Colors are just colors, right? It seems like a logical conclusion when we look at any color. Yet, our preconceived notions often hinder our ability to view all colors with no gender association. I mean, it is 2020, right? Why is there still some sort of unspoken agreement that pink is a “girl” color and blue is a “boy” color? This concept seems like complete nonsense. However, throughout history, there have been distinctions made between the two set by society. When we think of gender associated colors we often think of pink, purple, and blue. Personally, I’m a big fan of all three. We’re here to give you a history of the gender associated colors and encourage your business to push new boundaries.
According to Art & Object, the color pink wasn’t always considered a predominantly female associated color. In fact, it was quite the opposite before the 20th century. Pink was typically a neutral color with no associations. If anything, it was possibly more connected to the male gender. From clothing to decorative home pieces, pink has been a more universally used color in the past. It wasn’t until around the 1950s that pink became re-established as a female-associated color.
Pink has a few different shades, but overall it is generally bright and energetic. Shades of pink might include neon pink, salmon, flamingo pink, and many more. While pink is more associated with the female gender by society, there is a growing number of men who are steadily increasing their wardrobe with the color. For example, there are some men’s shorts and polo shirts that I’ve seen worn on numerous occasions. Perhaps there is a shift happening that is making the color more universal.
Aside from current societal associations to the female gender, pink is known to represent friendship bonds, peace, and affection. The significations of pink slightly resemble the color red, and rightfully so. Red is famous for being the color of love, so it only makes sense that a similar color is in the same ballpark of meaning. Regardless, the connotations that go along with pink show its warmth as a color.
Interestingly enough, the color blue also may have had a different gender association before the mid-20th century. In the year 431, the Catholic Church showed Mary wearing a blue robe. This may appear to be a subtle detail. However, the idea of an important female figure in Catholicism wearing blue could have had some influence on how the color was perceived by the public. According to another source, blue only became connected with the male gender as a marketing tactic to gain more sales. By deliberately assigning certain colors to certain genders, there would be an increase in the selling of clothes and accessories.
Blue is interesting because there are not many ways to describe it. Blue can be dark or bright in appearance. Some shades of it include navy, sky blue, and aquamarine. It’s also fascinating because blue is a universally worn color, yet somehow it still has a greater association with the male gender in society. There’s no telling how the color blue will be perceived later down the line. Today, blue is affiliated with many positive characteristics. Depending on the variation of blue, it can be related to loyalty, sincerity, serenity, and more. The calm, truthfulness of blue could be a reason why pretty much everybody uses it in their wardrobe.
According to Arts & Collections, purple has been depicted as a color of royalty and wealth throughout history. This is because several kings and high status figures included it in their wardrobe. Taking in to an even further extent, purple was only allowed to be worn by royalty in some civilizations. One speculation as to how purple has become a predominantly female related color is that it is the official color used for international women’s day. This day celebrates women’s rights and women as a whole.
Henry VIII is a prime example of a royal figure who took the purple rule pretty seriously in his day. In fact, he used it against someone else in a court of law who wore the color without having royal blood. He was able to do this because there were pre-established laws forbidding people of non-royalty to wear the color. Today, Queen Elizabeth has worn purple on several occasions, but it is unclear if there is a reason behind it or not. Obviously, purple is no longer an exclusive color to the rich and powerful.
Purple has a bit of a darker shade than pink. Strangely, the colors red and blue make purple. For a color to be more associated with females, it’s interesting how a color used to make it is connected with the male gender. Regardless, purple is a sophisticated color consisting of shades such as violet, plum, lavender, and more. Other associations with purple today include spirituality, calmness (similar to blue), and power. On that note, it would make sense if the queen had the theme of power in mind when wearing purple.
Gender Reveal Party
One of the biggest current instances of attaching specific colors to a specific gender comes from gender reveal parties. For those unfamiliar, this is an event where people gather to find out the gender of the baby somebody is expected to have. Typically, everyone at the party finds out by color. If the color pink is revealed, the baby will be a girl and if it’s blue, the baby will be a boy. A popular form of gender reveal is by the cutting of a cake and seeing what color is inside. This type of party is relatively new comparatively speaking to all of history. The gender reveal celebration is thought to have been coined in the 2000s. However, the woman who first created the party now has mixed emotions on it because of its unintentional divisiveness.
