How Consumers Perceive Color - The Color Psychology of Yellow

Published: 20-Jul-2021
Last Updated: 24-Jul-2021
How Consumers Perceive Color - The Color Psychology of Yellow

The color yellow is powerful. It's the most visible color in nature, and it can be a symbol of joy or anger, depending on how you use it.

Yellow also represents creativity and intelligence, much in relation to its association with sunlight — which must mean that people who wear yellow are creative too, right?

But how does this affect your customers and their perceptions of your brand? Let's take a deep dive into the color psychology of yellow and how it could help (or hurt) your brand image.

What is the Meaning of Yellow?

Yellow is the color of sunshine. It's the color the sun turns the white clouds into every evening when the sky grows dim and the light wanes. Yellow is the most visible color on any beach in the morning, when the sun rises and the sea sparkles — a sight to behold as the soft sunlight washes over the sand.

Yellow is also the color of daffodils that bloom in the springtime — this association means that yellow can be used to symbolize new beginnings, optimism, renewal, and the start of the busy season.

But the color yellow also symbolizes aggression, danger, and warning — this is the color that the great horned owl or the wavering wasp uses to protect its territory.

While it's true that yellow seems to be the color of the universe, the perception is not always positive. Yellow can symbolize dishonesty and cowardice as well, since it's the color of tricks (like those of the yellow-bellied sapsucker) and those who cannot face danger head-on.

It can also represent envy or jealousy, as yellow is often associated with gold — money itself and all the happiness it brings to those who have earned enough to enjoy a lavish lifestyle filled with fine furnishings and materials.

Color psychology has shown that yellow can symbolize hate as well — the bright shade of angry and threatening hornets makes them a sign of war and protest. There are many other uses for yellow, depending on the context, but there's somewhat of an overall consensus when it comes to its meanings, at least in the western world:

  • Power and energy
  • Emotions
  • Money & wealth
  • Love and relationships
  • Goals & purpose in life
  • Sunlight & happiness

The Psychological Effects of the Color Yellow in Branding

The color yellow doesn't just mean the same things it meant hundreds of years ago — the perception of the meaning and the psychological effect of the color have changed over time, and the most recent research shows that yellow is most commonly associated with fun, joy, happiness, confidence, cheerfulness, and intelligence. It can also increase brand appeal and improve recall rates for websites.

When used correctly in branding strategies like logo design or website design, the color yellow can be a great help to your business. Let’s take a closer look at why that may be the case:

  • Increases Brand Appeal: Marketers know that you don't want to make potential customers feel uneasy when they visit a web site. Colors affect moods as well, and the use of the wrong color can make the audience feel hesitant about the business it represents. The good news is that yellow creates the perception of fun, joy, happiness, confidence, cheerfulness, and intelligence — the people who visit your site will associate these positive feelings with your brand!
  • Improves Recall Rates: The psychological effect of the color yellow on consumer behavior cannot be denied when web design is concerned — using the bright shade in the background has been shown to improve recall rates for online advertising when compared to plain black or white backgrounds. It has also been proven to increase click-through ratios for banner ads.
  • Helps to Communicate Your Message: This doesn't have much to do with branding, but the psychological effect of the color yellow can help to boost the power of your message immensely.  The reason has to do with the symbolism behind the color, especially in the East: yellow is a sacred color that represents benevolence, joy, and hope.  People associate the color yellow with positivity and believe it promotes optimism - this is the reason why they respond so well to online marketing messages that use the bright shade of sunshine!
  • Create Lifelike Designs: Not only will visitors feel as if they're happier when looking at your brand identity, but the perception of the effect that the color can have on consumer behavior should give you an advantage when designing logos or web icons — consumers are likely to remember brands better if the business falls in the yellow spectrum of the color wheel.

Branding and Design Doesn’t Have to Be Hard.

At Carbon Digital, we specialize in developing effective branding. As part of our work, we've analyzed the ways people respond to colors in branding. With this knowledge, we help businesses like yours to utilize these responses to influence consumers and build a brand that converts.

Incorporating the psychology of color in your branding and website design is essential. Carbon Digital specializes in partnering with organizations to meet their branding and design needs. Our goal is to increase customer loyalty and conversions for your business, and brand and color play a significant role in this strategic plan. 

Contact us today and let’s get started!


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