Last week we looked at cultural and historical significance of certain colour – today the journey continues.

Considering the importance of creating consistency and distinct branding through colour schemes, it’s important to understand the way colour affects audiences’ memory and reaction.

In this blog, we continue our overview of the different colours, highlighting their corporate use as well as their importance in different countries and cultures.

Yellow (Subway, IMDB, National Geographic, Ferrari, Ikea, JB Hi-Fi, Schweppes)

In the West, yellow is associated with joy, cheer, happiness, hope, and warmth since it symbolises the colour of sunlight. Yellow has also been symbolic of caution (due to its high visibility), which is why many street signs are coloured yellow to capture attention. Historically yellow has also been used to denote cowardice (as in ‘yellow-bellied’). In Germany, yellow represents envy, while in Egypt, it conveys good fortune.

Orange (Nickelodeon, Fanta, Harley Davidson, Gatorade, Amazon, Penguin Books)

Orange symbolises autumn and warmth in Western cultures. In Hinduism, saffron (a soft orange colour) is considered sacred and auspicious, which is why Buddhist monks’ robes are often saffron coloured. In the Netherlands, orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family. In Colombia, orange represents sexuality and fertility. In Eastern cultures, orange symbolises love, good health and happiness.

Orange was Frank Sinatra’s favourite colour – he owned a private jet and Palm Springs compound, both of which were filled with orange accents and features inside and out. Most of the flooring and furnishings of his home were orange as was a large proportion of his clothing and cars. “Orange is the happiest colour,” said Old Blue Eyes.

Purple colour (Cadbury, Hallmark, Game, Ben Q, Instagram, Yahoo, Twitch, FedEx)

Purple is often associated with royalty, wealth, spirituality, and nobility around the world – which is why it was legendary musician Prince’s favourite colour. Catholics see purple as a colour of faith and penitence. In Japan, only the highest ranked Buddhist monks wear purple robes. In Brazil and Thailand purple is the colour of mourning and sorrow. The US military see purple as a colour of honour — the Purple Heart is given to soldiers injured in battle.

Black and White (Nike, Adidas, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Apple, Uber)

In Western cultures, white symbolises elegance, peace, and purity. Traditionally, brides wear white to reflect fidelity. However, in Asian countries such as China and Korea, white represents death and mourning, so it’s traditionally worn at funerals in these cultures.

In many cultures black represents sophistication and formality, but it can also symbolise death, evil, mourning, magic, bad luck, and mystery. In the Middle East black can represent both rebirth and mourning. In Africa it symbolises age, maturity, and masculinity.

Together, black and white can reflect old age (as in film and TV). Black and white also represents balance, sophistication, simplicity, and authority – thus many fashion and luxury use black and white.

The colours black and white also pair beautifully with metallic colours such as gold and silver. The simplicity of black and white matches nicely with metallic accents. Again, many luxury and fashion brands use gold or silver with black and white because of how striking metallic colours look on black or white backgrounds.

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