Most men’s sports do not primarily use pink or purple as their team colors. However, there are a few that are an exception. For example, the Minnesota Vikings football team incorporates purple on their jerseys. Some soccer teams such as Palermo have ties with the color pink as well. Although wearing pink in men’s sports is not completely unheard of, the color blue is used on a way more frequent level. The list of blue colors in men’s sports includes the Yankees, Colts, Mets, Dodgers, Magic, Cubs, Knicks, Giants, Cowboys, and so on.
Women’s teams typically incorporate blue into their team colors more than pink as well. Teams that use the color blue include the Liberty, Sky, Wings, Dream, Lynx, and more. This raises a new question: is blue a more universal color than pink? In a lot of ways, it certainly appears to be the case. It feels like we’re more likely to see women wearing blue than men wearing pink (although it is happening more now). As of now, it is inconclusive as to what blue means in sports. One thing we know for certain is that blue will probably have a heavy presence in both men and women’s sports for years to come.
There are times where sports teams change their colors to support an occasion. For example, many professional sports teams wear pink to support breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is known to be more common in females, so the pink association is used in correspondence with that. There have also been instances where MLB teams wore blue to raise awareness for prostate cancer, more commonly found in men.
There are so many brands that use these three colors for packaging. Depending on the target demographic a business wants to reach, blue, pink, and purple are used accordingly. Some notable pink businesses include Barbie, Dunkin Donuts, Pink, and more. What do these brands have in common? They are all primarily trying to reach a female audience. The color blue is mainly used by brands looking to target a male demographic. Some significant brands are Lowe’s, Ford, and Walmart. This is not to say that there aren’t females who use these companies. However, there is a chance that these brands had a male audience in mind when creating their logo. Some notable purple logos include Wonka, Hallmark, and Lady Speed Stick. These brands also could have potentially kept the female demographic in mind when choosing colors to represent their business.
As I did some more research on brands that incorporate any of the three colors into their logo, there truly are some logos that I believe are meant to be universal. For instance, Visa consists of a blue logo. Since banking and money have no primary gender demographic attached to it, I find it hard to believe that Visa would choose blue to cater to just men. The same can be said about Lyft or Pepto Bismol being pink. This might be a sign of how your business can go about using colors. Brands don’t necessarily have to think about gender demographics when choosing colors to represent themselves.
The industry does play a role in figuring out why businesses choose certain colors. For example, the automobile industry is way less likely to produce pink cars because traditionally most people prefer neutral color cars to drive. Colors such as black, grey, white, silver, and dark blue are typically seen on the road more. So, it would probably be a logical decision to sell non-pink cars.
Different colors can also be affiliated with different kinds of shoppers. For example, the color pink appeals to traditional buyers typically at clothing stores. Other types of buyers include the impulsive shopper and the shopper on a budget. Even different shades of the same color such as sky blue and navy blue can target two totally different buyer types. So, it is important to recognize what type of shopping behavior you are looking to target for your business, and make a decision with that in mind.
Subject to Change
As you can tell from the history of pink, blue, and purple, the way colors have been assigned to different genders over time is not set in stone. This is a key takeaway for your business because it proves that you can set any kind of color trend you desire. Pushing color boundaries can be very beneficial to your business because you might spark a shift in traditional target audiences moving forward.
At QQ Studio, we make sure that our selection of bags comes in a variety of colors for our customers to decide which is best for them. As much as some colors may be associated with certain genders more than others, it’s still essential to provide as many options as possible. There are plenty of people such as myself who have an appreciation for all colors and would wear any color in their wardrobe. For multi-color packaging, your business might want to consider these pastel leaf bags available in six different colors. These bags can stand up for better display purposes and contain a reusable zipper seal for easy access to contents stored inside. We also offer a gradient pink and blue bag. The combination of both colors might be perfect for businesses looking to target both males and females.
Color matters to us because we are all about providing other businesses with a catalog of options to choose from what it comes to product packaging. The more variety we have, the more equipped you are to select what you like the most.
It’s interesting to see how colors have evolved concerning gender associations. As a business, don’t be afraid to try out new colors regardless of the gender matches made by society. Perceptions of color are rapidly changing, so do what you believe will represent your business the best. Colors play a big role in marketing because it provides a visual of how a business wants to be represented. Your business should always be mindful of what customers you are primarily targeting. People make associations with other things outside of gender as well. For example, a bright color can often be more playful and energetic, so that should definitely go into consideration. We hope that you enjoyed this blog and gained some knowledge of the history of pink, purple, and blue too. If you like our informative color blogs, check out our other piece on gold and silver packaging.