Colour notes: Fast food
The study of colour is a huge subject. Researches have shown that certain colours affect us in different ways. Some of these are obvious; blue – the colour of a sunny sky and a clear ocean – is a soothing colour.
Red, on the other hand, creates excitement – and hunger. Just think about how many fast food logos use red. McDonald’s of course, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Checkers, KFC …
The second most popular colour in fast food logos in orange. Orange has the effect of making things appear to be value for money (example: Home Depot) Red also has the advantage of being highly noticeable, this is why red is used for stop signs and so on.
One of the reasons that red tones, which include orange and orange/yellow, is because of the abundance of foods of those colours. Think of a farmers market with all those glorious tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, strawberries, corn, squash, apples, lemons, carrots … you can see why these colours stimulate the appetite.
Blue, on the other hand, is supposed to suppress the appetite – and how many blue foods can you think of? (Blueberries, blue cheese, the occasional cocktail and that rather weird-coloured Gatorade…) Is this the secret of weight loss? Wear only blue?
In short, red is stimulating and exciting; blue is soothing and calming. But do people really use this information to their advantage? Once you start thinking about these colours you notice where they are used and why.
Well, we know that fast food companies do but it goes beyond that. Don’t think that when George W Bush was the president of the United States he looked into his closet every morning and wondered what he felt like wearing that day.
He would wake to find that his clothes are already laid out for him and the psychology of colour plays its part.
Watch old footage carefully and you’ll see that when the ex-president was in a situation where he wanted to appear to be aggressive and forceful, the chances are that he’d be wearing a red tie.
If he needed to appear to be conciliatory, the tie and the suit would be blue.
If you saw him wearing a neutral colour, you’ll know that he wanted to project neither of these images; he wants to show impartiality.
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