a color scheme come together, look at Before & After’s color wheel article (0646). You can also download their color wheel here.

    And don’t forget the effect of your background. Will the logo always be on white? You might need to have an alternative version for dark or brightly colored backgrounds, depending on where you’ll use it.

    *(Indigo must have had a lobbyist to make the official rainbow list. Maybe there was a clever marketer for Levi Strauss involved. Really, since a rainbow is a gradual spectrum and not a series of discrete lines, you can find all of the tertiary colors there, if you’re looking for them.)

  13. Tina says:

    Funny, I recently did a logo for a church using just two colors, royal blue and black, which are their colors. I thought it was simple logo, but the client rejected it — didn’t like the color or the beautiful angel I chose. Then I went back and asked the customer — what exactly do you see when you see the logo. I’ve found I will save myself a lot of time and design time by doing that. We artists tend to “over-create” for clients who are leery of our colorful daring.

    • Jayne says:

      Yes, you said it, Tina. Unfortunately, I usually do “over-create” artwork in all aspects. I haven’t learned how much simpler my life could be by keeping it simple. My goal as a graphic designer would be to save myself time and learn to create effective artwork for clients.

      Often I have found when I ask someone what they want, they say, “I don’t know what I want.” I guess that is where it would be great to be part of a giant design firm that can educate them on what they need to accomplish their goals.

      I believe John says something like after a briefing where you find out what the client wants, go design that, and not something else. I’ll allow him to comment if he sees fit.

  14. Lindro says:

    There is psychology to color. Jayne is smarter than her professor, because red, yellow and orange are colors that stimulate not only hunger, but fast eating. Art schools used to have “psychology of color” and/or “psychology of design” courses. I’m wondering if this is still true. Here is a guide I like.

    My own rule for logos is that they should look good in black as well as color, and colors should be no more than three (preferably two). If you look at many established logos, they adhere to this “rule.”

    • Rich says:

      We don’t have to stick to a seven-color palette here. Warm tones don’t necessarily mean McDonald’s colors. You can move into warm colors with earth tones. Perhaps a soft brown, leaning toward the orange end of the scale. And something like that would pair nicely with a complementary blue.

      • Teresa says:

        The logo has too many elements, which is then emphasized by the use of too many colors. As Steve commented, it is very noisy.

        • Jayne says:

          Yes. I have learned Teresa, that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn. Maybe this has something to do with the last S in the acronym KISS?

      • Jayne says:

        Yes, I did not think of using browns until Mr. McWade mentioned the warm tones. Although I was taught long, long ago that brown tends to be a dead color, you have helped me, Rich, by helping to think of browns as earth tones. The soft browns, leaning towards the oranges, sounds so comforting. And the complementary blue sounds beautiful! :-)

  15. Steve Teare says:

    Logos are overrated but still a great way to sell something to clients who are anxious about their business looking “professional.” People think a logo is the “brand.” This is not true. A brand is a combination of many things. In the end, it is “audience perception.”

    This logo design is visually noisy. Noise detracts from a message not reinforcing it. This isn’t about what is aesthetic as much as what communicates the right feeling.

    Our world is over-communicated, and it now takes too much money (millions) to create a memorable brand. A simple, conservative text (typographic) solution as recommended is best. It would be better to spend time on naming strategy. Choose something that works for the low-resolution web, too.

    • Jayne says:

      I have to take another look at my Before & After DVD resources and study them some more. I have yet to clearly distinguish the difference between a logo and “audience perception.”

      You sound like a designer or a professor yourself, so please correct my thinking on this: In terms of “branding” cattle, you might have the logo on the sign above your ranch, but you wouldn’t use that entire logo to identify your cattle as your own. Instead you might use a letter or a symbol to say, “This is my cow. This is what I am about. My herd belongs together on this ranch.”

      Yes, there is too much discord in this logo that detracts from the intended message. It does not give a positive sense of harmony. It does not say all the parts belong to the same “ranch.” :)

  16. tari says:

    I agree with Amy on the “manger” look, with the stroke for a roof and the type of star. And I agree with others that it’s cramped and looks like it’s trying to fit into the roofline.

    Assuming this is the chosen business name and can’t be changed, I would simply remove the roof and star and give the “Restored” and the tagline room to breathe, moving them away from the cursive a bit. If you’re really in love with the stroke (I would make it thinner), try putting it at the bottom, to give it a foundation.

    • Jayne says:

      Great comments. If it is to be used, a thinner stroke at the bottom giving a foundation is a wonderful suggestion, Tina.

      Since the name “Restore” is already taken by a second-hand shop in town, I tried to steer away from any focus on the word “Restored,” but since this is the name chosen for the business, it is not mine to change. The logo should say Restored Blessings, not Blessings with the afterthought Restored, which is confusing and makes it look like it says Blessings Restored.

