Connect the Dots from Apple’s Rainbow Logo and iOS 7’s Color Scheme

| Editorial

Much has been made of the color palette in Apple's new iOS 7. It's been called girly in a misogynist rant, ugly, beautiful, striking, and designed with Asia in mind. Some pieces have even covered most of the full gamut in one go. Reddit user Matt-Irwin, however, has done some thinking and sleuthing on the topic, and we like his thoughts.

He posted this image:

iOS 7 Inspiration

Holy smokes, but he might be on to something. Not all of the colors are a perfect match (the two greens stand out), and you have to cherry pick where in the gradient you want to match for the red, purple, and blue, but he's got a great point.

It seems fitting that Apple step into the future by borrowing from its past, too. We don't know whether or not that is what has actually happened here, but we want it to be true.

Nice work, Matt!

On the Reddit thread, many people poke fun of the idea by pointing out that Apple's logo has the same colors as the rainbow. To wit:

Rainbow? Please...

It doesn't take too much effort to see that Apple's old logo doesn't use the same shades as most simplistic rainbow representations. This is one of those situations where subtleties are relevant.

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Eolake Stobblehouse

Sure, but on the other hand if you want to use many different colours, so as to differentiate the icons clearly, and you don’t have any qualms about colours clashing, then basically you end up using “all the colours of the rainbow”. And as you say in your headline, the original Apple logo was indeed a rainbow coloured logo, so…


It’s a fun observation if nothing else. smile

Apple has used the old logo colors in new world products with the rainbow iMac’s - though they didn’t use yellow, presumably because they didn’t want a Lemon iMac.


It’s just the six Primary and Secondary colors. Apple would be hard pressed to make anything without them, so what’s the fuss?

Bryan Chaffin

The pure primary colors are not in Apple’s logo, nor are the pure secondary colors. It’s all about the shades. The red is 223, 58, 62 (RGB) rather than 255, 0, 0. The blue is 0, 157, 220 (rather than 0,0, 255).  The green is 98, 187, 71…etc. Pure yellow is nowhere to be seen.

They don’t match the pure colors in CMYK, and they don’t match the “psychological primaries” discussed in the Wikipedia entry on primary colors.

The specific shades represented in Apple’s old logo have been tapped in the representative icons. As I noted in the piece, you have to cherry pick the point in the gradient, but even there the gradients are variations on the shades in Apple’s logo, not variations of the pure primary and secondary colors.

I’ll point that another hole in the idea is that there are plenty of Apple icons not shown in the image. There’s some cherry picking going on here, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these specific shades have been tapped where they were tapped.

Deancourt Design

Like most things connected with Apple, the logo isn’t a technical issue, but an emotional one.

Jean-Louis Gassée, former Apple exec was quoted as saying, “The deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn’t dream a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope and anarchy.”

That to me sums up the Apple of today, lust, knowledge & hope, but the anarchy is gone.


Red is 255, 0, 0, or you’d need an extra bit to store it…

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for catching that, dwallin. I corrected both colors in my post to 255. smile

Boyd Petersen

As a long time and huge Apple fan I am just so disappointed in the direction they took the color scheme and particularly the icons. Just a big step back. Take reminders icon. It stood out before and now just blends in with the other icons and is tougher to find. Each icon had a distinct identity-not there just plain.

Don’t get me started on the new notes app which is about as plain as can be. Used to be a nice yellow notepad now it’s just a big white space.

Just not happy with where there taking it. The skeuomorphism was much better.


This is a historic logo. I would say no one would be able to such logo in this century. This is amazing


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