A Study in Blue – And Pantone Classic Blue
Everybody gets the blues. While the phrase often implies feeling low, lonely and depressed, the use and psychological effect of this versatile colour are as varied as its shades, tints and hues.
Teal, turquoise, azure, cerulean, sky blue, baby blue, ultramarine, some shade of blue is everyone’s favourite colour. Blue can be calm, spiritual and non-threatening – and lower your heart rate. It’s one reason why we commonly find in medical facilities and yoga studios. Blue can also be strong, stormy, energetic and powerful. Substantial, stable, secure, orderly, conservative, traditional, reliable.
Colour and its effect on behaviour have long been a topic of conversation and study for architects, designers, clothiers, retailers, manufacturers and psychologists. Context and the exact shade matters. Perceptions are ‘coloured’ by culture, gender, environment and even light. It defines both design and consumerism. And one of its most prevalent uses is in branding, like these from our clients.
I’ve seen many brand identities designed using a hue based on nothing but personal taste. But choosing the right colour to manage people’s perceptions about your brand is very much about personality and appropriateness to the product. Broad statements such as “green is calm” are misleading at best, yet frequently used by logo designers in support of their choices. And while jumping on colour trends is great for seasonal clothing or lipstick, it doesn’t fit the science when it comes to branding.
Products like shoes, clothing, nail polish, paint and even a tea flavour picked up on the Pantone Colour of the Year trend. And this year, brands like GM, Visa, Facebook, PayPal and Intel that had been built on ‘Classic Blue’, or some version of it, had an opportunity to relate it to their brands. But these brands were using the colour long before 2020. They didn’t jump on the bandwagon and follow the trend. Nor did we find others who had.
Think about it. Would you still feel the same about trusting Visa with your credit information, or buying a truck from GM if their logo colour was Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral?
Classic blue would make a perfect choice for many brands to hang their hat on – but not because it’s the Pantone Colour of the Year. Trends are short-lived and trendy colours are great for short-lived applications.
As a brander, marketer and designer, I’ll stick to the psychology and science.