  17. Ron says:

    If this is an assignment, it’s kind of irrelevant whether the place needs a logo or not — the professor needs the place to need a logo.

    I think the logo as shown is easy enough to read as “Restored Blessings,” but “Restored” could use a bit of exploration in color, size and font to relate better with “Blessings.”

    I agree that if they want warmth, use warm colors. And forget ROY G BIV. Remember KISS.

    Good luck.

    • Jayne says:

      Yes, the professor (and I) needed some place to need a logo. ;-)

      The font on Restore appears to have some holes, as someone pointed out. I guess I was aiming for some kind of “recycle” theme. Unfortunately, this sent the opposite message and does not send the message of being fully restored.

      Yes, you summed it all up Ron. KISS. Big time!

  18. Tim Brown says:

    A logo can build trust for a non-profit. I suggest the audience is not just shoppers, but donors as well. However, keep it simple and humble! Try just two colors; perhaps just a simple type treatment. The cross icon is meaningful, but cliche and ambiguous.

    • Jayne says:

      The store does need to market to donors as well. I guess that is why I worked with a recycled image in the font used on Restored. The colors and the loud roof look more like bragging than showing any humility. I like your suggestions, Tim . . . simple colors, simple type treatment!

      I also thought the required cross in this logo was a bit cliché and ambiguous. I am not saying anything in disrespect to the cross or the meaning behind its use, but it seemed to be an unnecessary element.

      Perhaps others can reply on ways to handle the situation when a client wants a favorite little doohickey or thing-a-ma-bob be used in their logo.

  19. Jennifer Baum says:

    I agree with “a modest, expressive typeface,” and I certainly agree in this case that “less is more,” but I disagree that the store doesn’t need a logo. If you read between the lines, Jayne has already said that her client’s only wish was to keep the cross as part of the logo, so her client has already expressed a desire for a graphic element in addition to the name of the store.

    • Jayne says:

      Yes, the store needs a logo for storefront signage, tract cards, brochures, business cards, etc. Of course, things like shirts and hats will be done in one color if they are embroidered, and in which case a photograph may not always work.

  20. Jesse says:

    Personally I like it.

  21. Jennifer says:

    Another question for assessing a logo is “How does it look when photocopied?” A lot of letterheads and logos either vanish or become unreadable when their colors go grey.

    • Jayne says:

      Your comment reminds me that I should try it in grayscale and make sure any gray is dark enough. Thanks for the reminder, Jennifer.

  22. Yurie says:

    Jayne, I think your logo is fine just as is for this project! :-)

    And like others said, I believe you can use any colors for logos! :-)

    Just thought you might want to limit the colors, since there are too many things going on color-wise and design-wise.

    What about changing the roof, RESTORED, and Christian resale store parts into light-to-mid grey color? I think you will see the yellow cross shinier and purple color of “Blessings” are classier this way :-)

    In fact, I think the purple you chose is very good!

    Keep up your good work! :-D

    Love from Vancouver

    • Jayne says:

      Thanks Yurie from Vancouver. The class assignment was for a simple logo to be used as part of a larger assignment. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the “simple” part.

      P.S.: I like this color of purple, too. :-) In general, that is.

  23. Jessica says:

    I think the only change I would make is to simplify the color scheme. Go with two or three colors. Currently, the roof looks like it was an afterthought and clutters the logo. I do like the yellow, teal and navy/purple scheme, however. Perhaps just changing the roof color will tie the “loose ends” of the logo.

    • Jayne says:

      The logo does look cluttered. As I told John, it just wasn’t working. Now I know more about why. Too busy. Too many colors. Loud colors.

      What I did like about the logo was the typeface for “Blessing.” That is where John told me to start. But I chose a font that looked pretty on the word “Blessings,” when I should have chosen a font that worked well for the store’s logo. This one was thinner than I would have liked, but there was no bold version of it available. The R in this font was more difficult to read. I might have chosen a font that looked great for both “Restored” and “Blessings.”

      I liked the colors of teal and dark violet. Perhaps I should have started with the color of the cross and worked from there.

  24. Beth says:

    I am interested in why the professor suggested those colors. They are the “hunger” colors, which is why you probably associated them with two food places. You will find them in many “food” logos. I agree with McWade that the warmer colors are more comforting. The cool colors you chose are pretty much in the same family of colors so they look united, not clashing. I am okay with the colors you chose, but suggest you think of these two things . . . the fewer colors, the easier it is to replicate on signs, shirts, etc. Also, make sure that it prints well in black/white/grey without adjusting the logo — thus, I think I’d make the cross more like 60% black (medium grey) instead of yellow.

  25. Leesah Matsee says:

    I think it’s very creative and pleasing to the eye! All the thrift stores and goodwill stores where I live have logos and signs. Maybe just play around with a different green and see how they compare. See what your client thinks!

    • Jayne says:

      The logo should be pleasing to look at. It seems it should work together. Since it is a store to help families, it should not look like a family in discord.

