An exploration of the meaning and connotations of the color black in culture and business.
When something is the new black, we understand that it is a new trend, a new staple. Yet the sophistication of black may well never fade: between black-tie affairs and the black robes of lawyers and judges, black indicates respectable status and power. It is sleek and stylish, yet holds an air of mystery: Johnny Cash was known as “the Man in Black,” generally performing in all black clothing. Coco Chanel is known for her “little black dress,” introduced first in 1926.
Black also holds more foreboding connotations. The black of nighttime and darkness can be ominous, and black cats are a bad sign for the superstitious (except in Japan and Great Britain, where black cats are considered to be good luck). Black is the Western color of mourning and black comedy attempts to comically lighten up tragedy. A black sheep is the disgraceful member of a respectable group.
Not always dismal though, the color black will always be considered classy and professional. Tuxedos and limousines, musicians in the orchestra pit dressed in black, these are all indicators of elegant refinement.
For brands, black can evoke seriousness, distinctiveness, boldness – and of course, sophistication. For example, booz&co, one of the top consulting firms in the world, uses an all black logo to connote the seriousness and professionalism with which they conduct their business. Whether B2B or B2C, companies that incorporate black into their brand identity are making a powerful statement.
As strategists and designers, we are always curious about the use of color in culture and business. Recently, we took a look at brand colors in the top 100 technology firms. While the range of colors and combinations is varied, we noted a few intriguing themes.
For tech company colors, blue is always true
Blue: the most common color in financial services. A look at fifty top financial services brands found almost half had blue logos and another seven had blue elements in their logos. We weren’t too surprised with this result: blue is actually a great color. As we examined in our last Color Series post, blue…
Green: it signifies American cash, it refers to being ecologically conscious, and green means go. It is a natural color, of grass and forests, but can also be quite unnatural, the bright shade of space martians.
The American Dollar has been green ever since the first one-dollar billed debuted as a Legal Tender Note…