It’s Not Just Black and White: What to Know About Design’s Latest Trend

TT What's Hot Article Image Its Not Black and White 5.24

No, it’s not just you – there are an awful lot of black-and-white designs in the branding world

right now. Even as some sectors, like interior design, are starting to swing away from hyper- neutral designs and palettes, the graphic design world seems to be leaning even more into this sleek minimalism. Should your brand be going grayscale, or should you lean into color to buck the trend? It all depends on what you want your branding to convey.


Why Designers Choose Black and White

The decision to create a black-and-white logo or overall branding is rooted in a confident kind of minimalism. The message is that there are no bells and whistles here, only excellent quality and meaningful work.

“To consumers, black and white branding can say, ‘this is an established company’— it’s kind of a power move to shift into an all black and white space, or even to start with one,” Isa Segalovich, a graphic designer, multimedia artist, and writer told Print magazine. “Smaller brands often rely on colors to distinguish themselves from the noise; once you have an enormous corporation, you can shed those colors and say, ‘We don’t need these anymore to stand out. Everyone knows what an apple with a bite taken out of it means.’”[1]

There’s also the inherent psychology of color. Adobe reveals that “black logos tend to be characterized as authoritative, sophisticated, classic, luxurious, and, depending on the design, minimalist,” while “white famously symbolizes purity, integrity, innocence, and simplicity. It’s

clean, fresh, unadulterated, and neutral and conveys calm and comfort. The approach is also leveraged when a company is trying to simplify complex ideas.”[2]

Black and white (or general grayscale) can take the focus off the branding itself, allowing it to almost blend into the background. This can convey a sense that the product or service is what matters most.


Differentiation in a World of Gray

How can brands differentiate themselves if so many logos and branding palettes embrace minimalistic neutrals? Color palettes drive some of the most memorable brands in the eyes of the public – think ‘Tiffany blue,’ the ‘big brown trucks’ of UPS, McDonald’s ‘golden arches,’ or the emerald-green Starbucks mermaid. Using those colors instantly evokes their associated brands.

If they decide to take color off the table, brand designers must find other ways to set themselves apart. Grayscale logos and designs run the risk of looking flat or unmemorable, so graphic designers might explore other elements to provide interest, for example:

  • Textures
  • Shadows
  • Patterns
  • Shapes
  • Typography/font
  • Negative space

Consider also how these different elements may appear in your broader branding strategy. Your approach goes beyond just a simple logo; it also involves your website design, what your emails look like, what designs (and materials and techniques) you use on physical, direct mail pieces, and so on. Each element can reflect something about your brand’s personality, mood, or goals, with or without bold colors.


Going Against the Trend

As with any trend, some go against the grain. Black-and-white branding tends to portray a vibe of minimalism, cutting-edge technology, and sleek stylishness. While that might be desirable for some brands and industries, others are looking to appeal to customers in a warmer, more vibrant way.

In particular, brands that want to convey a sense of approachability, joy, or freshness lean more toward color than the grayscale trend. Bright colors and a pop-art style can make your brand stand out from the wash of black-and-white competition. A grayscale palette, especially in the wrong hands or the wrong industry, can evolve past ‘sleek and stylish’ to become ‘cold and unapproachable.’ In contrast, people like to see bright colors that bring a sense of fun and playfulness, which, in turn, can help increase positive customer sentiment or even trust and loyalty. If you want to strike a balance, consider pairing a bright or busy color palette with sleek minimalism in other elements, like the shapes, lines, and fonts used.

There’s no right answer as to whether your brand should lean into the black-and-white branding trend or the bright-and-playful counter-trend. Ultimately, it comes down to the tone and message you want people to associate with your brand. A creative brand sticks in customers’ memories for a long time – make sure yours is one of them!


[1] Gordon, Chloe. “Are We Losing Color? All Logos Are Starting To Look The Same.” Print, 24 August 2023,

[2] “How to make a distinctive, powerful black-and-white logo.” Adobe Express,