The Emotion of Color: Brown

Brown is all about stability.  Why does UPS use brown? It makes them feel dependable.  In psychology brown is what stays under your feet. It doesn’t move, it doesn’t change.  There’s power in brown if used right.

Brown’s Emotional Effect
Brown has a calming effect on a subliminal level so if you’re trying to excite a customer, this probably isn’t the color for your brochure or logo.  If you want a boost in creating trust, however, this is a great option to consider.

Keep in mind not all browns are created equal.  A moderately dark brown will have more ‘trust’ effect than an especially light tan.

Mixing Brown with Other Colors
Brown is a combination of red and yellow with just enough blue to muddle things.  So when choosing colors to go with your brown, consider blues to soften the yellow or greens to compliment a redder brown.  There’s a reason why trees, all brown with green, feel ‘right’ in our minds.

When matching brown with other colors, keep in mind gradation.  A dark brown with a dark green may lack enough contrast for when a logo is copied or scanned into black and white.  Even in color, a design should stand up to being turned into a black and white image.


Designer Challenge: Find three brown designs that appeal to you and put them in a book to reference the next time you’re looking for colors that give the right emotional pull.

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