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menu design colors

How to Flawlessly Incorporate Colors in Your Menu Design

Studies show that your mind is directly affected by colors. From how you feel and the emotion created, adopting the correct blend of colors with your menu design can have a significant connection to how customers perceive your brand and order items. 

Colors and Ordering Items

The colors you use for your menu design and inside your restaurant go a long way in creating the perfect experience. From creating appetite to improving experiences, the psychology behind menu design and colors are directly linked to your success. 

By understanding what colors complement each other while affecting moods, you can quickly transform your menu design into a work of art! When selecting the perfect combination of colors, you need first to identify what type of experience you are looking to create. 

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1. Lighter Colors; neutral white, cream, off-white, taupe, and light cream

Lighter color combinations are famous for making compact smaller in size rooms larger. Also, lighter colors bring a laid back, relaxing ambiance. For cafes, higher-end restaurants, steakhouses, and bistros, this serene typesetting are ideal.

2. Darker Colors: maroon, chocolate, plum, dark blue, and green


Darker colors are ideal for unique and dreamy settings such as chic restaurants and park bistros. Always remember, though, when using darker colors, don't overdo it. Too many dark colors can create a closed-in crowded feeling.


3. Warmer colors: rose, amber, ceramic, salmon, and red-yellow


Warmer colors bring a level of visual adventure and excitement. If you are looking to keep turnover rates high, consider using warmer colors due to the possibility of brighter colors becoming an irritation for guests viewing for more extended periods of time. You will frequently see warmer colors being used in fast-food restaurants, buffets, and fast-casual locations.


4. Earth color tones: chestnut, green leafy, khaki, tan, and tangerine


Earthy tones are known to create a warm and welcoming feeling. These types of colors typically consist of greens, browns, and tans. Cafe's and coffee shops are using these colors to create a trendy, relaxing feeling. Organic and vegan restaurants are also starting to incorporate this color into your menu design to set to reflect a whole, earthy feel.


5. Pastels: deep-blue, coral, mauve, peach, and mint


Plush and soft, pastel colors with restaurants are used to create a fun yet neutral tone that nicely fits with many furnishings. In the '80s, these colors were used, and now we see a strong comeback of these retro in style colors.


Understanding the Meaning of Each Color

By knowing what color evoke what emotion you can utilize the various combination to create the desired effect. Once you've identified your colors, you will also need to incorporate those into your brand colors, logo, restaurant menu design, and marketing materials to deliver consistent messaging.


Rose, Wine, and Red Shades

Know for action; the red color is known to get the heart pumping, driving hunger. It is also known to help improve turnover rates for the table.


Ideal for:


  • Fast food and fast-casual restaurants


Apricot, Cantelope, and Orange Shades

Restaurants are looking to create a festive environment weave-in shades of orange to create a fun setting. If you serve lots of special desserts and fried foods, orange has a reputation to help people feel better.

Ideal for:


  • Bakeries and ice cream parlors

  • Fast food and casual restaurants



Lemon, Bisque, and Yellow Shades

The various yellow shades are known to have comparable results of orange, a level of pleasure and joy. Bringing high energies to the mood, yellow is not typical for carefree settings.

Ideal for:

  • World flavors restaurants

  • Lounges  

  • Casual dining



Shamrock, Juniper, and Green Shades

The green shades fall nicely in the earth tones category, bringing tranquility and chill to an environment. 

Ideal for:

  • Smoothie and Salad Bars

  • Organic and Vegan Restaurants



Coffee, Hickory, and shades of Brown

Another earth tone, brown shades, add a comfortable, more easy ambiance to a setting. Brown also generates a feeling of security and care, encouraging repeat customers.


Ideal for:


  • Coffee and Cafes Shops

  • Up-to-date restaurants

  • Parlors and pubs



Cobalt, Azure, and Shares of Blue

Stay away! Blue has been proven to aid in losing cravings due to the way light reflects off-color. 

Ideal for:

  • Seafood restaurants

  • Night and dance clubs



Egg Shell, Cream, and Shades of White

Shades of white bring a comfortable, clean look and feel to a setting. White also can aid in making smaller rooms appear larger. 


Ideal for:

  • Cafeteria

  • Banquet and event rooms

  • Smaller sized dining rooms



Coal, Obsidian, and Shades of Black

If used correctly, black can bring out elements of your space's architecture to make a room stand out. Too much black can bring a dark, more depressed feeling.


Ideal for:


  • Nightclubs and bars

  • Late-night restaurants





When selecting your color theme, make sure to start first with your brand. Ensure you understand who you are as a restaurant and what type of mood you're looking to create. Once that is understood, you can then look into defining your colors and incorporating them into your menu design.

Yes, it's nice to go with your favorite colors but remember that the colors you choose will have a direct connection to your restaurant's success!

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