The colour yellow and its meaning

The colour yellow is a colour that, like red, DEMANDS our attention and is impossible to not notice being the lightest hue of the spectrum. It is uplifting, happy, cheerful and fun.  Yellow also encourages original thought, improves our inquisitive nature and offers hope and optimism for the future whilst improving our outlook on life.

In this post, I will look in-depth at the meaning of yellow, how different shades have different meanings to us and when we should consider using the power of yellow in our branding.

Yellow is the colour of the Solar Plexus chakra – communication & knowledge

Why am I talking about chakras and what is a chakra? A chakra is what is known as an energy wheel that helps make up our spiritual aura ( that can be seen by the use of special cameras) of seven colours. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple and gold/white. It is believed to relate to how we think and how we experience the world, how people see us, as well as our physical and mental health.

Each chakra has a purpose beyond its colour and the solar plexus is believed to be the chakra of learning, comprehension and initiative.

It can relate to our self-esteem, respect for others, calmness, joyfulness and able to take ‘educated’ risks. This is the essence of yellow in our spiritual being which gives us an inclination of when we might choose to use the colour when communicating a brand message.

If we consider a business that already uses yellow successfully in their branding we can see how the chakras purpose plays a part in the selection of the colour. National Geographic, a frame like a square in yellow educates us about the world and uses this colour successfully to represent it is a fountain of knowledge. Nikon, the camera brand also use this colour as their primary colour but as a symbol of their product to be able to empower the user with initiative and creativity. Mcdonalds, on the other hand, use of colour as a symbol that is also represented by happiness. combining both the red (impulsive) with the yellow (happy) makes McDonald’s a quick fix to feeling happier! You lovin’ it?

 The colour yellow in nature


The colour yellow in nature evokes the brightness and energy of the sun. The warm glow and sense of wellbeing we get when it is a hot sunny day, yellow in nature always relates to things that are attractive and very pleasing to our senses.

Sunflowers are also yellow not just because of that being the only colour the petals don’t absorb but it has evolved that way to attract insects and in particular bees and butterflies to them in order to collect pollen and discussed here by

…The large flower base of the sunflower also acts as an appropriate base for the insects to settle on. The reason as to why the flowers have evolved in this way to attract insects to them is of course, pollination…

The bad side of the colour yellow

Yellow can often be seen in society as a colour of cowardice and or impatience due to the fact it can evoke anxiety in people if exposed to it too much which means when choosing it as a colour for a brand you have to be very very careful or have a product that relates to the sharing of knowledge or creation of new ideas (hence why my main colour is yellow/gold) as your potential customers may see your business and your products as a bit of a liability and feel anxious in doing business certainly if there is a lot of change going on in their lives.

Yellow is also a colour full of confidence and when you start to have too much confidence we can start to appear a little arrogant to some, for this reason, it is important to rebalance your brand with another colour such as blue to cool down the power of this intense colour or green to create balance.

 The colour yellow and its cultural representation in different countries

Culturally speaking the colour yellow is interesting. For the western world, it can mean both happiness, hope and joy but to others, it can be a symbol of cowardice or to be cautious, particularly when combined with black.
In the East, yellow is a sacred colour, imperial and speaks of honour and in the middle east, it can relate to prosperity and happiness. Interestingly the colour yellow evokes jealousy in France.

How yellow can affect our mood

Beach Scene

Yello as already discussed is a very happy colour, optimistic, full of knowledge and colour that can evoke our creativity and help us ‘get things done’ and stop procrastinating. Simply viewing this colour can invigorate our ambitions and help us to take leaps into the unknown with the knowledge we have gained with confidence and logic.

Shades of yellow

Although all that I have spoken about here is vibrant yellow, yellow has many different variants of its colour combining it with the pigments of other colours. This website by each explains some of the shades of yellow and their psychological meaning in more depth.
With the colour yellow, you should use it for a brand that sells knowledge, creativity or optimism.  It is another colour that to work to full effect must be paired with another due to its powerful nature particularly due to it having some negative connotations in the western world, it has often been used as secondary colour than a primary colour in brand design because it is one of those colours that communicates its message strongly and for some viewers, too strongly so can prevent business being done. I chose it as my primary colour because I am creative and someone who has studied an awful lot in different creative practices. Although my symbol is yellow/gold I also combine it with other colours which keeps the positive aspects of the colour but also combines it with varying other colours to enforce the sense of knoweldge I am trying to portray.
I hope this brief article about the colour yellow has been useful, do you have any other points that you think may be useful to someone thinking about using yellow in their design work?