I know this may be a dumb question, but I am trying to think of a word that doesn't come to me and I need it for a presentation.

The best way I can describe the word is:

A color palette or single color in which a team or organization is represented.

For instance McDonalds will always be gold and red, and Burger King is yellow and red, and then of course is the sport teams. They never change colors.

  • "Branding" comes to mind—"brand colors", "brand identity" etc. – ralph.m Nov 30 '15 at 2:13
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    Team colors?... – deadrat Nov 30 '15 at 2:14
  • Come on deadrat! lol – LOTUSMS Nov 30 '15 at 2:15
  • no @ralph.m, it's more complex than that. BUt you are on the right track – LOTUSMS Nov 30 '15 at 2:16
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    color trademark? – ermanen Nov 30 '15 at 5:01

You can consider the official term color trademark. Although, there isn't any guarantee that there will be any legal rights to the color or colors of a brand. One of the basic principles of color trademark laws in the US is that a functional color cannot be trademarked (e.g. the green color in John Deere).

A colour trade mark (UK spelling) or color trademark (US spelling) is a non-conventional trade mark where at least one colour is used to perform the trade mark function of uniquely identifying the commercial origin of products or services. wikipedia

Here is some relevant information about color branding and trademark rights from colormatters.com:

Even though a TM or ® symbol may appear on a brand's image, it does not mean there are any legal rights to the color or colors.

The TM and ® marks on the Mc Donald's and Starbucks images below means that the company has claimed rights to the image (the symbol or word or combination of both).

enter image description here

enter image description here

A color trademark is different. In this case, the color is the brand. The use of the color in a market sector is protected by trademark. For example, when you see chocolate candy in a purple wrapper, you know it's Cadbury: when you see a turquoise box for jewelry, you know it's from Tiffany & Co.

enter image description here

However, Cadbury's purple is protected by trademark only for chocolate products. Anyone else can use the color purple. For example, Royal Motor Oil and Nexium (pills) use purple in their brand.


Brand colors is the design term for this. Unfortunately, the dictionaries don't seem to have caught up with this usage, but see the UCLA site, as an example: https://brand.ucla.edu/brand/print/brand-colors/

On that page, they also discuss the color palette, which is another relevant term, as well as hero colors. But whenever I talk with designers about color choices, "brand identity" and "brand colors" are the terms that come up again and again.

  • One of the few occasions on ELU where better authority than the dictionaries is invoked. / 'Team colo[u]rs' is the corresponding term in the sports domain, of course. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '15 at 12:08

It is usually called a livery. Per M-W

: the colors or designs that are used on a company's products, vehicles, etc.

  • +1. I like that word and I have a use for it. Not the one I am looking for... Let me explain my situation. I am the Lead Senior UI?UX Engineer for the State of Pennsylvania and I am rebranding the Department of Corrections. I am presenting the new logo to the governor and I don't think I can explain that I chose blue and yellow because they are Pennsylvania's livery, can I? – LOTUSMS Nov 30 '15 at 2:27
  • Then simply "Pennsylvania state colors." See wikipedia – macraf Nov 30 '15 at 2:33
  • If no one can remember or I don't either, I'll have to go with that. I was hoping something more powerful. Tom Wolf is a very refined individual. – LOTUSMS Nov 30 '15 at 2:35
  • Trademark sound very close. Let me get back to you on that – LOTUSMS Nov 30 '15 at 5:08
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    Hi, @macraf, I just approved your edit for the question. You need to put a space between "used" and "on". – user140086 Nov 30 '15 at 11:37

The term "corporate colours" is often used by - well - corporations, and I had to conform to them when I was a label printer ... they were usually tightly defined - as something like "CMYK Pantone 601 + Pantone 4403" and so on.


"Traditional" is often used to describe these color identities, particularly with sports teams. "Here comes Notre Dame in their traditional blue and gold"

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