Color Lesson: Yellow

In every society, yellow is equated with the splendor and heat of the sun. Yellow emulates sunshine, light and warmth. It is a color that is identified with imagination and enlightenment, glowing with the intensity of sunlight itself. In the lightest variations, consumers see yellow as cheerful, mellow and soft to the touch. Bright daffodil yellows are equally cheerful, although more energetic and eye-catching than the paler yellows, an excellent color to use at point of purchase or in displays because the eye “sees” highly reflective yellow before it notices any other color. Unlike other hues that deepen with saturation, yellow becomes brighter when it is highly saturated.

Shades of yellow that can be described as delicious such as tasty shades like banana cream or custard are best used, for example, in food service areas, food products, dining ares, or linens for the tabletop. Lemon yellow is also a happy color associated with sweet somewhat citrusy tastes, but it is less sophisticated than the cream yellows.

For the American consumer, the most preferred yellows are creamy and very warm or sun-baked, while the greenish yellows are not especially popular. However, all shades of yellow, especially green-based, are acceptable in Asian cultures. The closer yellow gets to green, the more it is associated with tart and acidic tastes.

Of all color combinations in nature, yellow and black is the most unignorable—because of its ancient associations to dangerous predators, the colors of stinging insects and other exotic or scary creatures that say: you’d better pay attention to me. For that reason, it’s an excellent combination for signage or the packaging of products that blatantly call out from the market shelves. Its message is less than subtle, it’s the “pow” in powerful, an industrial strength symbol suitable to products for heavy duty usages—a combination of black’s strength and yellow’s energetic but user-friendly connotations.

Postive: cheering, happy, joyful, nourishing, hospitable, rich
Negative: caution, danger


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