      Yes, back to the drawing board with the client. A simple logo may take many, many sketches on my part.

  26. Evelyn Burkett says:

    I’m not a designer. I help manage communications and the web site for my church. The logo might be needed on a business card, stationery or other items the store uses to solicit donations or provide tax receipts to donors. The yellow cross gets lost with the bolder other colors. The un-solid roof says anything but restoration to me. (It’s a roof with holes in it!) I love the word blessings being in script . . . softens things. If you want to stick with this as the starting point, I’d ditch the roof completely, move the cross in place of the “t” in “restored,” and make that cross the same color as the word blessings. You might choose to change the green to something else. I’ll leave that to the real designers. But you’ve just simplified it to two colors, made the cross a part of the logo instead of an afterthought. And actually added a message (the cross being part of restoration).

    • Jayne says:

      What cross? Oh, THERE it is. (Just kidding, Evelyn.)

      You don’t have to be a designer to know what looks good and is pleasing to you. Your input is valuable to me. You seem to have a great eye. You have pointed out things I hadn’t noticed and others hadn’t mentioned.

      I appreciate your comment on the use of the “T” as a cross. (Seems like the vote is still out on that one. ) You do work for your church, so you know the importance and the value of it for many. That’s important.

      BTW, If you work on the church’s website, doesn’t that make you a designer? You know the importance of simplification — and that takes a real designer! :-)

      • Evelyn says:

        Jayne, I admire you for posting your work and your questions . . . I have much to learn, and the feedback to your post has been enlightening. Your grace in accepting comments of all sorts is equally admirable. All the best in this and all future efforts!

  27. JanO says:

    I think Restored Blessings is a clever name for a thrift store.

    I don’t care for the color palette, though. The colors are too many and too cool.

    I agree that the cross looks too much like the Star of Bethlehem, a perception reinforced by the manger-like roofline, as Amy observed. There is the letter “T” in the word “restored;” could a cross somehow be incorporated within that word?

    That being said, the logo is good. It is thoughtfully constructed and not amateur-looking.

    • Jayne says:

      Thanks Jan. It is a clever name if you think about it — blessings used by one owner, given for use by another owner, as a second blessing.

      The colors are cool, and that gives a bit of a stand-offish feeling. Not cool. Instead, I’d like to design “cool stuff” that works well for the client.

  28. Alain says:

    This logo seems incredibly dated to me. I don’t think it will last long. Too much lettering.

    • Jayne says:

      Lots of letters. A title. A tagline. Trendy color scheme. And yes, that makes it dated, Alain. Something I would look back on six months from now and ask, “What was I thinking?”

  29. Elliot Nartey says:

    Simpler will do. Currently you have four colours. There’s nothing thrifty about that. They do need a logo. Balance the roof and the cross, i.e., give them equal weight; but make the typography more prominent than the two graphic elements combined. Aim to use two colors max. Color is subjective, so compose it all in black/grayscale first; if it looks good in black & white, it will look good in almost any other color combination. Thx

    • Jim says:

      You need to be aware of your client’s printing budget. The multiple colors will cost extra. Black plus one color would cost much less.

    • Jayne says:

      I like your detail, Mr. Nartey. “Make the typography more prominent than the two graphic elements combined.” That’s a terrific suggestion. I can really play with that! I’ll try it first in black/grayscale, and then start choosing the colors.

  30. Len Williams says:

    Since a logo can be defined as “a recognizable symbol of identity,” the Christian thrift store should definitely have one. However, the pictured design is too busy and dispersed to give a clean and memorable communication.

    1) There are four colors used in such way as to separate each word section. You should use two colors, at very most three, and put the full name of the store, “Restored Blessings,” in one color for cohesion. It’s currently difficult to determine exactly what the name of the store is.

    2) There are three different typefaces, also causing dispersal and separation of the various elements, when the designer should be going for integration.

    3) The concept of the roof and cross has potential, as it incorporates Christian symbolism, but the whole design needs to be brought together so that it stands as a single unit. Right now it looks ready to fly apart.

    It’s too bad we can’t attach small JPG images as suggestions to this blog. I think it would be an excellent exercise where designers can chip in actual design suggestions rather than just trying to describe the concepts in words.

    • JanO says:

      (I like the idea about being able to attach small JPEGs.)

    • Jayne says:

      Yes, how could one easily recall such a confusing mess? “One color for cohesion” would be much better.

      The small jpgs seem to be an excellent idea, (although I don’t know what that would entail on the side of Before & After magazine.) I like the idea myself. I suppose that could lead to creations being copied without due credit. But we’re only supposed to use others designs and images for inspiration anyway, right? Although pictures may be in our future, words work well for now, and I have appreciated this form of communication on all of Before & After’s “Let’s Talk” topics. I am interested in what other think, including John.

  31. Nelson says:

    This has too many fonts, too many colors, too much activity, and is too much to look at. A simple logo is a strong logo — “Simplicity is Strength.”

