Official Sign Colors – What Colors Signify In Signage

Official Sign Colors – What Colors Signify In Signage

You may know that red is stop, green is go and yellow is proceed with caution.  But did you also know that official signs are always specific colors.  Consciously or subconsciously, we recognize that yellow means caution and red means warning.   If you understand the colors and how they are used in official government and municipal signs, you can determine what these color schemes may do when used in your signage program.

Color is always an important component of branding.  That’s why large companies are so particular about their image and use of their logo and colors.  Most companies will identify their brand color with a PMS (Pantone Matching System) shade.  This way, their color will be consistently the same shade, regardless of the media.

Sign Color Meaning

Sign color meaning is a critical aspect of visual communication and branding. Colors help convey messages and induce emotions, making them an essential component of signs. Each color has a different meaning and impacts how the viewer perceives the message being communicated. Usually, red is often associated with danger or warning signs, while blue is commonly linked to calming and peaceful messages. Yellow is often associated with caution, green with safety, and black with death or seriousness. 

Here are the official color meaning that are used in signs across the United States:

Red – Used for STOP signs and YIELD signs, multiway supplemental plates, DO NOT ENTER and WRONG WAY signs, for legend symbols on some regulatory signs, and as part of interstate and some state route markers.

Fluorescent Pink – used as background color for incident sign management signs.

Coral- reserved for later use.

Orange – temporary traffic control signage.Yellow – background color for warning signs (except temporary signs) and school signs.

Fluorescent Yellow/Green – used as background color for pedestrian, bicycle and school warning signs.Green -used as background color for guide and information signs, and for legend on permissive regulation and parking signs

Light Blue – reserved for future use.Blue – used as background color for traveler services, information signs, emergency evacuation route signs, and as part of interstate and some state route markers

Purple- reserved for future use.

Brown – used as background color for guide and information signs related to points of recreation or cultural interest.

Black – used as background color for ONE WAY, night speed limit and truck regulatory signs, and also as legend color on signs with white, yellow, orange, flourescent pink, and flourescent yellow-green backgrounds.

White – used as background color for most regulatory signs and some route markers as legend color on signs with red, green, blue, brown and black backgrounds.

How do  you use colors to identify your brand?  Are you consistent with using the same color in all of your materials?


Colors of Signs

Colors of signs are crucial when designing signs. It’s critical to consider the colors you use and the context in which they will be displayed. The psychological impact of colors is also relevant to consider. A bright red sign might capture the attention and evoke an immediate response, but might also cause anxiety or stress. 

Understanding the color meanings and how they influence perception can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of communication. Color combination is essential to consider when designing signs. Paying attention to detail in color choice and pairing can significantly impact the overall effectiveness of a sign and ensure that it conveys the intended message accurately. In summary, signage color meaning is a critical element of visual communication and should be carefully considered and curated to ensure the intended message is conveyed effectively.