Is it ever okay to deviate from your core logo and colours?

Consistency is key when it comes to your logo and elements that make up your corporate identity. Policing your brand and its elements is a full time job and a really helpful graphic designer will provide Brand Guidelines for business owners to follow. But are there instances when its acceptable to deviate from these controlled constraints? Maybe. In this article we look at when it’s acceptable to break the rules.

Reversing out your colour palette

In an ideal world your logo and business identity would sit seamlessly on all backgrounds and be manifested perfectly across all mediums in its ‘primary’ colour palette. The reality is that as a business owner you will require a library of options available at your disposal when it comes to allowing your brand to sing across all hymn sheets.

Making sure that your logo colours can be ‘reversed’ out easily and works in a monotone application is the most basic solution to this issue. This gives you the flexibility for applying it to a variety of materials. The trick is to keep things such as sizing, positioning and use of other elements consistent. This is key to maintaining a coherent brand even when its core colours are reversed or absent.

To install flexibility into every logo I produce, I always start work in black and white to ensure a design can be ‘stripped back’ if necessary. A client brief which includes possible brand manifestations is always a bonus!

A great example of a brand stripping back its identity is Regal Kitchens, who have their ‘primary’ blue palette, a reversed white offering and lastly a monotone option to choose from.



Sub Brands

Sub brands are a powerful tool to access a broader range of potential customers. Unifying factors within sub brands can include messaging, colour palettes, typography and imagery. As a result these elements provide a positive connection to the ‘parent’ identity. Specific colours and imagery are often present connecting to specific audiences. Policing the application of sub brands is just as vital as the parent brand. 

As an example, below you can see the three sub brands of the Rockbridge Group. Each company utilising specific colours for each sector, but retaining the same emblem and typeface.



Special Anniversary Motifs

Whether you have been in business for 10 years or 100 years, reaching a milestone in your company’s existence is cause for celebration. This celebration can expand to your customers with an anniversary motif. Generally these will follow your core logo and colour palette closely for instant recognition. The amount of fanfare you add will depend on your brand’s style. Remember we are looking for connections to that core logo still.

Below are a few examples of anniversary motifs including DSD’s very own 10 year emblem.



Themed Social Media Specials

Running a business, be it on your own or with a team of people behind you, is tough. Whatever your field, it’s important to enjoy your work and to have fun… serious fun! This belief is at the heart of everything I create here at DSD. Consequently this idea of having fun has inspired a series of ‘themed’ DSD logos for use on social media. These artworks celebrate or mark occasions and events each month. Presented for a single day or weekend at a time, they provide interest and impact without confusion. As a designer they are a great way to explore the flexibility of a logos design. For the viewer the hope is that they provide inspiration and the ‘me too’ effect.

The examples below (left to right) signified the 50th Anniversary of the Lunar Landing in July, Inventors Month in August and the 19th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks in Manhattan.


What will the next theme be? You’ll have to keep following DSD on social media to find out!


To summarise, there are certainly occasions when you can expand on your core logo’s appearance. However, you do have to be mindful of your audience and always keep an eye on the perception of your brand from the outside looking in. If in doubt seek the advice of an experienced graphic design professional in Essex who can advise on the direction to take. If you do have any questions on the topics covered in this blog then please leave me a comment below and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible.

Dan Summers

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1 Comment

  1. David Kightley on 27th September 2019 at 10:57 am

    It’s great to have a really helpful and innovative graphic designer based here in Chelmsford, the county town of Essex. Illuminating stuff showcasing professional graphic design at its best – so many people think they can do it themselves!

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