Rajen Mistry • Sep 22 • 3 minutes

Code red! All these brands look blue!

Have you ever heard of the blue branding trope in digital health? 

If you haven’t don’t worry, I’ll explain what it is, and how it came about:

In digital health, many brands have adopted a visual identity that’s very, well, blue.

In fact, according to 99Designs, over 80% of leading healthcare organisations have predominantly blue logos. 

Here’s why it happened:

• 33% of the world’s leading brands use blue in their logos. It is also, incidentally, the world’s favourite colour.

• Being that the healthcare industry was never particularly design-minded (and focused instead on optimising care for intermediaries and not patient experience), this visual identity became continually copied.

• Seeing this success, digital health brands followed suit, bundling together (and making everything blue) leaving them swept away in a sea of industry sameness.  

Now this doppelgänger dilemma has come with its fair share of criticisms, namely the accusation that differentiation is impossible with blue branding. 

But we also feel this criticism, which has been left brands (especially those using blue) without explanation and wondering:

“Is it really a problem?” and “Can I incorporate blue and stand out?” 

So, if you’re interested in a more in-depth analysis and some actionable tips for your brand’s visual identity, keep on reading! 

Is blue branding a barrier to differentiation in the sector?


Ultimately, when done right, a blue brand can still stand out and create the familiarity and conjure the feelings of safety, trust, and professionalism that are so often associated with the colour.

Raymond Loewy, an industrial designer once posed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces:

Neophilia, a curiosity about new things.

And neophobia, a fear of anything too new.

As a brand agency that works with digital health and tech brands and their customers, we know this to be true.

In his work, Loewy suggested that consumers gravitate towards products/services that are bold, but instantly comprehensible, calling his theory MAYA: “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”. 

He suggested to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.

For brands that want to hold on to their blue colours, this should be a mantra to live by.

And here’s a brand that perfectly navigated the familiar yet surprising element Loewy suggests.

Sage Therapeutics: A visual identity to remember 

Sage Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company, that is developing novel therapies to help transform the lives of people with disorders of the brain.

Shot of the Sage Therapeutics website in 2014.
Shot of the new website taken in 2022. Rebrand by Wolf Ollins in 2019.

Why does the rebrand work?

• Sage’s visual identity presented brain health optimistically. They kept the blue which connected them to the industry but challenged conventions by omitting scientific imagery and patient shots.

• The use of big, bold, colourful illustrations represents the complexity of the brain, showing it in an optimistic light, thus differentiating their position and representation of brain health from their competitors.

So, what’s the key takeaway we can take from colour and digital health?

Ultimately, colour and its impact on your brand’s differentiation shouldn’t be a black and white issue (pun-intended).

Any colour can be made bold, impactful, and memorable but it is about how it marries with the entire brand; and someone helping you to achieve this vision.

Continue to build your brand:

Reposition, refresh, or rebuild? – One of our most popular blog posts, which can help you audit your company and discover whether your brand is fit for purpose.

Rebrand FAQs – A document answering the most frequently asked questions we receive from digital health and technology companies.

Brand Trust Review Call – A free 15-minute call to discuss the future of your brand and the next best steps.