business branding colours… meaning of yellow

Business branding colours - meaning of yellow - IKEA. This opens a new browser window.

When you choose a colour or colours for your brand, do you know what they are saying? Businesses that choose yellow as their primary brand colour, are they all expressing a personality of happiness, optimism and friendliness? And when yellow is incorporated with another colour or colours, you can completely change the meaning of your brand identity without even realising.


There are quite a few well known brands that use yellow as one of their main brand colours such as Lego, McDonalds, the upmarket London department store Selfridges, Stanley and Midas.

colour symbolism
Recognised worldwide for its blue and yellow brand colours, IKEA’s founder choose the colours from his country’s national flag – Sweden. IKEA certainly use their brand colours to full effect with their store exteriors decked out in yellow and blue. This increases brand recognition and leaves no confusion as to who they are.

colour psychology
Though IKEAs brand colours are symbolic, the psychological properties of these two colours are still in play. The colour yellow positivity expresses a friendly, happy experience. The staff are also on the whole very helpful and happy. They also use a dark blue which represents trust, communication and loyalty.

McDonald’s branding colours are yellow and red. The combination of yellow and red is perfect for the fast food industry.

Business branding colours - meaning of yellow - McDonald's. This opens a new browser window.

most visible colour
Bright yellow is the most visible colour in daylight, which makes the IKEA signage easy to spot from a distance. McDonalds also use their brand colour yellow to great effect with their golden arches being seen from a great distance – you can’t fail to notice this when you are on the motorway.

Stanley Tools (and other machinery brands) on the other hand have chosen to use black alongside yellow. This is an interesting combination given that in nature this combination represents a warning signal, danger and an alert. You could say it fits in with tool, machinery industry – being on alert to danger and the need for high safety requirements.

Business branding colours - meaning of yellow - IKEA. This opens a new browser window.

is yellow right for your brand?
Think about whether the qualities of yellow truly express the personality of your brand. It’s just as important to understand the combined message with any other branding colours you used. For more information check out these blog posts on the use of yellow in branding.

To find out more about the effects colour has on your brand download my free e-book 7 mistakes most business owners make with their branding colours.

Images: smh.com.au and logodesignlove.com

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