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Digital's royal blue

The web picked its favorite color when it very first started and took the plunge into an “ocean” of true blue... The major social networks and most of the most popular websites adopted this color. What caused such a craze? It’s no surprise according to color psychology specialists, but things are changing and other colors are upping the ante on our screens...

The most important social networks all chose blue like their historic ancestor, MySpace, which also featured a blue logo. At this point, how can one imagine this could be but a simple coincidence?


Karen Haller, a British expert in color psychology and consultant to many brands, sees nothing surprising in this strategy. According to her, blue is the ultimate color of communication. Psychologically, blue evokes trust, serenity, security, reflection. Positive values that correspond perfectly to very young, innovative companies, concerned with reassuring their users confronted with technological revolutions of an unprecedented scale. In addition, blue is also the most popular color in the world, used in all cultures — a weighty argument for social networks with global ambitions... The negative aspects of this cold color, which might appear somewhat distant, are swiftly erased by its objective advantages: blue provides the perfect contrast on screens, and in addition, is the default color for text selection on any computer...


Historically, blue pigment was one of the most expensive to produce and was therefore reserved for the privileged few. Historian and novelist Marina Warner* explains that its production from crushed lapis lazuli made it the preserve of the aristocratic elite. 

From the 12th century onwards, religious medieval painters dressed the Virgin Mary in celestial blue, a sacred color believed to have magical powers. A few centuries later, the digital gods were not mistaken... The founder of Facebook states that blue is his favorite color and cites this preference as the only reason for the choice of logo. But even Mark Zuckerberg is not immune to color psychology.


Today, the historical titans of the digital world are being shaken up by the new kids on the web block and there is not much blue on the horizon in this regard... The new generation is playing the differentiation card. Yellow for Snapchat, green for WhatsApp, red for YouTube and Pinterest, multicolored for Instagram... Over and above the desire to stand out and to target a younger audience with different codes, a new and deep-seated break with the past is taking place, driven by mobile internet. The presence of blue all over the place was not a big problem on the computer screens, where the logo mainly appeared in a browser tab. The stakes are complete different on a smartphone screen, where app logos are in direct competition and absolutely must stand out. So even if blue remains the king of digital, it has never been associated with the idea of originality or innovation. New color territories therefore remain to be conquered...

By Anne-Marie Clerc

*Marina Warner « Alone of All Her Sex: The myth and the cult of the Virgin Mary ».









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