Blue: Color By Definition

color theory blue

The Color Blue

The color blue. Most of us have seen it. It’s in ads, the color of vehicles, your favorite shoes, in nature… even the sky on a nice sunny day. But what does blue mean in graphic design and marketing?

As humans, we are lucky to see in color and be able to associate thoughts and feelings to those colors.

I’m sure many of you have heard the saying “feeling blue”. It is an emotion of blue that basically means to feel sad. Blue can also be calm and soothing, like a blue ocean. And then, the color blue, as an instinct, reminds us of water when we are thirsty.

Blue’s feelings, emotions and instinct reactions can vary depending on the shade, hue, brightness or darkness. Below is a list of feelings that blue has:

Dark blues represent trust, dignity, intelligence and authority. You see dark blues used a lot for banks, lawyers, government organizations and the police.

Light Blue represents peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual and infinity. These meanings come from the aspects of the sky.

Most blues give a sense of trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding. However, in American culture, blue evolved as symbol of depression. “Singing the blues” and “feeling blue” are two examples of the complex color symbolism of blue and how it has evolved in different cultures.

Global Similarities of Blue

  • Blue is the #1 favorite color of all people
  • 53% of the flags in the world contain blue
  • Blue is the most commonly used color in corporate identity
  • A dark blue suit is professional business attire.
  • Blue jeans are worn all over the world.
  • Aristocracy is blue-blooded in all European languages.

Unique Meanings of Blue in Different Cultures

  • Greeks believe that blue wards off “the evil eye”
  • The English “to feel blue” has no equivalent in other languages while in German “blau sein” (literally: to be blue) means to be drunk or in Russian “голубой” (literally: light blue) means to be homosexual.
  • Dark blue is the color of mourning in Korea.
  • The god Krishna has blue skin.
  • Shades of blue are described as shallow or deep instead of light or dark in China.
  • Blue is for a baby girl; pink for a baby boy in Belgium.
  • “Prince Charming” is called “The Blue Prince” in Italy and Spain.

Blue and the Senses

Blue has very few associations with taste or smell. It can act as an appetite suppressant. Weight loss plans suggest putting your food on a blue plate or using a blue light dimmer in your dining room.

The senses are why a lot of dieting companies use blue.

Blue’s Importance in Graphic Design and Marketing

Blue is such a popular favorite color that you could use blue in your designs with very few issues. However, blue can be over-used and may wind up a design cliché if used alone. Using blue with another color, or different hues of blue creates a better “story” for your design.

Just remember what industry you are designing for, and use blue if you need to. Typically, you won’t use blue for for food associated designs. Never force the color blue, and if the client doesn’t like the blue, find another color or different shade or hue of blue that has a similar meaning.

So what does blue mean to you?

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