Could BLUE be your brand colour?
It’s likely you may be thinking of using blue as one of your core brand colours. Why? Because it’s regarded as the world’s favourite colour, certainly in the west – and is the least disliked colour too.
Blue is also seen as the corporate favourite, particularly for men. So let’s take a look at why blue could be the perfect choice to support your brand positioning and personality.
Choosing your brand colours is strategic because you’ll use these colours everyday. When used consistently and well over time, your colours will contribute to your brand stand out, recognition and memorability.
Remember the eye sees colour first – before shapes or words – which is why your choice of brand colours is vital to making a bold visual impact. As I’ve mentioned before, a University of Loyola study indicated that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80% – which is why Pantone insist that ‘colour is the silent ambassador of your brand.’
Before choosing your brand colours, it’s important to work out your brand thinking (the brand strategy piece) first.
The foundation for your Brand Strategy
The core of your brand thinking includes clarifying:
- Who your brand serves – and what they need and want (your target audience)
- Why your brand provides the best solutions for them to buy (your brand value proposition)
- Who your brand is, and what it stands for (your brand personality) – which creates powerful emotional affinity with your target audience
With these strategic foundations in place:
- It’s easier to choose your brand colours with intention and meaning
- Your brand colours will express your brand positioning and personality
- Customers will feel the combination of your brand colour palette, logo and typography is authentic and true to your brand
Let’s take a look at what using blue could mean for your brand…
What’s the meaning of the colour blue?
Blue is the colour of the sea and the sky and intrinsically part of our natural world. We live on the Blue Planet and can thank space travel for kickstarting the environmental movement when we saw our planet from a new perspective.
It’s one of the 3 primary colours on the colour wheel, along with red and yellow. Combining blue with yellow makes green and combining blue with red makes purple.
Colour Psychology and Blue
Described as the colour of the intellect, blue is said to be the colour of the mind and communication. Blue is also perceived as being trustworthy, dependable, safe and reliable.
The essence of blue is calm and cool which is why it’s a popular choice for decorating bathrooms and bedrooms. It’s a colour that creates and supports a mood of relaxation and ‘time-out’.
Every colour has upsides and downsides, and blue is no exception. The downsides of blue take the calm and cool strengths of blue to the extreme, for example:
- Cool can be perceived as emotionally cold and
- Calm could gravitate towards melancholy and ‘feeling blue’
- And of course, there are also ‘blue movies’ – however I’m not quite sure how we get to that link!!!
Names for Blue
There are many evocative names for blue. These include names inspired by nature and by lifestyle:
- Periwinkle, cornflower, hyacinth and iris (flowers)
- Azure, cerulean and ultramarine (sky and sea)
- Sapphire and lapis lazuli (gemstones)
- Cobalt, delft, denim and indigo (pigments and dyes)
- Royal, Prussian, Admiral, Airforce, Navy, Baby and Powder (lifestyle)
The Story of Blue
The French historian Michel Pastoureau tells the fascinating story of Blue in his book ‘The History of a Colour’. He takes us through the centuries and tells the tale of how blue transforms from being unremarked on in ancient Greece to becoming the world’s favourite colour in the last century.
He explains the symbolic and cultural role of blue in the west and uses the example of blue to argue that ‘colour is first and foremost a social phenomenon’. These are some of the key points he makes:
- The Greeks and Romans ignored blue. They had no word to describe it and it appeared in backgrounds only in paintings. Instead they used green to represent the sea and water.
- In the time of the Roman Republic, blue was associated with barbarians in the west – because the Celts and Germans painted their bodies with woad. Blue was also associated with the threat from the east, being popular in Egypt and used in mosaics from Asia.
- This is why the words we use to describe blue derive from German (blau) and the Arabic for sky (azure), instead of having Greek or Latin roots.
- The inexorable rise of blue began in the 11th and 12th centuries when it played a role in spiritual life – being used to paint the robes of the virgin Mary and also to stain the glass windows of cathedrals.
- Later blue was adopted by French royalty – it’s the background for the fleur-de-lys – and blue also became the dominant heraldic colour. From the 18th century onwards, blue came to represent progress, enlightenment, dreams and liberty.
