The Colour Brown and its Effect
The etymology of the word “brown” is rooted in the Old English term “brún,” which was used to describe any dark or dusky hue. It is believed that the Common Germanic adjectives *brûnoz and *brûnâ, which denoted both deep colours and a lustrous or gleaming appearance, may have played a significant role in determining the name. In fact, the first recorded instance of “brown” as a colour identifier in English dates back to the year 1000. It is worth marking that there are no universally recognized terms for the diverse array of brown shades, and a particular hue may be referred to differently depending on the context.
The colour brown has long been recognized as a symbol of warmth, stability, and dependability. Brown is also often associated with earthiness, naturalness, and comfort. This humble hue evokes a sense of nostalgia and reminds us of the enduring connections we have with our home, family, and the earth itself.
The changing colours of leaves during fall and autumn, as well as the bountiful harvest season, are commonly associated with brown, and it has become a popular colour for Thanksgiving-related imagery. In marketing, brown is frequently associated with reliability, dependability, and nurturance and has become a go-to colour for brands that wish to convey a sense of trustworthiness and stability to their customers.
While brown is often described as natural, down-to-earth, and conventional, it can also be sophisticated and elegant, especially when paired with complementary colours. The versatility of brown makes it a highly adaptable colour that can be used to convey a wide range of emotions and moods, depending on the framework in which it is used
Brown and its Meaning in Colour Psychology
In the realm of colour psychology, brown, like most other hues, carries both positive and negative connotations. On the positive side, brown is often linked to traits such as strength, reliability, resilience, dependability, security, and safety. This is because brown, much like the earth, is seen as a solid and stable colour. On the other hand, when presented in large amounts, brown can evoke feelings of loneliness, sadness, and isolation. In such cases, it may appear vast, stark, and empty, resembling a barren desert void of life.
Despite its association with negative emotions, brown can also elicit warm and comforting feelings of security and familiarity. It is often regarded as a natural, down-to-earth, conventional colour that exudes sophistication and elegance in specific contexts.
The Colour Brown and its Use in History
The use of the colour brown in art goes all the way back to prehistoric times, when natural clay pigment, specifically umber, was used to create paintings of animals and figures in caves. In ancient Egypt, brown was used to depict the skin of female figures, while the Greeks and Romans used reddish-brown ink made from cuttlefish during the Renaissance. However, during the Middle Ages, brown was associated with poverty, with the lower classes expected to wear brown clothing. Interestingly, brown robes were worn by monks of the Franciscan order as a symbol of humility.
The Renaissance saw greater use of browns in art, with artists utilizing four different browns - raw umber, burnt umber, burnt sienna, and raw sienna. During the 17th and 18th centuries, famous artists used brown to create chiaroscuro effects. Conversely, the French impressionists of the 19th century did not prefer the colour brown, except for Paul Gauguin, who used it in his portraits of French Polynesia.
In the 20th century, brown became a symbol of simplicity, naturalness, and health. Brown paper bags and packages were used for their inexpensive and plain nature. Overall, the history of brown in art and culture spans thousands of years, with its meaning and significance evolving over time
The Colour Brown and its Use in Companies
Brown has been used effectively by well-known companies such as UPS, Hershey’s, and Sephora to communicate their identity and mission. Let us see how the colour brown aided these businesses in effectively communicating their identity and mission.
For decades, The United Parcel Service has been known for its brown delivery trucks and uniforms. At one point, UPS even had a tagline that explicitly identified themselves with the colour brown: “What can brown do for you?” This blatant use of brown clearly declares what UPS tries to communicate: timeliness, reliability, and order
The significance of the colour brown in Hershey’s branding is that it represents sophistication, stability, dependability, strength, reliability, resilience, loneliness, and sadness. The deep, warm brown colours used in the Hershey logo are intended to convey a sense of minimalism, luxury, and sophistication. Brown is also associated with chocolate, which is the main product of Hershey’s, thereby making it an apt choice in multiple ways.
Different Variation of Brown Colour
Brown Colour Variations
Leather, earthy designs
Natural, rustic designs
Chocolate packaging, coffee shops
Neutral backgrounds, minimalist designs
Fashion, interior design
Hair coloring, fashion
Rustic designs, autumn themes
Outdoor designs, tree bark
Spices, bakery items
Coffee packaging, cafes
Autumn leaves, wheat fields
Beach themes, desert designs
Landscape painting, art supplies
Vintage designs, old photographs
Southwestern designs, textiles
Animal fur, outdoor designs
Natural landscapes, soil
Colours that go well with Brown (with Examples)
Brown is a versatile and warm colour that pairs well with a range of other hues. From muted pastels to rich jewel tones, there are many colours that complement brown beautifully. Finding the right colour combination can create a harmonious and inviting aesthetic in home decor, fashion, and graphic design
Brown & Cream/Beige
The fusion of brown and cream/beige is a harmonious blend of colours that evokes emotions of warmth, comfort, calmness, and elegance. While brown is associated with stability and dependability, cream/beige is linked to simplicity and sophistication. The seamless amalgamation of these hues creates an inviting and cosy ambience, suitable for various design projects ranging from home décor to clothing and graphics. The hex code for brown, #381216, and cream/beige, #F5F5DC can be used in various design projects.