  32. Lezley says:

    I LOVE the logo! Without the explanation, it is recognizable as a comfort, under the shelter, and the cross — very spiritual. The offset is great. The only thing I would change is the colouring — it’s coming across as Easter. Two colours would suffice: the yellow cross and the Blessings; blue for all the rest. My un-educated comments — which is why I am subscribed now to Before & After. Looking forward to the final advice.

    • Jayne says:

      Never thought of it as spiritual. You make a valid point, Lezley. It does ring with Easter colors.

  33. nita says:

    My first impression was that the color palette suggests a children’s store. I like the color scheme but feel it’s not a good fit for the product.

    This is a very busy logo: four colors, three font styles, and three font sizes. Ironically, the design element the client wanted to retain, the yellow cross, is lost in that sea of brighter colors and crammed into that little nook between the roof and the typeface. Also, the cross in the corner looks more like a star, which is what I thought it was at first glance.

    I don’t know the actual name of the store, but I read it as Blessings Restored, because Blessings is in a substantially larger font. Then again, Restored has a more substantial “rooted” font, so it looks more important (rather than decorative like Blessings), and the color tends to bring it forward, where the purple of Blessings recedes. So, quite frankly, I have no idea what the name is, and I’m confused.

    Oddly enough, I find the separate components pleasing, but it needs to be reigned in a bit. As others have suggested, use only a couple of colors, perhaps just blue or purple for the text and yellow for the cross, which would be great contrast and allow the cross to stand out, and only two fonts in two sizes, one for the store name and the other for the tagline.

    • Jayne says:

      Maybe that’s because I used to be an elementary school teacher, Nita. :-) Lots of bright, strong colors. And yes, I did “cram” the cross under the roof, and that is never a good thing to do. It needs space to breathe. I think I’ll keep that cross (er, star) for designing at Christmas time. :-)

      This “Let’s Talk” is great. The vote tells me that most customers would look at this logo and say to themselves, “Blessings Restored.” As you say, I do need to reign things in — and learn more about the difference between branding and logo design.

  34. nita says:

    When I read all the responses, Len’s response wasn’t a part of the original mix. Since I posted, his answer was posted, and I see he brought up the same issues I did, and he was much more articulate in his response!

  35. PubliBot says:

    Alain, unfortunately bad logos don’t have age!

    I like the name “Restored Blessings,” and I would try to follow John’s advice. Don’t design a logo, but only use a nice and inspiring lettering. I would try to make the “t” in “Restored” look like a cross (as desired by your client), nothing more, and use warm colors.

    • Jayne says:

      Well that’s true, too, when you say it like that. Some bad logo designs have been around for a long time . . . too long.

      Thanks for your comments. The logo is LOUD, but a number of comments on similar issues speak even LOUDER.

  36. Keith says:

    While this is a design discussion, I’d like to push it into more of a marketing discussion for a moment by thinking outside the box.

    “Christian Resale Store” or “Tom’s Christian Resale Store” is a better name for immediate reader comprehension than is “Restored Blessings,” which could be better as a tag line sign-off. Consider the two optional names as a store sign or billboard, for example. Which communicates faster to attract the desired target market?

    I know that “Christian Resale Store” is a descriptive name, but a “Tom’s” or “Reno’s” sort of prefix helps, if required for a stronger copyright.

    No one is targeting “Christian resale store,” per se, in Google (aggressively or knowingly targeting, in any event). “Christian thrift store,” yes, but “Christian resale store,” no.

    And “” is available as of this writing.

    You’ve got the client-mandated cross image ready for you in the “t” in “Christian,” and certainly a sales tag or whatever to hold “Resale.” The graphic and name provide you with a great logo and a clearer identity all at once. You’ve even got “second coming” sort of possibilities going on with “resale,” which perhaps might influence a tagline or ad campaign.

    So if I were advising on this logo project, I would at least explore the route of clarifying the service rendered and owning search results by re-casting or d/b/a the company’s name as “[X’s] Christian Resale Store.”

    I know there may be budget constraints (such as new stationery), but perhaps that could enlarge the project for additional creative revenue, too.

    And even if the idea is squashed, I think it is a valuable discussion to have with the business owner. It shows that you’re thinking beyond logo shapes and colors to actively try to build his or her business online and offline.

    • Kirsty says:

      You know, I wonder if the word ‘”Christian” is needed. People go to a shop because they want to buy things. “Resale Store” would cover that (with maybe a cross in the logo if they want).

      What makes it Christian? I’m assuming it’s because it’s run by Christians — perhaps to raise money for Christian charities, or just because as Christians they want to be good stewards of the earth’s resources, and help people who are less well off.

      But I think calling it “Christian retail store” could be confusing or off-putting — do they only want me to come if I’m a Christian? Do they only sell specifically “Christian” things?