This history of blue has influenced its continuing popularity today. Let’s take a look at some more aspects and cultural symbolism of the colour blue…
Aspects of Blue
There are two blue chakras:
- The colour of the throat chakra is blue. It is said to be responsible for communication, self-expression, and the ability to speak your personal truth.
- Indigo is the colour of the 3rd eye chakra. This is located in the centre of the forehead and linked to perception, awareness, and spiritual communication. When open, your third eye chakra provides wisdom and insight, and deepens your spiritual connections.
Two planets ‘own’ blue in astrology – Jupiter and Uranus:
- Jupiter is larger than life and rules the concerns of the higher mind – justice, truth, freedom, religion and philosophy. Deep blues (along with purple and green) are the colours of Jupiter.
- Uranus is the sky god and is innovative, unexpected, scorning convention and shattering boundaries. Uranus is the rebel. Sky blue and electric blue are said to the colours of Uranus.
From feeling blue to singing the blues, the colour is associated with sadness, melancholy and reflection. Blue is also the name of Joni Mitchell’s iconic album of 1971 – it’s about loss, love and transformation – and considered by many (including me) to be one of the greatest albums by a singer songwriter.
Chosen in contrast to red, which is often associated with war and blood, blue is the deliberate colour choice of the United Nations, Unicef and Unesco – and UN peacekeepers are known as the Blue Helmets (which they wear).
Examples of the brand colour blue
In branding, blue is known as the corporate favourite. Why? Perhaps because it feels serious and trusted, respectable and approachable. Big brands are often called ‘Blue Chip’ businesses. IBM is known as ‘Big Blue’ – the brand guidelines mention being ‘blue at the core’, ‘balancing mankind and machine’; ‘of the world and digital’; ‘useful and judicious’.
Personal Care, Health & Household Products
Unilever is one of many corporate brands tapping into the established ‘trust me’ power of blue. Rivals Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and Reckitt Benckiser also use blue prominently in their branding.
With a few notable exceptions such as Lloyds Bank (green) and Santander (red), the big financial brands favour blue – from PayPal to Barclays, American Express and CitiBank. Could this relate to their masculine management and the popularity of blue amongst men?
Social Media Blue
Mark Zuckerberg told the New Yorker that he chose blue for Facebook branding because he is red / green colour blind, saying “blue is the richest color for me — I can see all of blue. It’s certainly the case that more men than women are colour blind. There’s also an amazing synchronicity with the blue throat chakra and communication!
Client Aetas Partners is a new business in the financial space. Their colours establish trust, communication and intelligence, whilst their Borromean Rings icon conveys their dedication to a collaborative approach with clients and partners. Discover more about Aetas Partners here.
Client Sharon Eden is The Wild Elder – a psychic, spiritual, psychotherapist. Her indigo brand colour is perfectly aligned with the indigo colour of the 3rd eye chakra, enlivened with the flash of orange! Click here to discover more about the work of The Wild Elder.
Blue in summary
When used as your brand colour, blue conveys intelligence, communication and trust. It can also be seen as efficient, serene, logical, cool, reflective and calm.
On the other hand, if not used well, blue could be seen as cold, aloof, lacking emotion or unfriendly. It could remind you of ‘feeling blue’.
Colours that work with blue
Consider these options to include in your brand colour blue palette:
- Oranges are complementary colours to blues. These add sociability, warmth and liveliness.
- Teals and violets are analogous colours with blue tones – they can add sophistication and modernity.
- Red and blue are a powerful combination – often used with white – the flags of the UK, USA and France demonstrate this combination.
- Gold, cream and ivory add extra sophistication and luxury to deepest blues.
- Yellow adds sunshine brightness – IKEA demonstrates how this works.
Choosing your brand colours
Remember that selecting your brand colour palette is a strategic decision. This is why I suggest you take into account:
⭐ The power of individual colours and colour combinations
⭐ Your target customers’ needs, wants and mindset
⭐ The personality, values and purpose of your brand and what makes it different from competitors
Read more: 5 Ways to use Colour to Build your Brand
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