TV & Streaming

No, you’re not imagining it: Streaming services’ new favorite color is blue

Blue is a safe—if boring—bet, branding experts say.
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Illustration: Hannah Minn, Photos: Disney+, Paramount+, Prime Video, Max

· 4 min read

Three years ago, new streaming services were favoring purple as their brand color of choice. Now, they’ve all got the blues.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to rebrand its flagship streaming service from purple-drenched HBO Max to royal-blue Max made it official. “We need to start a dialogue,” Twitter user RK Jackson joked, posting pictorial evidence: Now, Prime Video, Max, Paramount+, and Disney+ all prominently feature blue in the branding for their services, whether it’s a lighter blue for Prime Video or a midnight blue for Disney+.

The slow shift to blue is a bit of a pivot in the streaming entertainment world, whose apps and services have long featured a rainbow of colors like red, neon green, purple, and orange. But streaming services are under immense pressure to make their services as attractive as possible to the broadest consumer base they can—and they’re increasingly gravitating toward a safer, and perhaps less inspired, color scheme.

“Purple was very distinct, but like HBO, it’s actually a fairly divisive color,” Pato Spagnoletto, CMO of Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming, told Marketing Brew. “There’s people who really love it and people who don’t. By contrast, blue is the most loved color by the most audience segments.”


It’s true: Most people love blue. It’s consistently found to be the most popular in the world and is generally considered to be a serene and calming color.

Max’s new blue in particular is a “non-aggressive color, pleasant to the eye,” Eunice Shin, partner and global head of the media and entertainment practice at the branding and consulting firm Prophet, said. In the case of Max, though, it was the fact that there was any color change at all—not necessarily the color itself—that served as a signal to consumers that a different content offering was coming, Shin explained.

Spagnoletto told us that Warner Bros. Discovery evaluated just about every color ahead of its rebrand, along with the more than 100 different new names it considered. The shade of blue that was eventually selected “exuded this blend of premium but approachable,” he said.

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In some cases, though, blue can feel less premium and more generic, Ross Clugston, the chief creative officer of Design Bridge and Partners, said. “Blue is where you land when you have a decision by committee,” Clugston said. Convene 20 people in a boardroom, and “you’re going to end up with blue, guaranteed.”

Tech blech

From Clugston’s point of view, streaming services’ increasing embrace of blue also pushes against some long-standing color associations. For decades, blue was heavily associated with Silicon Valley, whether that was social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or apps like Zoom and Venmo. In contrast, many brands in the entertainment streaming space stood out with brighter, bolder colors. Netflix and YouTube both feature bright red in their brand codes, and Hulu has stuck out for years with its instantly recognizable neon green.

“The problem with blue is it puts you in corporate tech land,” Clugston said. “You don’t want to be there. Your customer base is much younger, and they’re looking for entertainment, and blue isn’t really entertainment.”

For streaming services that are opting for blue, the choice may be emblematic of a larger industrywide shift to more conservative business decisions, Clugston said. Those dynamics are abundant: Hollywood has undergone rounds of layoffs, and increasingly risk-averse executives are homing in on proven franchises in an attempt to guarantee return on investment as they prioritize profit to please investors.

“Blue is safe,” Clugston said. “A big part of the strategic thinking there is to do no harm to the product.”

Whether or not blue is the new look for streamers, though, is less important than whether the content itself is enticing enough for consumers. “Does [blue] make a difference between someone double-clicking on it and opening up the app? Absolutely not,” Shin said.

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