Yellow is a warm color. Imagine a meadow bathed in yellow sunshine or a cozy room lit by candlelight. Yellow is associated with joy, cheerfulness, youth, optimism, and playfulness. But like the hundreds of yellow tints and shades that exist, there are lots of yellow meanings that range from positive to negative.
Uses of yellow
Because of yellow’s cheery playfulness, it’s a common color in toys, apparel and other products made for tots. School buses are traditionally yellow, and because yellow is a primary color, many children’s toys and learning products are red, blue, and yellow.
Yellow is also associated with the tropics because of abundant sunshine plus tropical fruits like banana, pineapple and plantain. These meanings help explain why yellow is commonly associated with leisure and recreation products. By contrast, you won’t find a lot of guys wearing yellow business suits to the office.
Because bright yellow is easy to see, it’s often used in hazard signs, typically alternating with black or red stripes. To ensure high visibility in a sea of traffic, taxis are traditionally yellow.
In nature, black and yellow stripes can mean “danger. ” Think bees, yellow jackets and certain wasps. More negative connotations of the color yellow include phrases like “yellow-bellied” and “yellow streak” (cowardly), as well as sickness and disease like yellow fever (and the yellow-green someone’s face may appear during sickness).
Complementary and analogous colors
On the color wheel, yellow is located directly opposite the color purple, making the two colors complementary. While you won’t see yellow and purple together often outside of adventurous fashion choices, it is a popular color combination for sports teams, like the LSU Tigers.
Yellow is analogous (closest on the color wheel) to the colors green and orange.
Is yellow right for your brand?
If you have a serious product, there are likely better choices for your business than yellow. But it could be dandy if you are marketing your brand to parents and small children, or selling products or services into the leisure industries – especially if there’s a tropical angle to what you do. Be sure to select a tint or shade of yellow that is visually appealing. Most people are repelled by dingy yellows, but respond well to sunny or lemony hues!