pale blue


fresh blues

Color trends, even in fashion or interior design, have an impact on graphic design, so I always keep up with the Color of the Year announcements by color-related companies. Paint company Benjamin Moore is calling a pale blue—Breath of Fresh Air—its 2014 color of the year.

Many of Benny Moore’s pics of this color and the rest of their 2014 palette are displayed in a Martha Stewart-like environment. Makes me think of New England beach houses with ketchup-free kids and a blond lab just back from the groomer (prior to rolling in dead fish). In real, functional homes, this color and many other pastels are ethereal, and not entirely livable. It’s sort of like that white-jean trend; it sends a clear message that you don’t interact much with dirt, chocolate, or bike grease. I can’t relate.

However, I do like pale blues for graphic design, because a designer can control and edit what’s on the page or screen better than we can in a home environment. Besides evoking air and sky, these pale hues, even when solid, can look transparent, watery or glassy.

I used this color in the Mighty Chocolate Mini-Donuts corporate identity palette, seen on the back of the business card. Blue is not a color often used with food, and for good reason, as it is perceived as artificial (popsicles, candy, energy drinks) and unfood-like. Even “blue” foods like blueberries and blue corn are closer to an edible purple than true blue or cyan.

But Mighty Chocolate’s owner really liked aqua blues, and though I ask clients to ignore their particular preferences (because it’s irrelevant to the customer, can communicate the wrong association), she also wanted the identity to show off her product’s out-of-the-ordinary qualities. I thought blue could play an accent role, complementing the signature, punchy orange, and also evoking the blue sky one associates with summer fairs where the mini-donuts would be sold. It also sends a subtle message of freshness. Other mini-donuts identities seem to use a lot of yellow, which looks cholesterol-laden and, well, gross in comparison to my client’s fresh palette.

There does seems to be an overall trend toward “lightening up” and freshness on the color horizon.  And I think blues will start to take a bit of the role that greens have had for the past decade in evoking nature or saying “Earth-friendly.”