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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Colour psychology: Mellow Yellow

Colour Psychology: Yellow (with yellow flowers in the background)

Hello mellow yellow! Today we’re exploring the brand colour yellow as part of our colour psychology series. Colour choice is paramount when presenting your brand, so full consideration must be had before decisions and investment are made. Yellow is a great way to inject energy into your brand but it does come with a few caveats. Let’s explore!

The positive power of yellow in branding

Yellow is the colour of sunshine and happiness – bright, fresh, energising and playful. If you want to stand out, yellow could be the colour of your brand. But, before you jump in, do Mr Happy and Little Miss Sunshine have a sinister side you need to be aware of?

Use yellow to stand out from the crowd

The colour yellow is the most visible colour to humans in daylight hours. That’s why it grabs people’s attention. Brands needing to be noticed quickly have used yellow to great effect. The trusty Post-it is one, Shell energy wouldn’t want you to run out of fuel so have endeavoured to stand out and you can’t miss the famous New York Taxis on the street of the five boroughs.

This attention-grabbing power means, combined with black, it’s perfect to warn of hazards. The ability to alert means it’s a core colour for those who operate in potentially hazardous environments. CAT, JCB and John Deere all use yellow prominently in their brands.

Yellow is a youthful colour. It was the original colour of MTV for its 1981 launch and now is the colour of Snapchat. Children’s toys utilise yellow to great effect, catching the attention and creating engagement (Lego use yellow as a secondary colour).

Golden delicious

Yellow is not just a warning, it’s the colour that greets us in the morning. From Corn Flakes to Shredded Wheat, Coco Pops to Cheerios, the cereal aisle has a golden glow. Yellow is used to represent the grains and honey commonly used, but this has an added cheering effect to brighten our mornings.

Like the brand colour, Red it’s an appetite-increasing colour too, so is often seen in fast food branding. McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway all feature the brand colour yellow.

Global connotations of yellow

If you’re an international business explore the cultural meaning of yellow to avoid any surprises. In Egypt and many African nations, yellow is closely linked with gold and is highly regarded. This is the same case in Japan, where it represents wealth and also bravery. But in France it’s the opposite, being the colour of cowardice and jealousy. In some countries, it had associations with madness. And in China, it has the unfortunate honour of being the colour associated with the pornographic industry.

It’s not just humans who react to yellow. Behavioural studies have observed that, along with the brand colour blue, it’s the colour dogs see.

The dark side of yellow

Yellow isn’t all sunny side; it has a flip side. Some shades of yellow take on a sickly hue. False rumours that babies cry more in yellow rooms don’t help the case, even if unproven. And despite it being so upbeat, looking at yellow for too long can be unsettling so make sure it’s partner colours can help take the strain.

So explore yellow to see if it can put some positive energy into your brand. If you’re not convinced, look out for the rest of this series to see which colours might be the key to unlocking your brand’s potential. And always look on the bright side of life!

Interested in learning more? We’re all ears. Get in touch and let’s chat about developing your brand together.

More from the brand colour psychology series

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