Ever step back and look at the sheer amount of colors there are available in the design world? We’ve gotten so good at recreating colors in every imaginable form that we’re finding it harder to actually use words to describe them. There are times when I have had clients give me a blank stare as I attempt to inform that the yellow they want to use screams caution and danger instead of warmth and friendliness and that, perhaps, we should think about changing to a different yellow. But then, what is yellow anyway?

Yellow is gaining popularity once again in the west. Nokia’s new Lumia phones – 920, 820 and 620 feature bright, crisp yellow color options. In the design world, too, companies like Marimekko, Vallila, and the Marcus yellow chair from Actona are showing more yellow in their designs.

Do I mean Yellow ochre, Cadmium yellow or maybe Yellow 5? There’s also #FFFF00 and Process yellow and Pantone yellow – not to mention all the hues, shades, tints and tones of the color “yellow.” Despite being such an old color that’s been with us from just about the beginning, it’s remarkable how many different kinds of it there are. Its popularity has fluctuated. It has multitudes of different meanings and feelings associated with it as a result, across the spectrum of “positive” and “negative.” My personal favorite is somewhere between lemon yellow and Pantone yellow.

As a designer, I’m often faced with the interesting task of explaining to our clients things like why their choice of a certain shade of whatever color may not be the best option or is conveying the kind of message or feeling they intended. One of the trickiest parts of visual branding is treading the careful line between expanding your identity and ending up lost in the woods with off-brand material. They trust us to stay current with the emerging trends and shifts in the design so we can give them the best advice and service possible.