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Posted on Categories Branding, DesignTags

I love the color orange.

It sounds kind of silly to say that out loud. Kind of like something you’d say on your first day of kindergarten during that “getting to know you” part of morning circle. But, orange is such a big part of my life. So much so that I consider it to be my personal brand color. I own numerous orange watches, bags, coats, shirts, socks, underwear(!), upholstered chairs, pillows, candlesticks and blankets; and way too many orange pairs of shoes. I even used orange penny tile to cover a wall in my bathroom when I remodeled my home a few years ago. If it’s orange, chances are I bought it or have considered buying it. 

In my opinion, the world has never seen a more perfect combination of two things – in this case, red and yellow – except for the blissful union of peanut butter and chocolate sold in an orange wrapper (Thanks, Reese’s!), but I’ll save that for another day. Orange is strongly associated with creativity, and I am also drawn to its vibrancy, warmth, energy, happiness and positivity. After all, everyone can use some light in their lives.

I did a little research on the psychology of the color orange and what it means to have an “orange personality.” I found that people who have an orange personality are, “adventurers who need to be physically active. [They] are attracted to outdoor life, and [they] take pleasure in challenging [themselves] and have a competitive soul.” That’s affirmative on all fronts. I have had five knee surgeries and have two artificial knees to prove it. It also says orange personalities are spontaneous, which I found hilarious because I don’t consider myself to be. Except when it comes to buying orange items, perhaps. The most surprising thing I found was that orange lovers are, “natural extrovert[s] who [need] constant social contact.” I am, in fact, a card-carrying introvert who prefers to fish and mountain bike alone. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

There were negative associations with the color orange, as well. An orange personality may be, “too self-confident and enthusiastic, and come across as arrogant, prideful or exhibitionist.” One can also be, “a loud talker and outspoken at times.” Wow, it’s like whoever wrote that might…actually…know me. And this one made me laugh: “It can convey a lack of serious intellectual values and awful taste.” Maybe so, but I am very confident my orange-penny-tile-covered-bathroom-wall looks fantastic. And ultimately, I think it’s a skill to know when it works, when it doesn’t, or is just too much.

After spending decades weighing color selections for design and branding purposes, orange still surfaces as a contender because of its versatility and because it pairs well with a wide spectrum of colors. It can simply be the accent of a design or the whole, bold message. It can warm up a cool powder blue, push a warm palette of reds, yellows and magentas, bring life to a delicious brown – see Reese’s above – and add a contemporary flair to something utilitarian, like gray or army green. Ultimately, however, its use all comes down to context and balance. As much as I love it, I wouldn’t want to paint rooms of my home orange or drive an orange car.

I’ve heard it said that orange is the second least favorite color, only behind brown. While that comes as a surprise, it doesn’t change anything for me. After all, everyone loves an underdog, right? I concede it’s a hue of polarizing opinions – an enigma you either love with all your heart or hate with all your soul. Even so, I’ve found most people respond well to it. I’ve received positive comments about the orange items I own more than anything else. (Come to think of it, the same holds true for the orange palettes I’ve branded companies with, too.) Coco Chanel was on to something when she said, “The best color in the whole wide world is the one that looks good on you.” And orange always looks good.

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Avatar photoTo Doug, inspiration is life, an energy, something you can breathe in and ingest – more sustaining than the finest caffeinated, gluten-free, protein-packed, responsibly-sourced substance on earth. Doug's true passion is helping non-profits inspire change through strategic design.