yellow ribbon

Mellow yellow wasn’t always so: several hundred years ago in France, yellow was smeared onto the doors of felons and traitors, heretics in Spain were urged to wear a yellow cross as penance, and Judas is often portrayed in paintings clothed in a yellow garb. Today, the color generally connotes warm golden sunshine and happiness, we are reminded of happy singing men who live in submarines, yet yellow was once known as the color of betrayal.

In modern times, yellow roses indicate friendship (as opposed to the red roses of love), and yellow ribbons signify hope and loyalty during wartime. We also use the term “yellow” to indicate cowardice. This figure of speech may have originated from a species of timid yellow-bellied lizards, or may refer to yellow bile the four humors of Greek medicine.

Yellow pigment dates back to prehistoric times: specifically, traces of ochre used in paint have been found in a South African cave, dating back 100,000 years. Ochre is non-toxic and is produced from ochre clay. While yellow pigment is generally no longer derived from this clay, artists’ today still refer to specific hues as “yellow ochre” and “red ochre.”

A New York City icon, cabs painted yellow make spotting and hailing one an easier task, but brightly colored taxis actually had their start in Chicago in 1915. Founded by John Daniel Hertz, the Yellow Cab Company took to heart University of Chicago findings that stated that yellow was the most easily visible color at a distance. (Today, we may generally associate Hertz with his car rental service.) The decision to paint taxis this vivid color has been monumental: yellow cabs have since become an American tradition.

Color Series: Lean, Mean and Green

Green: it signifies American cash, it refers to being ecologically conscious, and green means go. It is a natural color, of grass and forests, but can also be quite unnatural, the bright shade of space martians.

The American Dollar has been green ever since the first one-dollar billed debuted as a Legal Tender Note…

Color Series: Stuck on Blue

“We’re looking for a unique brand color for our company. We really want to stand out.”

“Well, red would really differentiate your company.”

“Can’t use red. The CEO hates red. He hates orange, too.”

“How about green? Green has very strong positive associations and….”

“Nope. We don’t want to look like we…

Color Series: The Proportional Color Palette

The visual aspects of a brand are what creates the overall “brand identity,” a way for audiences to create perceptions about your brand based on the consistency of images, language, font, design, and of course, colors. Color plays a crucial role in both the creation of an identity and a logo as it creates consistency…