When you think about your favorite fast food establishments – McDonald’s, In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s– what do they all have in common?


Sure, but that’s not quite what we’re looking at here. When you think about their logos, what do they all have in common?

The colors used are almost identical. So, what if we told you that there’s a science to it?

Known as the ketchup and mustard theory, the combination of red and yellow is the perfect pairing to draw in hungry consumers. The yellow evokes happiness and excitement, while red is known to enhance metabolism – the ideal combo for a grab-and-go establishment.

But it’s not just fast food restaurants that use color psychology to draw you in, it’s everywhere you look – from banks to grocery stores, and airlines to software companies. Whether you’re looking to start a company, going through a rebrand, or just starting a new campaign, color psychology is something to always keep in the back of your mind. While there are scientific properties as to why we perceive certain color meanings, lets leave that to the scientists and do our jobs as communicators by breaking down exactly what specific colors mean to consumers.


Red is associated with feelings of energy, passion, and excitement. As we mentioned earlier, it also triggers feelings of hunger or increased appetite, so red is often used in the logos of consumables. Think Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, KFC, and Chick-fil-A, to name a few. Additionally,we subconsciously associate the color red with alert signals like stop signs, so it’s a great color to use for CTA’s, or just to grab consumers’ attention. Some of the most distinguishable red logos include CNN, Coca-Cola, and Target.


As you might assume, bright and sunshine-y yellow is often used to signify happiness. Some yellow brands include companies like Ikea and Best Buy. Both brands fittingly use yellow in their logos seeing as buying new furniture or electronics is an exciting process- signifying a move or the start of a new chapter. But as much as it is used to evoke positivity, yellow can also be used to signify warning – where things like traffic signs and stoplights come in.


When it comes to color psychology, blue is one of the most stable colors on the spectrum. Because of its natural association to the sky and the ocean, blues are often tied to feelings of security, peace, and trust. Blue is used by companies like IBM, Dell, Boeing, General Electric, and many more – who are all looking for their customers to trust them with things like personal safety, information, and technology.


The perfect mix of red and yellow both physically and psychologically, orange represents traits like creativity, success, enthusiasm, and balance. Although it isn’t as visually commanding as red, using orange is bound to add some fun and energy to your designs. Some of the most famous orange logos include Nickelodeon, Soundcloud, and Home Depot – all of which promote creativity in different ways.


I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the color green is associated with nature, health, and money – so it only makes sense that companies like John Deere, Whole Foods, and Land Rover use green in their logos. John Deere’s entire brand is centered around agriculture and landscaping; Whole Foods specializes in organic products; and Land Rovers are known for their ability to drive on any terrain.


Combining the excitement of red and the balance of blue, purple is often used to signify regality, honor, courage, and luxury. And although it isn’t used in many company logos, purple can make a statement for that very reason – it is unique. Although it isn’t as eye-catching as some of its brighter counterparts, companies like Yahoo!, Hallmark, and Cadbury have had no problems creating a long-lasting brand while using the color.

So, you have your color psychology down – what’s next? For help with everything from logo design to rebranding, Team TMG has you covered. Just drop us a line here.