      • Keith says:

        Hi Kirsty,

        I just thought it was selling religious books, objects, art, etc. Much like a Judaica store sells within a devout (or holiday-mindful) Jewish community.

        So I do think they’re targeting “religious Christians,” if you will, and not the greater community. I thought they do only want Christians who want Christian things (or someone who is buying for said group) to come into their store.

        If I am correct about that, then it seems reasonable to target early and accurately, along the clarity I recommended above.

        If I am incorrect . . . then, as Gilda Radner put it, “never mind.”


      • Jayne says:

        Perhaps in large cities “Christian Resale Store” may be more offensive than it would be here in Winona, MN.

    • Jayne says:

      . . . or even “St. Martin’s Christian Resale?”

      That’s a new thought: Resale = Second Coming. I hadn’t thought about that. We’ll have to consider that thought more.

      Once the store forms an actual committee (coming soon), I may be able to throw out your suggestions to more than just one person.

      No worries about new stationery, Keith. I’ve given them free business cards and a vinyl sign with the above logo. They’ve used all the business cards, and the vinyl sign can easily be tossed. It’s not like it’s been cast in a neon sign. Much better to hear your thoughts now when they are just getting started.

      Hmmmm, wonder if that name is still available as of this writing. Thanks for your post and your insights. I have started to work with your ideas as a logo design already.

      • Keith says:

        You’ve got the idea perfectly, Jayne. With a prefix like “St. Marten’s” and whether or not you keep “store,” you will have an ownable name that also communicates the business proposition instantly to its prospective customers. A much stronger approach, in my view, than the current naming/logo approach for the business.

        What I do for clients in this sort of instance is buy up an available URL through GoDaddy when I think of it. The cost is minimal, and transferring URL ownership rights later is around $7-$11.

        So you’re out a few bucks if they don’t go with your idea . . . or you absorb/bury/add it to your final bill . . . and you’re an absolute hero for having the foresight to buy up the URL if they do like it. I think that is worth the minimal financial risk on your part up front. With either outcome, you show them that you care and are watching their backs.

        And if your client ultimately wants something other than “,” you may be able to sell it to them anyway, and simply point that URL to your final URL through a 301 redirect, which any decent web-hosting company could help you with.

        Never hope a URL exists later, is my advice. It’s available + you like it = buy it now x right this minute. A good URL is nothing to take lightly for many different marketing reasons.

        Good luck with your project!

  37. I find the Galaxy Gauge Color Map Pro to be helpful when picking colors.

    It shows various combinations including two-, three- and four-color combinations and the emotions elicited with each set of colors.

    The colors are all CMYK for print use.

    • Jayne says:

      Thank you, Mr. Culleton. I am not familiar with the map but will look it up. I used my color wheel and I will look into your resource list, John.

  38. Peg says:

    A logo can serve as an organizing principle and graphic shorthand for the messaging of any store or business, so I don’t agree that it’s dispensable — otherwise, organization volunteers will be tempted to reinvent it every time they print a message or paint a sign, with the resulting graphic chaos. Also, thrift shops are often good training ground for those looking for work in retail, so injecting a little regular business practice into the process, such as setting and sticking to a style, is helpful . . . in my opinion.

    John, can you expand this question a little, because zillions of people need to come up with logos for volunteer enterprises and neighborhood events for which the design budget is zero. Are there one or two overall approaches or styles you might recommend to get most of us safely (and quickly) through the “need-a-logo-yesterday” challenge presented by those places where one might be a volunteer?


    • Jayne says:

      It is great. Parents and grandparents can work off their children’s tuition!

      Yes, volunteers can tend to re-invent as they go along. Not a good thing as far as one consistent logo and message. Thanks Peg. I think that I’ll draw up a simple little chart to keep in front of myself as a reminder: number of fonts, number of elements, number of colors, etc. I wonder, does that = simplify?

  39. Brett says:

    As has been said before, a logo is a memorable mark.

    The difficulty here is, I think, that this logo is neither fish nor fowl. I think the roofline and the cross could be worked into an elegant mark, or it could be remade into a wordmark using, say, Restored Blessings, as the words.

    Another problem is that, as it stands, the design scales very poorly. Jayne does not say how her client will use it. Business card? Letterhead? Scale it down, and the words “Christian Resale Store” in cyan become unreadable very quickly. I actually don’t think those words are needed anyway.

    I don’t think the tertiary colour palette really works. If Jayne wants to stay away from McBurger colours (rightly, IMO), then she could use strong secondary colours. The yellow cross really gets lost.

    From a painter’s POV, I keep in mind three things: 1) that the eye goes to the area of highest contrast first; 2) that dark lines (areas) come forward and pale lines (areas) recede (aerial perspective); and 3) that thick lines come forward and thin lines recede.

    My 2¢. Have fun with the design.


