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I am working on a new brand, which is all about food.

What colors should we use for the logo and website?

I keep reading that red makes you hungry, but i would like to stay away from that color. All of our competitors must have read the same articles.

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Well purple suppresses hunger, so not purple. Blue has also been claimed to suppress hunger as few natural food items are blue. As far as what makes you hungry, Red is the only color I've heard any serious evidence supporting. Sometimes your competitors are simply doing the right thing, you might have to find better ways to differentiate your brand. –  Ben Brocka Nov 23 '11 at 1:32
    
@BenBrocka I will stay away from blue and purple. I agree that red is a good color, but i hope somebody has ideas with different colors. –  Emil Nov 23 '11 at 1:55
    
Color psychology is all voodoo science to me. I don't buy into this subconscious crap. –  JoJo Nov 23 '11 at 8:43
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@JoJo voodoo or not it's empirically verifiable. Whether or not you buy into a particular mechanism for the effect is irrelevant. –  Ben Brocka Nov 23 '11 at 15:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

On ColorMatters.com there is a question about Colors for Food Products: Logos and Packaging

One paragraph quoted below:

..blue is an appetite suppressant, although only in certain concentrations and by volume of use. But a color like Purple Martin used in a ratio of say 15-20% of total space with a dominant color such as Golden Wheat, add maybe a punch of Oriental Red (3-5%) and you've roused up the greatest of appetites.

Reds, oranges, violets and rich greens in particular are all going to accentuate hunger. Increase the intensity using black. Most grocers have discovered that black highlights the quality and color of produce by making the background recede. (Shrinkwrapped packaging, produce build-ups, etc.) Best advice take a field trip to your local grocer.

Keep in mind colors that attract the target consumer and demographics you are trying to reach. Young? Affluent? Gourmet?

Figure and ground

What I think is a particularly good point is the importance that background plays in addition to the foreground - in order to separate figure and ground.

Personal taste

But in addition to pure colors, people become familiar with colours of their favourite foods to the point that similar colours consciously or subconsciously remind them of that food - making them feel hungry. Similarly for foods you don't like! So the individual tastes are going to have an important factor for sure.

Imagery

In addition to the colours the imagery is going to play an important part - red may incur hunger, but an actual picture of gorgeous food is going to do the job a whole lot more.

It's interesting searching through pictures of food for ones that are especially appealing. for example, looking on Google images for strawberries and cream - there's a lot of red going on, but actually very few of the pictures stand head and shoulders above all the others as being attractive. Some of the reds are too pale and too bright and the fruit doesn't look real - and nor does the cream come to that.

So it's perhaps questionable as to whether a picture of food is as good in a general situation as something symbolic of a food - hinting or suggestive enough in appearance for us to conjure up whatever happens to be our ideal vision of that food without it actually having to be thrust at us with a full detail photo, which may muddy the visualization through too much detail. (Too much cream may put me off, too pale a strawberry looks unripe, too dark looks overripe or unnatural)

Combined effect

In reality of course, it's not just down to colour - it's how all the visuals come together to represent the whole.

Examples:

A single picture of a strawberry is nice - lots of red:

enter image description here

Add some natural context. Introduce a different colour to add some background and differentiate figure and ground:

enter image description here

Make a deal out of the presentation:

enter image description here

Or use symbology, wording, and let the subconcsious do the visualization for you:

enter image description here


Pictures sources: 1 2 3 4

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Found an article here that's interesting: The Psychology of Fast Food Logos

... most fast food logos contain one or more of the following colors– red, yellow, orange, or green; particularly the former two. That’s because, according to the color theory, these colors are known to subconsciously trigger hunger and/or induce excitement. These colors encourage guests to spend more and leave quickly– which is exactly what fast food restaurants want you to do.

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I wonder how much of this is self-fulfilling, ie do we associate those colours with hunger due to living in a culture where food is associated with those colours? When McDonalds chose the yellow M, did they do so based on psychology or just because the graphic designer liked yellow? –  Rahul Nov 23 '11 at 12:17
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@Rahul interesting points to consider from a psychological perspective, but for implementation purposes the reason behind the hunger association are largely irrelevant; if it only works because McDonald's uses red and yellow it still works. Most of UX depends on learned associations anyway; how would a naive person know that hitting a key labeled Enter would submit a form? –  Ben Brocka Nov 23 '11 at 15:29
    
Its interesting that McDonalds uses just yellow in their logo, but in a lot of the product packaging (e.g. fries carton) makes use of red - I wonder if there is a reason behind that? –  dodgy_coder Nov 24 '11 at 0:14
    
I don't know if it is the reason but that yellow M always reminds me of their fries since I was a child. They have long fries unlike my mothers' fries :) –  Kuzgun May 23 at 12:06

I found reference that Orange also triggers positive association with food: http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours

ORANGE.
Positive: Physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun.
Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity.

Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating and reaction to it is a combination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort - food, warmth, shelter etc. - and sensuality. It is a 'fun' colour. Negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite - deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange is used with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectual values.

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Why is this downvoted? –  Bart Gijssens Nov 23 '11 at 13:03
    
@BartGijssens It was a one line answer with a link, which isn't a good answer. But now with Patrick's edit adding in some of the info fro the link, it is better, and I have reversed my vote. If it was a new user maybe I would have done it for him and not downvoted, but he should have known better as to what constitutes a good answer by now. :) –  Matt Rockwell Nov 28 '11 at 15:19

Personally i like green or red.... This indicates nature and healthy. IMO it's depend on the content of the website. Is it a restaurant, fast food restaurant, organic market or a supermarket and which kind of food is sold there.

Some links about this topics:

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Hidden-Secret-on-Logo-Colors,-and-How-They-Affect-Your-Customers&id=124569

http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/branding_and_colors/

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