Facebook’s Logo, Color Scheme Says “Trust Us”
Golombisky, K. & Hagen, R. White Space is Not Your Enemy: A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web & Multimedia Design (2 edition). New York: Focal Press.
Kadavy, D. (2011). Design for hackers: Ch. 8 “Color science”; Ch. 9 “Color Theory”
The color wheel; color temperature; Christmas, kings and blue jeans; creating mood with color
“Make your palette communicate with purpose. Account for the organization’s visual identity/branding, the message’s objective and the audience’s sensibility.”
“It’s generally believed that we react in a relaxed manner to colors on the “cool” end of the visible spectrum (violet, blue, and green), while “warm” colors (yellow, orange, and red) have an excitatory effect.”
Facebook’s business is built on collecting personal information from people, including their relationships with others, political preferences, likes, and opinions on everything. In order to get users to divulge intimate details about themselves, Facebook needs to establish a sense of trust.
As this week’s readings illustrate, colors have symbolic meanings, which means Facebook didn’t arbitrarily choose blue for its logo and branding. Kadavy points out that blue is oftentimes used by banks and financial institutions because it has a “calming effect.”
Seeing that blue Facebook logo relaxes users, making them feel more comfortable about answering Facebook’s “What’s on your mind?” prompt candidly (The conversational phrasing of the question evokes an intimate conversation one might have with a trusted friend).
But what if Facebook’s logo and branding were red instead of blue? As the readings demonstrate, red has an “excitatory effect” on the brain, and as Kadavy points out with the “Target challenge,” it can be used very successfully. Changing the Facebook logo to red could mean more user engagement: more likes, more photos, more posts, more connections, etc.
Users may also act more emotionally rather than logically when engaging on Facebook, which could lead to more impulse buys via “Suggested Post” ads (Can’t pass up that dress!) and “heat of the moment” posts. Instead of typing and deleting an angry rant, a user may feel encouraged or “fired up” to click the “Post” button if it were red rather than blue. There have been times I’ve written a post and then chose to delete it instead of posting it (A red “post” prompt would’ve overrode my prefrontal cortex and, perhaps, made me post that thought).
Or the opposite could happen. People could become so overwhelmed by the red that they stop posting. As Kadavy noted in Ch. 9, an experiment that used a red-covered test caused participants to become fearful and exhibit avoidance behavior toward the test itself by physically distancing themselves from it. If red were used on Facebook, this could result in users leaving the site.
What if Facebook’s logo were changed to a different color, say green or purple? How would that change Facebook’s message and user’s interactions with the site?
Pick a brand or different social media site, and choose a different color for its logo and branding. What does the original color scheme communicate? And how would that message be changed with a different color?