Starbucks green. Coke red. McDonald's golden arches.
Color can be a powerful visual branding tool. Color plays on our emotions, and can shape how we feel about the businesses they represent. But the same basic color can be used to tell different brand stories.
Blue is a calming color that makes us feel safe and relaxed. Peace is at the core of blue, but by adjusting how you use it, you can give different reasons for why your client feels peaceful.
Blue is one of the most popular colors to use in visual brands, because of the overwhelmingly positive connotations it has (probably because blue represents water, a life-giving resource). Because of its popularity, using blue to communicate a unique message can be challenging.
Here's how three major brands are using blue well.
Trust is a rare commodity in the social media world, which makes blue a popular choice when the trust of the users is crucial factor in the success of a platform, such as on Twitter.
Turquoise, such as used by Twitter, is a cheerful and friendly shade of blue that pops nicely on white and acts as an accent color that isn't as overwhelming as a red or yellow. Within their interface, Twitter uses blue to create visual hierarchy and nudge you to click calls to actions, such as links, hashtags, and follow buttons.
Twitter does a good job of using their brand blue enough for it to be recognizable, but not overwhelming. Their first priority in their site design is ease of use and clear hierarchy.
For a website focused on keeping up with news and content minute-by-minute, Twitter balances the content's sense of urgency with a friendly and cheerful turquoise that helps you feel peaceful, even when the news in your Twitter feed is anything but.
By the way, you can follow me on Twitter @skellermeyer. Just saying.
I don't think it's coincidence that Walmart's blue is a bit of a generic blue that feels like it was pulled from a child's flashcard.
The medium blue feels uncomplicated and simple, but maintains the trustworthy feeling associated with blues. It makes Walmart feel straightforward and simple, with nothing to hide. What you see is what you get.
To reinforce the friendly, harmless feeling, Walmart pairs their signature blue with a medium yellow that calls attention to price reductions and promotions.
Nothing about the Walmart visual brand feels expensive or sophisticated, and that's exactly what Walmart wants. But in the case of their visual brand, the opposite of expensive isn't cheap - it's simple.
Blue can be more than friendly and simple - Gap uses a rich navy to bring a level of sophistication to their visual brand, while also referencing their signature product: denim.
Gap often uses navy to replace black as a text color. It can go unnoticed if you're not looking for it, but swapping standard black text for navy makes their brand feel softer and earnest.
Gap's navy also has ties to Americana due to it's tie to denim and Gap itself - a classic fixture of American clothing.
The level of sophistication that navy brings to the visual brand attracts higher earning clientele, without alienating those with lower budgets.
A strategic CHOICE
Even though these three brands use blue to create different feelings, all of them use the trustworthy quality of blue to build a noteworthy visual brand.
Twitter uses blue to build a peaceful interface for a fast-paced platform.
Walmart uses blue to build trust and a feeling of value.
Gap uses blue to establish themselves as a classic part of Americana.
Blue may be a popular choice for visual brands, but if used strategically, you can create a noteworthy and trustworthy visual brand from it.
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I'm a brand designer who helps business owners who are tired of their marketing efforts just pulling "okay" results. I help them stand out and be remembered online by designing them a Noteworthy Visual Brand that attract their ideal clients - effortlessly.