- Living room design: Brown and beige are warm and inviting colours that can create a cosy and comfortable atmosphere in a living room. These neutral colours can be used for the walls, furniture, and accessories to create a cohesive and harmonious look.
- Graphic design: Brown and beige can be used in graphic design to create a vintage or retro look. They can be used for backgrounds, text, and illustrations to create a nostalgic feel.
- Fashion design: Brown and beige are classic colours that can be used in fashion design to create timeless and elegant looks. Clothing, accessories, and shoe designs with brown and cream/beige are the key to a sophisticated and refined style
Brown & Green
The harmonious pairing of brown and green, specifically forest green and olive green, imparts a distinct impression and versatility in its usage. Forest green exudes a connection to nature, growth, and steadfastness, while olive green conveys peace, harmony, and equilibrium. Brown can be paired with forest green (hex code #0B6623) or olive green (hex code #3C341E21) to create a natural, earthy colour scheme and can be used in some interesting design projects.
Nature-inspired designs: Brown and green are colours that are commonly found in nature, so they can be used in designs that are inspired by the outdoors. This could include designs for camping gear, hiking equipment, or outdoor clothing.
- Interior design: Brown and green can be used in interior design to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere. They can be used for walls, furniture, and accessories to create a natural and organic look.
- Fashion design: Brown and green can be used in fashion design to create a rustic and natural look. They can be used for clothing, accessories, and shoes to create a down-to-earth and authentic style.
- Web design: Brown and green can be used in web design to create a website that is focused on sustainability, nature, or the environment. They can be used for backgrounds, buttons, and icons to create a website that is visually appealing and environmentally conscious
Brown & Gray
The blend of brown and grey hues presents an excellent fusion, considering the impression each colour emanates and where it can be utilized. While brown conveys warmth, comfort, and stability, grey evokes neutrality, sophistication, and elegance. With hex codes #381216 and #80808012, the combination of brown and grey creates a cosy yet refined atmosphere and timeless colour scheme. Here are some design projects that would benefit from using these colours:
- Logo design: Brown and grey can create a professional and elegant look. They can be used for text, graphics, and backgrounds to create a memorable and stylish logo.
- Interior design: Brown and grey can be used in interior design to create a modern and minimalist look. They can be used for walls, floors, and furniture to create a sleek and sophisticated atmosphere.
- Web design: Brown and grey can be used in web design to create a website that is focused on luxury or high-end products. They can be used for backgrounds, buttons, and icons to create a website that is visually appealing and professional.
- Fashion design: Brown and grey can be used in fashion design to create a classic and timeless look. They can be used for clothing, accessories, and shoes to create a sophisticated and refined style
Brown & Black
The fusion of brown and black is an aesthetically pleasing combination that can effortlessly convey warmth, elegance, and power. With its association with comfort and stability, brown blends effortlessly with black’s sophistication, refinement, and dominance. Brown (Hex code #A52A2A) and black (Hex code #0000001) can be used together to create a bold and dramatic colour scheme. Here are some design projects that would benefit from using these colours:
Logo design: Brown and black can create a sleek and modern look. They can be used for text, graphics, and backgrounds to create a memorable and stylish logo. The edgy combination works well as a colour palette for tech branding.
Fashion design: Brown and black can be used in fashion design to create a sophisticated and edgy look. They can make a bold and dramatic style for clothing, accessories, and shoes.
Interior design: Brown and black can be used in interior design to create a modern and minimalist look. They can be used for walls, floors, and furniture to create a sleek and sophisticated atmosphere.
Web design: Brown and black can be used in web design to create a website that is focused on luxury or high-end products. They can be used for backgrounds, buttons, and icons to create a website that is visually appealing and professional
Brown & Yellow
Brown and yellow are warm colours that can create a friendly and approachable image. They are natural colours that can be used to create an earthy and authentic image for a brand. The colour palette can connect with nature and the environment, which can appeal to customers who value sustainability and eco-friendliness. Brown (hex code: #964B00) and yellow (hex code: #FEE715FF) can be used together to create a warm and inviting colour scheme. Here are some design projects that would benefit from using these colours:
- Home decor: Brown and yellow can be used to create a cosy and comfortable atmosphere. They can be used for walls, furniture, and accessories for a warm and inviting touch, making for the perfect summer colour palette.
- Fashion design: Brown and yellow can be used in fashion design to create a natural and earthy look. They can be used for clothing, accessories, and shoes to create a down-to-earth and authentic style.
- Branding: Brown and yellow can be used to create a warm and inviting image. They can be used for logos, packaging, and marketing materials to create a friendly and approachable brand