Color & Branding –Number 3 in a series

Yellow is today’s topic as a prime color for branding applications. In its most pure, yellow is a primary color whose complement is purple and its neighbors are yellow-green and orange.

The color has two main attributes: it denotes a cheerful countenance, and it provides an effective contrast to black and deep blue. Thus, yellow was a “natural” for the “smiley face”, as it is for “yield” signs and high-lighters.

Yellow daffodil

Research, according to Pantone which is the company responsible for standardizing colors for print, digital and textile applications through their color guides, suggests a yellow background and black type provides the best legibility combination. They also claim yellow to be the first color the human eye gravitates to when the entire spectrum is presented.

Other positive attributes of yellow include caution, intelligence, joy, and Springtime. Like every color, there are possible negative associations with the color. And though I don’t recognize these as associated with yellow, according to Jason OConnor writing for , laziness, criticism and cynicism are yellow attributes. I know cowardness to be associated – someone with a “yellow streak” – but not the others. Then we’re sometimes stuck with a “lemon”.

One problem with yellow: unless it’s a darker gold shade, it does not stand out on a white background. It requires additional colors, specifically dark colors, to make a strong impression. In that environment, yellow provides a spark.

The Color Harmony Workbook suggests that yellow creates “motion”, that it is particularly applicable for sports-related brands. The Workbook also states that, “Yellow is cheerful, uplifting and spirited; it stimulates communication, intellect and attention to detail.

Thus, in a logo or for a trade dress palette, yellow with a dark color provides contrast, “vibrates” and suggests “action”. But all by itself, it tends to fade into neutral backgrounds. Yellow best works as background or as an accent.

Here are some who have adapted yellow into their brand.

 Yellow logos and trade-dress
Martin Jelsema

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.