Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The power of color: why are social media logos blue?

I gave a presentation recently at my new residency program about social media, and now I'm revamping it for a local physician group.  As I was tweaking my presentation, I began to realize that the images I had downloaded all featured blue.

Facebook.  Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Blogger.  Myspace.  Digg.

I'd wager that this similarity is no coincidence.  After all, marketers use color every day to subconsciously influence our perceptions of their brands.

My curiosity grew, and I started reading about the power of the color blue.  Here's what I learned:
"Blue appears to be a universally likable color." (1) 
"Blue invokes feelings of authority, expertise, eliteness, calmness and  trust....Blue is the colour of corporate America." (2) 
"Dark blue: trust, dignity, intelligence, authority.   Bright blue:  cleanliness, strength, dependability, coolness.   Light (sky) blue:  peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual, infinity." (3) 
"Blue – Trust, security, peace, open, stability." (4)
Police and military dress uniforms are blue. (5)  Bank of America, Best Buy, Pepsi, Wal-Mart, ING, Ford, Merrill Lynch, Staples (6) - the more I look, the more blue I see.

I wonder if these social media sites settled on blue logos from the get-go, to push a message of authority and dependability even while they were so new?  Or, maybe, one of the first sites chose blue, and it somehow evolved into the universal social media color?  

Regardless of whether your organization wants to have a social media presence, it does; it's up to you who's in charge of it.  Similarly, your website's colors will influence your audience, and it's up to you whether you're in charge of that effect.

When I was setting up this blog, I settled on a neutral color scheme because I wanted my readers' focus on the text.  I never gave color any more thought.  When asked about how to start a blog, my responses never related to color and design.  I see the error of that omission now.

My updated advice to anyone designing a web space is to not neglect the visual appearance of your blog.  At the same time, a snazzy color scheme won't make up for a dearth of content, which is where the bulk of a blogger's energy should go in the long run.  For now, I'm sticking with my black and white.

But, you never know when I might succumb to the blues...

(1) Thanks, Quora:  http://www.quora.com/Why-are-most-social-networking-sites-blue
(2) http://www.tuned-in.com/ColorSpeaks/Blue.aspx
(3) http://www.colormatters.com/blue
(4) http://www.smallfuel.com/blog/entry/marketing-by-color-dont-try-to-sell-blue-potatoes
(5) http://www.evancarmichael.com/Small-Business-Consulting/965/Color-my-World--How-to-Use-Color-Effectively-in-your-Marketing.html
(6) http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/28/colors-in-corporate-branding-and-design/
Interesting round-up of all of the colors: http://www.precisionintermedia.com/color.html

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