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Blue is the safest colour: inside the logo colour palettes of global industries

Blue logos dominate the majority of sectors

The majority of industries are overrun with blue logos. However retailers, which have historically favoured the eye-catching quality of red, are beginning to experiment with differing shades.

Research from freelance designer platform 99designs revealed blue to be the dominant colour of logos in the accounting, healthcare, technology, real estate and marketing and PR sectors. The company analysed 14,000 of logos from around the world to see how the most popular colours in a sector compare with the desired personality attributes.

Healthcare logos are particularly dominated by the blue family, with the shade appearing in almost 85% of the emblems surveyed. White and green also appeared prominently in the sector.

“This choice makes perfect sense when we consider what customers associate with the colour blue: knowledge, tranquility, security and trust,” said Pamela Webber, chief operating officer of 99designs. “In the stress-filled environment of healthcare, where both wellbeing and finances are vulnerable, blue is tried-and-true way to show your competence.

“Because of its associations with dirt, brown’s unpopularity makes sense — we want our healthcare facilities to be clean and sterile. Yellow and pink, however, are both friendly, welcoming colours, which seem like they would have a place in an industry of care.”

Legal firms tend to favour one dominant colour (usually blue, grey or black) on its own or accompanied by a neutral secondary colour. Real estate businesses have proven themselves to be more colourful, however more than two-thirds of the industry-leading logos in the industry still feature blue.

Accountants also favour blue, black and white, however researchers noted that two of the top firms – PWC and Deloitte – have been successful at bucking the trend with yellows and oranges. Agriculture skews towards the earthy colours of green, brown, yellow and red, while tech brands rely on blue, white, black and red (no other colour appears in more than 12% of logos in the sector).

Red is favoured by big retailers as its eye-catching shade makes it attractive to all vendors; 99designs highlighted the logos of Target, Staples and Macy’s, while Argos, H&M and Iceland are all examples of rouge brands in Europe.

However, researchers noticed a discrepancy between established companies and smaller, newer businesses: the latter requesting logos through 99designs appear more open to all shades and tones.

Reporters attributed this to retails diversity across product and price, while also noting “the recent global growth in smaller niche retailers, where modern store-owners want to venture away from 'crowd-pleasing' colours like red, white and blue”.

Despite fielding expertise in creativity and branding, marketing and PR companies favour blue for their logo design – nearly half (43%) of the logos surveyed feature the tone. Black also proves popular, with 99designs highlighting WPP’s black, serif acronym as one that “presents a no-nonsense, strictly professional approach”.

The platform also noted that Ogilvy’s recent redesign features a “less aggressive red than the one in the past” that “makes them seem younger and more modern”.

“The marketing industry is a bit of a paradox when it comes to marketing logo colors” said Webber. “Many brands want to appear young and modern, but they don’t want their logos to stray too far from the traditional. And considering some of the bigger agencies date back to the 1800s, what you get is a lot of logos modelled on old-fashioned trends but with noticeably modernized upgrades.

“The challenge in choosing the right marketing logo colours, at least today, is to appeal to both sides. Communications brands want the professionalism of yesterday with the dazzling appeal of tomorrow. Logos have to be flashy enough to attract clients, but formal enough to be taken seriously.”

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