5 Takeaway Food Packaging Colors That Build Your Appetite

Varun Baliga

October 11, 2022

What if we told you some colors leave people feeling hungrier than others? Color psychology has a huge role to play in takeaway food packaging and in this blog, we show you how it works!

Building a food brand is no mean feat. In a highly competitive market, with consumers already spoilt for choice, you will need to establish yourself early to stand out over your competition. 

Your best bet? 

Start with the right takeaway food packaging. For any new consumer, it is where a relationship can first be established with your brand. While they work their way through the layers of packaging, you have the opportunity to introduce your brand in your own voice. It is also a great opportunity for you to turn some heads as your packaging makes its way around the city!

It is no wonder, then, that the takeaway food packaging industry today is valued at around $45.5 billion and expected to be valued at around $79.8 by 2032. So, how do you turn your packaging outlay into a marketing investment that reaps rich rewards? 

A large part of the answer lies in the colors you use for your brand, and subsequently, your packaging.

We have previously explored the importance of packaging artwork colors in branding and how color theory can be used to bring the best out of your brand. We’ve also understood how color psychology plays a part in establishing your identity and attracting more consumers to your brand. However, when it comes to food branding in particular, the rules can be slightly different. 

Food packaging comes with unique requirements considering the role it plays in improving the customer experience. The right colors could help you clarify your brand identity and give you the best foundation to build your business. Today, let’s look at the colors most commonly used in takeaway food packaging and how they can help your brand.

Top takeaway food packaging colors for your brand

1. Red

Color psychology: Relates to passion and evokes a sense of hunger and excitement.

Application in food packaging: As you can see, there is an obvious reason why red is one of the most popular colors used in takeaway food packaging. Not only does red ignite a spark of excitement, the color fans the flames of hunger and guarantees your customers are left eager for more!

Red has been the color of choice for some of the biggest food brands in the market, from KFC and Wendy’s to Chick-fil-A and Tim Hortons. If we look at all of their designs above, it is clear that red has been used in combination with white. This is mainly because while red can be quite effective in communication, the design could look a lot more intense than intended. Using white serves to balance the intensity with a sense of calm, making the whole design a lot easier on the eyes.

2. Yellow

Color psychology: Promotes the release of serotonin and stimulates the appetite.

Application in food packaging: When you think of yellow and fast food, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? If your answer is McDonald’s iconic golden arches, then you’re not alone. McDonald’s chose wisely when building their brand and the choice continues to pay off for them and other brands primarily using yellow in their packaging. 

Yellow is a popular choice in takeaway food packaging because your brain is more receptive to yellow than most colors. It’s a color that communicates a sense of optimism and excitement, which works great for fast food brands as it instantly attracts consumers and builds more interest in the brand. Besides McDonald’s, In-n-Out Burger continues to attract consumers with simple red, yellow, and white packaging, while Burger King has also used yellow in their packaging in the past.

3. Orange

Color psychology: Conveys a sense of fun and friendliness.

Application in food packaging: Coming from the same part of the spectrum as red and yellow, orange is just as easy on the eyes and attracts consumers to your brand. It promises a sense of joy and can help you build better relationships with your customers from the moment they set their sights on your packaging.

Keeping this in mind, Burger King evolved their branding to increase the use of orange in their packaging. Their strategic use of the color has made a significant difference to the overall look and feel of the packaging and sets them apart from their competitors. Dunkin Donuts also offers a youthful take on packaging design with a healthy use of the brand’s orange as a part of the design. 

4. Green

Color psychology: Associated with nature and feelings of good health and wellbeing.

Application in food packaging: In an increasingly concretized world, the desire to be surrounded by our natural habitat only grows stronger. The sight of green is what brings us joy unlike any other. This is why we immediately connect this color with everything fresh, wholesome, and natural, and this is why green is the best choice for any food brand that sells healthy and organic products.

Subway conveys this most effectively, with green used predominantly across their takeaway packaging designs. It is one of the main reasons why Subway’s brand has endured as a symbol of freshness and good health. Green is also an integral part of the brand language for Starbucks, who are working towards making their products more sustainable and eco-friendly in recent years.

5. Earthy tones

Color psychology: Communicates warmth and wholesomeness

Application in food packaging: Brown and gray tones radiate a feeling of connection with the world around us. Like green, these colors work well when your food products are sustainable and environment-friendly. Additionally, with most undyed packaging materials produced in shades of brown or gray, using the bare packaging with minimal dyes makes the products more sustainable in the long run.

Paperwise is a prominent example of companies using earthy tones naturally in their designs. As an organization that creates sustainable packaging for food brands, Paperwise designs are mostly created with fewer colors and eco-friendly dyes. The resulting packages look simple, but stand out because of their natural appearance. Thelma’s Treats, a snacks and ice cream brand, also uses packaging with a minimal application of dyes. The designs are smartly built in the shape of miniature ovens that even maintain the temperature of the cookies inside!

Wrapping up

As a food brand, using the right colors in your takeaway packaging can help you define a solid identity that aligns with your values and attracts more consumers to your products. That said, a process paved with complications will pose myriad challenges along the way. From keeping all stakeholders on the same page (literally and figuratively!) to ensuring clarity and consistency in your brand language, you will need all hands on deck and then some. 

To make sure your work on your brand and your takeaway packaging goes right, a little support can go a long way in the end. With Artwork Flow’s extensive suite of artwork management tools, you can streamline creative collaboration, proof artworks in half the time, and optimize your workflows for the best output possible. To know more about how Artwork Flow can help your business, book a demo with our experts today and transform your web-to-shelf workflow.

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