Orange features prominently in both branding and art, but which came first - the colour or the fruit?

Which Came First – the Colour Orange or the Fruit?

As the trees change colour this season, you may wonder which came first – the colour orange or the name of the orange fruit?

The colour has many ties with Autumn. The falling leaves, the Harvest Festival, roaring fires, the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, and of course, Halloween. Orange represents nature, danger, warmth… and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. It’s a complex colour with a colourfully complex history.

The Name of the Fruit Came First

The origin of the word “orange” comes from the Old French term for the ripe fruit: “pomme d’orenge”, or “orange apple.” The word as a colour was named after the fruit,  and first entered the English language in the 16th Century. Until then, “red” was more commonly used to describe what we’d now consider various shades of orange.  Examples include the Red Fox, the Robin Redbreast, Mars (the Red Planet), the Red Squirrel and, of course, Redheads.

After 1688, the colour turned into a political symbol, when the Protestant William of Orange (a principality in the Netherlands) overthrew James II in the Glorious Revolution. Orange became associated with Protestantism in Ireland, and is now a part of their national flag. As the shade of saffron, one of the most expensive spices in history, orange also appears on India’s flag.

The colour orange often has rare and exotic connotations. Saffron is still the costliest jar on the supermarket spice rack. The native Red Squirrel is now under threat in England from the foreign Grey. And redheads, often unfairly mocked for their unusual appearance, were once lauded by Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Rossetti.

The Colour Orange: Which Came First - the Colour or the Fruit?

Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Colour Orange in Branding

Orange is a stand out colour in branding, and is a warmer, subtler alternative to its bolder sibling Red. In colour psychology, the positive meanings of orange include creativity, enthusiasm, and optimism – remember the slogan “the future’s bright, the future’s Orange”?

Often used for autumn events, promotions and sales, the colour also features in national and international branding. Take, for instance, the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, car parts specialist Halfords, or online retailer Amazon. In local branding, the Writers’ Centre Norwich and EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) are notable examples. And the logo for Norfolk based charity Break uses orange with the opposite colour blue, for a popular contrast also seen in the logos of corporate firms Fanta and Aldi. Peels4U recently used orange in embroidered Workwear:

Embroidered Logo Polo Shirt Suffolk Risby Workwear

Peels4U embroidered Polo Shirts for Suffolk based Coopers Cabin

Incorporate orange into your branding for a vibrant way to #GetNoticed. Our Design Consultations use Pantone colours to design an ideal logo or branding for your business to stand out. For special autumn events, promotions or sales, Peels4U offer high quality Posters, Banners, Window Graphics, LeafletsTemporary Signs and more to keep your business in season. Contact Us now or Request a Quote for more information.

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