Could YELLOW be your brand colour?
What does the colour Yellow mean – and is this relevant for your brand positioning and branding?
Choosing your brand colours is one of the vital steps in creating the foundations and framework for your distinctive brand. Because the eye sees colour first – before shapes or words – your choice of brand colours helps express your brand personality and contributes to visual impact, standout and brand recognition. In fact, a University of Loyola study indicated that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80% – which is why Pantone say that ‘colour is the silent ambassador of your brand.’
This is why I stress the importance of doing the brand strategy work on your brand first.
Brand Strategy Foundation
This foundational work on your brand includes:
- Your brand positioning – with laser focus on your target audience and their needs and wants
- Brand value proposition – the reasons why your clients will buy from your brand
- Along with clarifying your brand purpose, values and personality
Once we have these strategic foundations in place, we can do the work on choosing your brand colours with intention and meaning to boost your brand identity, instead of simply choosing the colours you like…
This will mean that your customers will feel the combination of your brand colour palette, logo and typography is authentic and true to your brand.
Now, let’s take a look at how yellow could be suitable as one of your future brand colours…
What could the brand colour Yellow mean?
Yellow is a primary colour, along with red and blue. It makes orange (when combined with red) and makes green (when combined with blue).
Remember – there are no bad colours. Although every colour has upsides and downsides.
You may have a preference for one colour over another, based on its colour psychology, cultural symbolism, personal associations or even how the colour affects you physically. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn:
1. COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY
How might the psychology of yellow be relevant to your brand value proposition and your target clients?
The colour yellow impacts the emotions, which is why it’s often called the sunshine colour:
It feels optimistic, confident, extravert, friendly and creative.
Yellow is uplifting which is why it is often called the colour of happiness.
Too much yellow or the wrong type of yellow could create anxiety or fear – hence the term ‘yellow-bellied’
2. CULTURAL SYMBOLISM
What could the brand colour yellow symbolise to your clients?
In astrology, yellow is the colour of the Sun – the planet that distils the very essence of you, your essential nature, which is why some people say its the ‘me’ colour.
Spiritually, it’s the colour of the solar plexus chakra. And this is said to be associated with your identity, your fire, your ego – which has a lot in common with the astrological meaning.
Yellow has a heritage as a royal colour in Europe and China. (My daughter tells me that it’s the Queen’s favourite colour). There was the Sun King in France with his golden fleur-de-lis, and in China, at one time, a bright, egg yolk type of yellow could only be worn by the emperor.
More recently, yellow is the colour of emojies, minions and post-it notes – icons that brighten up everyday life.
In nature, yellow combined with black – as displayed by bees and wasps – is one of nature’s warnings, which could be why we’ve adapted yellow and black for hazard warning tapes and symbols.
3. PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS
How could your clients experience yellow in their lives? Take a look at how people talk about yellow:
Colour names for yellow seem to be inextricably linked with nature – from flowers such as sunflower, daffodil, dandelion – to foods such as lemon, honey, pineapple, banana, mustard, mayonnaise and birds like the canary
Many people smile at the thought of daffodils in spring or sunflowers in summer. They might love the tang of lemon and the sweetness of honey. Or dislike the taste and texture of yellow-coloured mustard.
3. PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES
How might yellow match the benefits you bring your clients?
It’s a stand-out colour – yellow walls in work rooms can encourage emotional engagement and creative thinking.
Conversely using yellow walls in a bedroom may make it harder to get to sleep.
Yellow is the colour of happiness, warmth and sunshine. It’s an uplifting, upbeat, optimistic colour. It’s quite smiley, joyful and positive.
On the other hand, if used inappropriately, the downsides of yellow include anxiety, fearfulness and warnings.
The role of yellow in branding
Take a look at the video – it’s about 8 minutes long – to discover more about the power of yellow. Or carry on reading below for ideas on using yellow in your branding.
Examples of yellow in use
Here are four brands – Post-it, Ferrari, Hertz and IKEA – which tap into the positive qualities of yellow. Together with some examples of yellow you’ll have seen many times.
Post-it is a product brand that was invented through serendipity, so it seems appropriate that it uses yellow to evoke an upbeat, helpful, cheerful and positive approach in the stationery market sector.
Most people asociate racing red with the Ferrari brand because it’s the signature colour of their cars. Yet the brand marque uses the colour of the city where the brand was born – Modena Giallo – combined with the aristocratic ‘prancing pony’ and the colours of the Italian flag.
Hertz was the brand leader in car rentals for many years, whilst Avis tried harder at number 2. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2021, still using yellow to capture the optimism of an anticapated car hire (with renewed business success).
You could say that the IKEA colour palette combines the creativity and positivity of sunshine yellow with the calm mind (blue) required to put its flatpack products together. However it’s a bit more simple! They use the colours of the Swedish flag, which are also the colours of sunshine and sky.
Modern Yellow Fun
Emojis, shown here – and Minions too – demonstrate the bubbly cheerfulness of yellow, that effortlessly brings a smile.
Yellow is said to be the favourite colour of Queen Elizabeth II – and there are plenty of photos that show her wearing it well! Here is one of them – set against a carpet of yellow daisies – what’s not to like!
Attention Grabbing Yellow
Taking the lessons from nature’s hazard warning colours – yellow and black – and putting them to good use in a hazard warning sign. From crime scene tape to notices, yellow and black attract your attention.
Choosing your brand colours is a strategic decision.
This is why I believe it’s important to take into account:
- The power of individual colours and combinations of colours
- Target customers’ needs, wants and mindset – so you understand what attracts them to your brand – and
- Your own brand in depth – from purpose, values and personality – to brand value proposition versus competitors.
There are plenty of colour guidelines around, yet I believe that selecting your best brand colours requires an artistic sensibility, combined with an intuitive understanding and experience of how branding works.
If you’d like to read more about brand colours, I’ve also written about Orange and Green. Or book a call here if you’d like to talk about which colours could work best for your brand.
Read more: 5 Ways to use Colour to Build your Brand
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