Color Theory: Orange as a Branding Color
Understand the color theory of orange to make the right choice for your branding and marketing
If you are considering orange as a primary color for your brand, it’s a good idea to understand the color theory of orange and associations of the color.
Unlike blue, which is universally liked and feels trusted and safe, orange is the opposite. It sits “opposite” on the color wheel and feels the opposite in its energy as well. In the U.S., orange is rarely picked as a ‘favorite color’ and one study said it was the least favorite color for as many as one-third of women.
Orange in logos, branding, and packaging usually represent the ingredients or flavor
Many brands that use oranges as an ingredient use the color in their packaging—hence nearly every orange juice company uses orange as a primary brand color. This includes all-natural orange juice as well as orange-flavored soda or any product that wants to indicate the orange flavor.
Color psychology: Orange means safety or alert
Color theory of orange associates it with safety equipment and therefore unsafe situations. Orange traffic cones are required by the Federal Highway Administration’s standards. Orange, because of its bright color is ideal for traffic barrels, reflective vests, and other safety equipment.
The Home Depot has one of the most famous orange logos. The founders said that they chose orange for their branding and specifically for their famous aprons because they wanted the salespeople to stand out like beacons within the warehouse-style stores. Just like a safety cone or vest draws your attention and tells you to be alert, The Home Depot has used that bright orange to bring quick attention to their team members.
Orange in logos and branding are bold and fun
Orange is rarely found as a primary brand color for any large, national brand. Amazon is clearly a national brand, but many would classify their smile as yellow rather than a true orange. So how can you make the color theory of orange work for your brand?
The few brands that do use orange use it highlight the energy and fun of their brand. The most notable are Harley Davidson, Reese’s, Dunkin’ and Nickelodeon.
Is orange right for your brand?
Just because there are few big brands choosing orange, doesn’t mean you should avoid orange. Finding the right color for your brand depends on what you associations you want to come to mind when people see your brand. For the right product or company—one that is fun, involved in safety, or wants to appear non-traditional—orange might be the right color to make your brand stand out.
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