Why Classic Blue Is Advertising’s Go-To In These Chaotic Times

Why Classic Blue Is Advertising’s Go-To In These Chaotic Times
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Today B&T’s talking colour. And more so, colours that attract consumers. And who better to do that than Petra O’Halloran (pictured below), creative research project manager at Getty Images & iStock who takes a look at 2020’s dominant colour…

Blue is the colour. At least that’s what Pantone told us when they selected Classic Blue as their colour for 2020. Pantone said it’s a reflection of the times and public sentiment, offering reassurance and instilling calm, confidence and connection.

While this might not seem very controversial, Pantone’s selection of Classic Blue for 2020 is not without detractors. As one opinion writer wrote: “I’m not offended by ‘Classic Blue’, but I’m offended that Pantone has assigned it the vitally important role of ushering in a new decade, particularly one that follows a decade as tumultuous as the 2010s. Classic Blue feels aggressively 1997. Classic Blue is the color equivalent of watching Friends.” Ouch.

I can’t help but take a different view. With 2020 beginning with bushfires ravaging Australia, intense flooding and now, a fast-spreading virus – could it be that Pantone has in fact tapped into our milieu?

Coming into 2020, many of us are reflecting on the turbulent past decade whilst searching for answers, stability and strength in unstable and chaotic times. Classic Blue has a reflective quality, at a time when we do need to look inward and question what’s going on in our world and how we can do better. It speaks to depth, mystery and pensiveness.

Beyond this, Getty Images has already started to see an evolution in how Classic Blue is used in our industry. As recently as four to five years ago, there tended to be more of an icy, clean, crispness to imagery using Classic Blue. The colour was used to suggest professionalism and stability – particularly in the financial industry, but also across the pharmaceutical and medical sectors too. But this started to change, with warmer colours becoming more prevalent.

Last year, I started to notice a trend of using Classic Blue to make those warmer tones and richer shadows pop, particularly in the finance space. Instead of creating a cool blue cast over the entire image, Classic Blue was being used more strategically to give depth, richness and gravitas, allowing warmth to shine through in skin tones in contrast.

So maybe Pantone hasn’t got it as wrong as some may think. Used mostly as a supplementary colour, Classic Blue has been doing a fantastic job of amplifying human warmth – something that many think we need more of as we head into a new decade. It’s increasingly used to convey collaboration, friendliness and care. This again feels incredibly relevant at a time when many institutions are looking to rebuild trust with clients.

If current trends continue to hold, in the industry and more broadly, I expect to see Classic Blue become even more prominent in the coming decade. As people search for a sense of authenticity, human connection, trust and warmth in turbulent times, blue increasingly IS the colour we need for 2020.

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Getty Images & iStock Petra O’Halloran

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