The world’s love of blue has remained strong since the Middle Ages. Both men and women like it. It’s a symbol of trust, loyalty, and dependability.
The preference people have for blue fascinates me. I do love the shades of blue found in denim, the inkiness of navy and the iconic Tiffany blue. My fascination though comes from the over use of blue especially in industries that want to stand out. Too much of the wrong blue can lack personality and worse still, leave you feeling blue.
There are a number of corporate logos that are predominantly blue – IBM, Merrill Lynch, PayPal, Facebook, Nokia, Dell, Panasonic, HP, Citibank, Twitter, Skype, Deustche Bank, KPMG, GAP, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital, AMP, ANZ, American Express, Samsung, Motorola, INTEL, Lenovo, Phillips, and GE, just to name a few. It’s clear that corporates, especially investment banks and the tech industry, love a blue brand identity.
When planning your corporate identity it’s useful to know that colour plays a role in memory recall as it stimulates all our senses. Colour helps to convey messages - think of red stop signs or red light districts, yellow crossings, and green lights.
Our senses react differently to different shades of blue. If your aim is to be seen, attract interest and differentiate your business, take care which blue you choose and how much of it you use. Too much cool blue can make your material feel pretty icy, almost stand-offish. Not a great idea if you want to attract new business. Cold blues need the comfort of some warmer blues to inject more life. Merrill Lynch’s website shows how to use shades of blue balanced with touches of other colour to keep the mood bright.
The psychology of blue
On the whole, blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible and secure. Its strong association with the sky and sea make it serene and likeable. It evokes stability and inspires trust.
Not all blues are created equal though. A search of the Pantone colour chart reveals 434 colours with the term ‘blue’ in the name.
The Colour Matters’ website offers these meanings on the different shades of blue:
Dark blue: trust, dignity, intelligence, authority
Bright blue: cleanliness, strength, dependability, coolness. These blues take their cue from water.
Light (sky) blue: peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual, infinity. Lighter blues take their meaning from the intangible aspects of the sky.
The flip side of blue is moody - it symbolises depression. An organisation that knows this is Beyond Blue. They help people recognise and manage anxiety and depression. To minimise any feeling of melancholy, their website successfully combines blue with other colours to create a feeling of positivity for web visitors.
Design tips and facts about blue
Did you know Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is colour blind and chose blue for his site design because it was the colour he could see best? This is good to know if you need to cater for people that are red-green colour blind.
- Using blue in your brand identity is a low risk choice
- Too many cool blue shades can make you feel blue
- Add a contrasting colour to your corporate blue for differentiation if all your competitors use blue too
- Combining blue with another colour will create a more creative, stimulating effect
- Mix cool and warm blues for more interest
- Use blue as your base colour and complement it with colour photography
- People are often more productive in blue rooms as the colour encourages reflection
- Blue suppresses appetites, so isn’t great in restaurants
- It’s associated with success, as expressed in the terms ‘blue ribbon’, ‘blue blood’, and ‘blue chip’
A final quote from Raoul Dufy, French Fauvist Painter, 1877-1953:
"Blue is the only colour which maintains its own character in all its tones”.
Maybe that's why it's so popular.