Blue is most people’s favorite color.

By Katie Lundin

As a small business owner or marketer, you should care, because color impacts people’s purchasing decisions. A whopping 92.6% of people surveyed say color is the most important factor when purchasing products, according to a study on the effect of color in sales by the CCI: Institute for Color Research.

Given color’s power overall, and blue’s undeniable popularity, it’s worth taking a deeper look into this shade.

  • Major brands like Ford, American Express, Merrill Lynch, PayPal, AT&T, and Samsung have embraced blue as their featured brand color.
  • A 2016 study found blue to be the most popular shade used in web design.
  • People associate blue with feelings like trust, reliability, and quality.

Over the past decade, over 220,000 designers on crowdspring have helped tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, and agencies around the world with web, graphic, product, and packaging design. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way on how you can harness the power of blue for your business.

The Research

Three studies have revealed blue or blue/green to be the most popular color for both men and women.

Study 1

In  2003 Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist,

conducted a study polling nearly 2000 people. Cohen found that 42% of men and 29% of women chose blue as their favorite color, and green as their second favorite color.

Study 2

Paper merchant GF Smith and Hull, in 2017 UK City of Culture surveyed 30,000 random participants from 100 countries.

Each participant was asked to select their favorite shade using a color slider. The final results revealed a shade of blue/green to be the most popular color.

Study 3

In 2003, researcher Joe Hallock conducted a survey asking people to identify their favorite color and the emotions each color evoked. 42% of respondents cited blue as their favorite color. The participants also associated blue with a wealth of positive attributes, including trustworthiness, high-quality, dependability, reliability, and security.

How to Use Blue in Small Business Design

Is blue right for your brand or your next design project?

The Psychology of Blue

The psychological correlations of color are important. In fact, that’s how crowdspring’s signature shade of blue was chosen. Crowdspring’s CEO, Ross Kimbarovsky, explains:

We believed that the color of our logo should not be left to chance or picked solely because it looked good aesthetically. When we looked at the psychology of color, we learned that blue is the color of honesty, quality, competence, trust, reliability, and integrity. These were all important adjectives that reflected the type of business we wanted to create and our focus group testing, comparing different colors, supported our thinking. As a result, we picked blue and considered a variety of shades of blue before settling on our current color.

If you want to communicate stability, trustworthiness, responsibility, integrity, dependability, calm, or quality… consider choosing a shade of blue to feature in your design.

Here are some suggestions you can try:

  • Choose a brand-appropriate shade of blue for your logo design or for other elements of your company’s brand identity (your business name, logo, and everything visual about your brand).
  • Test blue call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
  • Frame lead generation forms in blue or place them on a blue background to help set user’s minds at ease.
  • Avoid shades of blue if you’re using urgency tactics to drive leads to act quickly.

Establish Industry Affiliation

Certain industries have embraced blue. Banking and finance, travel, communications, medicine, and heavy equipment manufacturing all show a predilection for blue in their brand colors.

Your small business can use these associations to its advantage.

Here’s How:

  • Does your small business belong to any of the industries listed above? If so, lend credibility to your new small business by selecting a brand-appropriate shade of blue for your logo or website design. By “looking the part” customers and clients will be more inclined to trust you.
  • Alternately, you can use industry norms to your advantage by choosing to avoid blues in your brand colors – making your brand stand out. If you go this route, make sure that you still find a way to communicate the important traits (like trust, reliability, and honesty) that blue represents.

Color Theory

There are thousands of different shades and tints of blue – not to mention varying degrees of saturation. From cerulean to periwinkle, navy, aqua, and royal blue… there are plenty of opportunities to find just the right color blue to represent your brand.

Pairing blue with bright, high-contrast colors creates a higher energy look. Monochromatic color palettes and palettes featuring neutrals with blue will create a more soothing effect.

Tints of blue (containing blue mixed with varying degrees of white) are lighter and often cheerful and youthful in appearance.

Shades of blue (combining blue with black) are darker and trend toward a more somber, formal, and mature look.

And be sure to use the colors consistently. As we point out in our comprehensive guide on starting a business, use your brand’s colors in your website visual design and throughout your marketing materials in a way that reflects and complements your brand identity.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Orange, on the opposite side of the color wheel, is the complement of blue. It pops against a blue background – and vice versa.
  • Liven up neutral color palettes featuring white, black, grey, or brown by introducing blue as an accent color. This will give blue extra visual punch as the only color featured in your design. Use blue to draw focus to the important elements you want your audience to notice.
  • Blue is one of the three primary colors – all other colors can be mixed from the original triad of red, blue, and yellow. Shades of these colors are often paired together. Using all three at once can look childish – which is perfect if that’s your goal. If not, avoid a primary color palette.
  • Monochromatic color schemes featuring multiple shades of blue look sophisticated and soothing. If you’re aiming for understated elegance, this is a great option. Combine this with white for ease of reading and functionality.

Sacre Bleu

Is blue the right color for your brand? If you do decide to embrace blue in your branding and marketing design, keep in mind the psychological implications, industry associations, and color theory to get the best possible results.

Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring’s award-winning small business blog.

Shades of blue stock photo by HM Design/Shutterstock