    • Jayne says:

      Ideally the logo itself would be memorable, and hopefully we’ll get there. (Actually, the words “Christian Resale Store” were tacked onto the logo at the request of the person who first put up the money to start the store.)

      I like your painter’s notes. Secondary colors would be another good idea to use to experiment. According to your points, the roof probably stands out, when I would prefer the name to stand out. Point #2 was on our test. How does that work when it comes to looking at the shape of a ball?

  40. Debbie says:

    I am currently working with a visiting priest in Santa Fe, NM, reworking his business card and stationery. Originally, he had every color and every font on his stationery. We took a walk around the San Miguel Church, oldest church in the U.S. . . . the beautiful adobe of the church’s tower against the blow-your-eyes-apart, high-altitude blue skies . . . and the blues were the colors he chose! The Indians who built that church didn’t have color wheels, Kulers or Photoshop, just the natural earth colors. So my advice: Is there a church near your store? Does your store or building have colors that you like and enjoy? This seems like a local-community type of business — so choose something that everyone knows and is familiar with . . . maybe the flowers along the walkway? Etc., etc.

    • Jayne says:

      Well, I used every color and every font too. (Smile.)

      I can picture the color of a traditional adobe under a blue sky. Beautiful. Thanks Debbie.

      The church connected to this is limestone (beige.) Not much in the neighborhood of the store. No flowers. Black paved parking lot. Still, I will think on things familiar. Maybe Century Schoolbook?

  41. k says:

    Enjoyed reading everone’s comments. There are lots of possibilites here. I do agree the logo needs simplification. I would also design in b+w first. Of course, it’s hard to resist adding our two cents, so here’s my stab at it:

    Concept 1: having the cross emerge from a brushwork background similar to the roof, to convey the “softness” Jayne desired. The cross would have a crisp outline. Play with it a couple of shapes such as a square, a house. This element to the right or left of the store name and being of equal height contained in an imaginary rectangle. If the tagline is used, place it under the cross logo, reducing so it fits within the imaginary rectangle.

    Concept 2: a vertical rectangle with a simple graphic cross. Like the Demark flag. In each quadrant goes a simple graphic illustrative of primary items or areas within the resale shop. Name to the left or right, possibly underneath for a vertical layout.

    Concept 3: cross on a styled shopping bag. Could hybrid this idea with above concepts.

    Good luck!

    • Jayne says:

      K, those are all fresh ideas. Definitely worth working on. Thanks! Cookie-cutter criss-cross out of a soft box or house. Grid with quadrants like the flag with store product shapes. Shopping bag, yet still using cross concept. Thanks again.

  42. Fernando says:

    I agree.

    Simple is the way to go.

    The world is too noisy and complex already with too many designers trying to show off their Photoshop skills instead of trying to communicate an idea in the simplest way possible.

    Remember, simple.

    Good luck in school!

    • Jayne says:

      Now there’s a great idea, Fernando! Thanks for the png. It tells me exactly what you are thinking. I see it clearly, and it is simple. Not complex like my design. Thank you.

  43. rhoen says:

    Well, if the client likes it, then so be it. We might just be too technical in some other ways. In my own little way, I would not include the “Christian Resale Store” in there. Leave the “slogan” for marketing. As Marco de Luca mentioned, “A logo should be a simple mark that’s memorable. Everything else is marketing.”

  44. igotcarded says:

    The distressed font used for “Restored” looks like it’s off the side of a crate filled with ammo. The font used for “Blessings” is so curvy by comparison that it seems like some sort of parody logo.

    Then you have the smooth, thick-to-thin lines of “Blessings” fighting against the rough-hewn scratches in the roof. At least one of these elements has to be dialed back to create a more unified look.

  45. Scott says:

    A number of folks have suggested morphing the ‘t’ into the cross. My reaction: tempting but trite. Avoid it.

    • Jayne says:

      Certainly could be considered trite by some. Clever by others. Simple by others. Clipart-like by others.

  46. Tamara Smith says:

    As John suggests, it’s always good to ask yourself if a logo is really needed. In this case, I think it’s helpful. Although I didn’t quite get the intended concept (everything under one roof), it had a good emotional and aesthetic impact on me. The abstract roof line seemed to shelter the beautiful typography and felt homey and protective. I too would definitely change the color scheme, but there are lots of great suggestions here for that already.

  47. mary jane gavenda says:

    The logo is way too busy — too many colors, too many design elements. This is a common mistake for beginning designers, but we all at some time fall into the trap of overdesigning. Simplify. Reduce. What is your main idea? It’s like editing a sentence. A well-crafted sentence does not carry superfluous words — each word is essential to its meaning. Same with design.

  48. Corey says:

    I like the roof and the cross, but the colors lack harmony and pull my eye in all sorts of directions instead of focusing it anywhere.

    Also, the way the name is set confuses me — Restored Blessings or Blessings Restored?

