Feeling Blue: To Design or Not to Design With Blue
There is a lot to be said about the color blue. To start off, let’s define the color blue. Blue is the color between purple and green. Human eyes can see the color blue when observing light with a wavelength between 450 and 495 nanometers. Blue is one of the primary pigments and along with red and yellow, it is a hue that can’t be created by mixing other pigments. Blue is also a primary color in the RBG (red, green and blue) formula. This additive light formula is used to create colors for web and TV screens. Blue is a natural color, the sky and the sea are referred to as blue, but the sky and the sea actually only appear blue because of an optical effect called Rayleigh scattering. Rayleigh scattering happens when sunlight passes through the atmosphere, and the blue wavelengths are more widely scattered by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, so more blue comes to our eyes; Thus we see the color blue.
Blue is a very popular color, in fact it is the most common favorite color among all people. The color blue has been used for art, decoration and as a clothing dye since ancient times. These days blue is the most commonly used color in corporate identity. Take a moment to think about it; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, General Motors, Ford and many more are all branded with the color blue. Even in the sport world, blue seems to be what appeals to people the most, around 50% of all Major League Baseball’s 30 teams use the color blue as a team color. As if that wasn’t enough blue in the world, did you know that 53% of the flags in the world contain blue?
Is it that blue’s popularity makes the color a safe choice? Can’t go wrong there? Or is it clichéd to use blue in your design or branding? Well, this is how I see it; blue is a very casual color—it is known for its calming attributes, often said to signal tranquility, peace, and reliability. If that is what you are looking to signal, then go for it—go blue!
Picking the color blue for your brand does come with less risk. Blue is known to be the most popular color among both men and woman all over the world, therefore picking blue is safe, since most people will like it. But one drawback is your blue logo might not stand out among all the other blue and trustworthy-looking logos. Color plays a huge role in memory recall by stimulating all the senses and communicating instantly with your brain. For example, if I say Home Depot, you say? (orange) and if I say Levis, you say? (red) but if I say Ford you say…blue? Blue doesn’t quite have the same memorability factor. Many colors tend to have strong associations with certain types of products, for example, the color green is often used in healthy and natural products. So using green for a brand that doesn’t deal with those types of products might be confusing. If Twitter was using red or green instead of their friendly blue, the associations people make with the logo would be completely different.
If you are the play it safe kind of person, blue might be the way to go, but if you’re feeling risky and are ready to put your brand on the map, then go bold(er)! Hang in there if you’re not feeling blue, there are plenty more colors to consider.