The colour of money

I recently noticed that a lot of the digital media apps on my phone have blue icons – think Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Whitepages, WordPress, Foursquare etc.

This preference for azure tones is no coincidence. The internet is dominated by blue brands followed by red.

Take a quick look at the above image and you generally find that, of the icon brands, blue is the choice of IT and new media, while red is popular with news and entertainment sites.

This can be easily explained by psychology and the meaning of colours in design.

Blue portrays creativity, wisdom, gentleness, calmness, trust, loyalty, intelligence, devotion, confidence, comfort, ideas, harmony, friendship, patience etc.

A business can use blue to represent loyalty, confidence and trustworthiness. Most businesses use blue to build customer loyalty and brand reliability.

Red on the other hand shows energy, strength, love, passion, romance, warmth, excitement, blood, desire, enthusiasm, danger, joyousness, speed, courage, prominence, intensity etc. For businesses red can be used for portraying passion, excitement, and attention. Red can bring enthusiasm to your brand.

However, any colour can positively portray what a company wants its brand to represent. So what’s the attraction to blue and red if colours like Yellow, Orange, Purple and Green also bestow traits such as confidence, attraction, vibrancy and passion?

Faced with choosing a brand colour new startups are more likely to imitate successful brands they’re trying to emulate. So it’s no coincidence that they happen to choose the same hues as the dominant players. Some of these probably did the same during their embryonic stages. Others might have totally different reasons for choosing a colour. Mark Zuckerberg was once asked why Facebook was so blue and explained that because of his colour blindness meant blue was the only colour he could see. How many have followed in his wake?

Emulating successful brands has been happening in the corporate world for decades as a way for new companies to be associated with success. It is by no means a key ingredient in the recipe for success especially if the product is sour.

After all the two biggest kids on the online block, Google and MSN have multi coloured logos.

What are your brand colours saying about you? Was there much thinking behind them?

Colour distribution of icon brands

Designing style guides for brands and websites

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