  49. oeilgauche says:

    My two cents :

    1. I would place “Restored” and “Blessings” on the same line, both in the same fonts and all caps. In your treatment, one doesn’t know the precise name of the shop.
    2. You had the right idea for “Christian Resale Store”: smaller size, under the main text, and in a softer color.
    3. I would maybe try to work the cross between Restored and Blessings, but I would choose a simpler design.
    4. Definitely two or three colors max; try Adobe Kuhler or COLOURlovers.

  50. Logo work is not a big part of my job, but when asked to design one, I do remember the Design Talk you did a few years back about the jewelery artist who wanted a logo, and you said, no, it will stand between you and your customers. Use a great product photo instead.

    I’ll be posting a new reminder on my wall that explains this rationale so succinctly: “A logo should be a simple mark that’s memorable. Everything else is marketing.”

    And on the advice from the professor about standard logo colours — very strange.

    • Jayne says:

      Seems to me John once told a photographer not to use a logo on a business card when a photograph said so much more about their work. Hmm, who was that?

      Yes, Susan, I too thought that was a blanket statement by the prof. Absolutes like that often seem strange in the world of art and design.

  51. Dear John:

    I love Before & After! Your answer to Jayne about the Restored Blessings logo is spot-on. I would add that despite the prevalence of color copy options, all logos must look good in black & white, especially those of non-profits.

    When I first began reading B&A about 17 years ago, I worked for a non-profit group that had an ad agency donate a logo. The logo was a beautiful, detailed, full-color piece that did not shrink well and was costly to print in full color. The black & white version was compromised at best.

    The yellow cross on Jayne’s logo, which she describes as the client’s most-wanted element, will not show up well on most copiers, even color ones. I would also recommend that Jayne ask her clients what they plan to do with the logo, e.g., signs, flyers, website, Facebook, since that should play into its design.

    Keep up the great work! I don’t always comment, but I do always read your messages.

    To Jayne: What a great charity. They are lucky to have you helping them.


    • Jayne says:

      Maybe that’s why businesses should avoid donated logo designs. You make great comments about things like color copiers.

      Thanks for always reading, Steph.

  52. Phil says:

    Yes again an interesting discussion: Unless I missed it, no one said anything about alignment (à la Robin Williams the designer). That to me is a serious issue. The eye is confused as to where to go (and what to remember semi-consciously), and the colors then work against the misalignments. But the alignment problem is too complex for an easy fix, I think. (If I missed someone else’s comment on this, well, pardon and flattery.)

    Second, red is always a dominant color that at least magazines always use (à la Roger Black’s admonition). I would keep it somewhere. Other than that, most folks got it right. Don’ be too rigid, but do study the color wheels for complements and psychological underpinnings.

    Finally, be careful not to fall into the abstract language trap of assuming that all “Christians” are the same (even those who get along). I instantly thought of a store with 14th- to 17th-century books or older books (C.S. Lewis, maybe Cotten Mather’s sermons, etc.), and of course would probably be disappointed with your store then. What are the sub-genres in the religious or spiritual philosophies of the books? That might raise clearer and more-direct metaphors than just a cross (and what kind of cross: Greek/ Roman?) and a thatched roof (say a cathedral roof).

    I am just pointing out other possibilities before you KISS your design as done.

    • Jayne says:

      Proud to say that Robin Williams was one of my instructors (many moons ago). Not so proud to say I apparently didn’t learn too well. Maybe I should KISS my future as a designer goodbye?

      Perhaps the concepts of triangle shapes and making your eye flow from one element to the next should be left to portraits of the family.

      Red is a warm color. So you may be right on here.

      And I do tend to be rigid at times. Have to work on that. At least when it comes to things like “psychological use of colors.”

  53. Kathy Julian says:

    My opinion is that keeping it simple is number one. I’d use one colour, black, and the client can change the colour of the logo to suit their needs. I’m guessing they won’t have money to pay for full-colour printing. If the client likes a cross, find an elegant cross that is different from the rest so it stands out from other churches, and use a simple font for the whole name. The church’s logo should show peace and serenity. Perhaps bold the word “Christian.” The logo won’t make people buy at the store, but perhaps they will remember the cross and the word Christian printed on the bag and come back again.

    My only criticism is that the roof could be mistaken for a building company or an eyebrow. In conjunction with the word RESTORED, you could also think this may be a renovation company.

    I hope this may help.

    • Jayne says:

      Well, there’s another concept I didn’t consider. It could be an eyebrow.

      I hope others have learned as much from this “Let’s Talk” discussion as I have.

  54. Brenda Cooke says:

    My first thought upon seeing this was of a Christmas card — but done in the wrong colors for a Christmas card. I would leave the roof out, and yes! use the cross as a “t.” I would try one color for text, except maybe the t in a different color. And move the Restored; it reads now more like Blessings Restored, rather than Restored Blessings.

