Why are All of the Hospital Logos Blue?

Ever notice that there’s a lot of blue in healthcare? According to 99Designs, over 80% of leading healthcare organizations have predominantly blue logos. To figure out why this is, we’ll take a step back and look at what exactly the color blue does to our brains.

What is Color Psychology?

Our eyes transmit over 10 million bits of data into our brains every second. Our brain takes that data and filters it; only a small amount actually makes it into our consciousness, but that doesn’t mean the rest goes to waste. Much of this data is processed unconsciously, which can result in biases that we aren’t necessarily aware of. For instance, not only can the color of the food we eat can influence its overall taste, but the overall color of our surroundings when we eat it can alter the flavor as well.

So Why Blue?

Blue is the color of peace. Water is blue. I like the color blue because it just puts me at peace. The patriotic symbol is blue. I just like blue. – Antonio Brown

What do you think of when you see the color blue? The sky? The ocean? Blueberries? It’s got a lot of calming associations. This goes even deeper though. Blue is most commonly associated with attributes such as intelligence, communication, logic, trust, duty, reflection, coolness, calm.

Contrast this with red, which communicates: physical courage, ‘fight or flight’, strength, energy, warmth, primitive survival, stimulation, excitement.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want my hospital logo encouraging a “fight or flight” response in patients. Intelligence, trust, and calm seem like a much better message.

Does this mean that all healthcare logos should be blue? Is that 20% of non-blue logos at a disadvantage? Not necessarily. While color can elicit strong emotions, that doesn’t mean that blue is always going to be right for your organization. Green communicates peace and tranquility, yellow shows optimism and confidence. Your color palette should speak to your audience. While you may want to communicate all of the features of blue, it might be better to emphasize something that stands out a little more in your branding.

Ultimately, blue is chosen because of the message it conveys (and also maybe because it’s the world’s most common favorite color), but that doesn’t make it a one size fits all solution. Blue can also portray you as cold and detached. If you’re designing for a children’s hospital, you may want to include warmer, more excitable colors such as orange and yellow to offset that.

While it’s important to stand out, keep in mind what your logo is unconsciously telling your audience and use that to create fresh and innovative designs for your organization!