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Brown Colors

Earthy shades of brown.

© J. Bear
One square, centered on a background homemade paper.

Brown homemade paper.

Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com
Brown is a natural, down-to-earth neutral color. It is found in earth, wood, and stone.

Shades of Brown: These words are synonymous with or represent various shades of the color brown.

Sienna, bay, sand, wood, dapple, auburn, chestnut, nut-brown, cinnamon, russet, tawny, chocolate, tan, brunette, fawn, liver-colored, mahogany, oak, bronze, terra-cotta, toast, umber, cocoa, coffee, copper, ecru, ginger, hazel, khaki, ochre, puce, snuff-colored.

Nature and Culture of Brown:

Brown is a warm neutral color that can stimulate the appetite. It is found extensively in nature in both living and non-living materials.

Brown represents wholesomeness and earthiness. While it might be considered a little on the dull side, it also represents steadfastness, simplicity, friendliness, dependability, and health. Although blue is the typical corporate color, UPS (United Parcel Service) has built their business around the dependability associated with brown.

Awareness ribbons that use shades of brown include: 

  • Anti-tobacco
  • Colorectal cancer

Other Awareness Ribbon Colors

Using Brown:

The color brown and its lighter cousins in tan, taupe, beige, or cream make excellent backgrounds helping accompanying colors appear richer, brighter. Use brown to convey a feeling of warmth, honesty, and wholesomeness. Although found in nature year-round, brown is often considered a fall and winter color. It is more casual than black.

With Other Colors:

Shades of brown coupled with green are an especially earthy pair, often used to convey the concept of recycling or earth-friendly products. Very dark brown can replace black, adding a slightly warmer tone to some palettes. Brighten brown with a mellow yellow or rusty orange. Go smart but conservative with a mix of brown and deep purple, green, gray, or orange-red.

Brown Color Palettes:

These color palettes feature shades of brown combined with other neutrals as well as red, orange, green, and pink.


In Other Design Fields:




Familiar phrases can help a designer see how their color of choice might be perceived by others, both the positive and negative aspects.

Good brown

  • Brown bottle - beer
  • Brown - cook or burn
Bad brown
  • Brown-nose - someone who attempts to ingratiate themselves with people of authority
  • Brown study - someone who is aloof, indifferent
  • Brown out - partial loss of electricity

What's Your Favorite Color?

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View Results for Your Favorite Color Poll

More Color Meanings

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