  55. Ed S. says:

    I agree with a lot of what is said here. I like the idea of creating a logo for a thrift shop. It helps lend a bit of professionalism to the store, whether they are going to use it on their signage or price tags or employee shirts or bags. I was taught back in school that a logo design had to keep in mind its many uses — it had to hold up if it was going to be printed on a business card/stationery or on the side of a delivery truck.

    I have always been taught, also, to use the “K.I.S.S.” formula . . . errr, “keep it simple, stupid,” That would probably be something I’d have to say about the logo — it needs some rhyme and reason to it, something to hold it together. Simplify the fonts and/or colors, or maybe work off of a basic shape and insert your wording in and around it. Some logos have different versions — one color for fax, etc., and two or three colors for other things.

    Another thought I had was that you could use the cross as the center of one of the “o”s.

    • Jayne says:

      I have learned more in this online “Let’s Talk” discussion than will be used for just this logo. Many of these comments, suggestions, and pieces of advice apply to all kinds of design. Whether amateur or professional, the comments shared here have all been worthwhile.

  56. Ed S. says:

    Me, again. I was thinking about this on my drive home from work . . . I had to rush to get those earlier comments in.

    Yes, I too love the name of the store, and, yes, I also am reminded of a manger with the roof and the cross. Also, the off-center roof kinda reminds me of American Family Insurance’s logo, although I think yours was done just with one of the brushes in Photoshop.

    I don’t know if I got it across in my comments earlier, but the logo just looks like a bunch of pieces; it doesn’t look like it is a whole logo. Again, maybe speaking of the “rhyme and reason” I mentioned earlier, there’s no real overall impact to it. (And, actually, at smaller sizes I think the yellow cross and the light blue smaller type will be lost when this logo is used small.)

    While driving, I was thinking about how anymore I don’t really think in terms of individual colors, but rather color combinations or “themes” to use (and what color combinations have worked well in the past to convey certain feelings), which kinda blows the lid off of what your design professor said.

    My first inclination with it being a resale shop was brown-black-gold — more “antique”– but then I was also thinking that more of a “fashionable” and maybe “retro” feel might be had by using purple-gold-black, or cyan-red-black.

    Also, I was thinking that if you worked more with negative space or light type/cross on dark shapes/outlines/shadows, it may make a more high-impact logo, and one that will stand out at even smaller sizes.

    (Reminder: It is best to create logos as vector, scaleable, art, as in Illustrator, rather than pixel art as in Photoshop.)

    (Sorry, probably way more feedback than you wanted.) I am a BIG fan of resale and thrift stores. It’s partially my upbringing with a dad who lived through the Great Depression. I love finding things I can use, or fix-up and use, and still am using many things to this day that were purchased at resale shops.

    • Jayne says:

      I wouldn’t have thought of the American Family Insurance logo without your help, Ed.

      Until you put it in your own words, I never really thought about the value of staying with just one color theme or combination. I never thought about all those “antique” combinations. I had only thought of black and gold, and wasn’t sure how to create a true gold color, not just the color of a sunflower. Maybe someone will reply and save me from taxing John’s brain again.

      My parents also grew up during and following the depression, so I know the value of finding a second use for things, not just tossing them in the trash.

  57. Ed S. says:

    Kudos to you, Jayne.

    Hmm . . . sunflower color versus gold . . . I guess they are the same color . . . it’s just how they are used. On a white background might be sunflower but next to a darker color like black, dark purple or dark blue . . . “gold.”. :-)

  58. David Kunkel says:

    I’m focusing on the roofline, the cross under it, and the multiple typefaces as the elements most in need of development.

    The roofline suggests “manger,” as many have noted, but also “residence,” since businesses don’t usually have peaked roofs. Then the cross is under the roof, which is disconcerting to those who expect a cross to be on or above the roof of a Christian building. Finally, I liked Fernando’s design but thought it was oversimplified, plus using the cross as the “T” is disconcerting to many.

    I liked the current colors, as I found the teal, mauve and goldenrod soothing and suggesting empathy and calm.

    I liked the wordplay in “Restored” and decided to double down by creating the tagline “Christian Values” to clarify that it’s not a store selling Christian items while re-emphasizing the thrift store angle. I touched the tail of the “R” to the tall stroke of the “L” to reinforce the concept of empathy and the spirit of giving or supporting. I thought it looked like they were holding hands.

    Finally, how about using the cross as the roof? Here’s my take:

  59. Joy Hunter says:

    A thrift shop in our Diocese has a nice clean logo. I share it here.

  60. Gino Jacques says:

    When it comes to logo design, you have to first put into consideration what type of business or organization you are working for, what type of message they are trying to put out, and what effect you are trying to put out to the potential clients as well. The logo should be simple, effective, and memorable; at least one thing of the logo should stand out; and it should be easy to reproduce on any form of media or merchandise without losing its touch and features. Colors should be based on the effect you are trying to portray; since “homey” are more earthy colors, therefore soft colors should be used.

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