Brand Palettes In Tech Are Going Back To Black (Blue Ain't Cutting It No More) In a digital world circling around the myriad intensities of black, the hues of success are found in mindful branding.
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It wasn't until Twitter switched to the X app icon that the colorless question popped to my mind: how long has black been creeping up on our phone screens? Within a minute, I reorganized all the apps on my phone that don a majority-black icon in one page, and I found that X had joined a growing club that boasts veteran members like Uber, TikTok, and Netflix, and newcomers like Threads (Meta's take on X), BeReal, and Notion. Another realization? MENA-focused brands like Anghami, Spinneys, My Etisalat, and Sarwa are all distinguished members of that club in their own way.
Black, as a color, means more than "absence of color," like non-artists would say. Black is a rich, opulent, luxurious choice for brands that want to convey unattainable wealth and status with a hint of timelessness. In the tech industry, however, which, in its early days, was a funky 90s show of a minimum of four colors stitched to its company logo (we remember eBay, Google, Apple), blue was once the black we see nowadays. Blue is known to instill an image of stability, serenity, and success among tech companies, which is maybe why 50% of the top 100 tech brands mainly use different shades of blue or black in their logo and brand identity.
Facebook has had quite the change over the years, going from blue to bluer every once in a while. It's now settled on a rich, electric blue, and it doesn't come without an explanation. "Our intention was to create a refreshed design of the Facebook logo that was bolder, electric, and everlasting," notes the design team at Facebook. "Each of the distinctive, new refinements drives greater harmony across the entire design as a key element of the app's identity. We've done this by incorporating a more confident expression of Facebook's core blue color that is built to be more visually accessible in our app, and provides stronger contrast for the 'f ' to stand apart."
Now, there are many theories around why apps would tone down their colorful icons on our phones. For Alex Center, founder and Creative Director of US-based brand and design company CENTER, social media platforms like X, Threads, and TikTok are content-first apps that host billions of content pieces, and so, for them to have a simple app icon and user interface resembles the uncluttered simplicity of museums. Remember your last museum visit, and recall the naked walls that allow the art to stand out. That's what apps that keep you scrolling aim to achieve, and we bite into it. We're all art suckers in our own ways.
WhatsApp, on the other hand, allows you to customize your chat wallpaper, making the text in white and light green the art to look at- as long as there's a noticeable contrast. In real life, however, the new generations (I'm talking Gen Z mainly) are waning down their interest in minimalism, and maxing out on maximalism. They're into funky mixed colors, a lot of home déco, poppy streetwear, and widely diverse fashion that's mainly centered around consumerism. At the end of the day, monthly installments are back thanks to fintech startups offering "buy now, pay later" services mushrooming in every corner of the globe. (Shout out to Saudi Arabia-based Tabby for hitting unicorn status this November!) Still, there's something imposing about the color black that's having some social media companies and others reconsider how they portray themselves to users.
Some more regional brands have done it too. UAE-based investment app Sarwa shifted from the color teal to a dark olive green. "This metamorphosis made us realize that it's about being bold, forward-thinking, and, well, totally us," the company said in its rebrand announcement. "And we made sure that we're speaking your language: having everything in one place, simply... In the end, Sarwa is not about a logo or a color. It's about what we set out to do, and how we can continue growing with you."
In a digital world circling around the myriad intensities of black, the hues of success are found in mindful branding. And as entrepreneurs navigate the colorful realm of business, the significance of their brands' palettes should never fade to black.