This is why McDonald's uses red and yellow

McDonald's logo
(Image credit: McDonald's)

The colours red and yellow have many associations, but when it comes to food, these colours tend to be most linked with fast food chains. McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and more all use red and yellow in their branding, but there may be more to it than just a case of one copying the other. 

Karen Haller, behavioural design consultancy owner and colour expert, reveals that red triggers stimulation, appetite and hunger, attracting attention, while yellow triggers feelings of happiness and friendliness. When you combine them together you get speed and quickness, ideas that fast food restaurants want to be associated with. (For more tips on colour, see our piece on colour theory or our how to design a logo guide).

McDonald's logo with a green background

McDonald's goes green (Image credit: McDonald's )

"Yellow is also the most visible colour in daylight, which is why the McDonald's 'M' can be seen from a far distance," explains Haller. 

Haller also notes that things may be changing, slowly, in this space. McDonald's have changed from red to green in some of their stores. "Notice the feeling this gives," says Haller. "Green elicits the feelings of nature, natural and environmentally friendly. It's no longer about rushing in for a quick bite to eat." 

We have yet to see other fast food brands adopt this trend, but we wouldn't be surprised to see similar moves from other brands as customers become more eco-conscious and ideas of fast food start to raise questions – in the way that people are becoming more aware of the downsides of fast fashion, for example. 

For more on this trend, read Karen Haller's blog post.

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is Creative Bloq's Deputy Editor. After beginning her career in journalism in Argentina – where her blogging prowess led her to become Deputy Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires – she moved back to the UK and joined Future Plc in 2016. Since then, she's worked as Operations Editor on art and design magazines, including Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw, and got the 'Apple bug' when working on US title, Mac|Life. In 2018, she left the world of print behind and moved to Creative Bloq, where she helps take care of the daily management of the site, including growing the site's reach through trying to please the Google Gods, getting involved in events, such as judging the Brand Impact Awards, and helping make sure its content serves its readers as best it can. Her interests lie in branding and illustration, tech and sexism, and plenty more in-between.