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The network industry's most colorful story ever

What's behind Big Blue, Red Hat and those purple Extreme Networks switches?

By , Network World
December 18, 2006 12:00 AM ET

Network World - A quick study of the network industry could be enough to give you the blues.

To start, there’s IBM, otherwise known as Big Blue. Then there’s Windows’ dreaded blue screen of death and Microsoft’s annual BlueHat security briefings. And who can forget the Code Blue virus that struck in 2001?

The industry’s extended blue period saw the emergence of wireless security company Bluesocket, plus other outfits of past and present, such as BlueCat Networks, Blue Ridge, Blue Titan and BlueWave Networks.

North Bridge Venture Partners alone counts BlueNote Networks, BlueShift and Bluespec among its investments. The Bluetooth wireless technology has created a spectrum of colorful companies from BlueAnt to Bluetrek.

Not that the industry’s color palette is limited to blue and its association with loyalty and trustworthiness. There’s also France Telecom’s Orange mobile business, Google’s yellow enterprise search boxes, a rainbow of wiring color standards and Apple Computer products, and everything from the Black Hat Briefings for security experts to such new companies such as Code Green Networks.

Red’s popular, too. Novell has been called Small Red and Big Red for its Pantone 485-shaded logo and the boxes in which it shipped NetWare (not for its financial results in recent years). Ray Noorda, the company’s late CEO, used to tell a story about walking into a computer store and asking the clerk what color box stood out the best on the shelf.

The clerk said red, so Noorda went with that. The official story out of Novell today is that the company did a Christmastime launch in the mid-1980s and decided on red, which stuck.

What colors mean to businesses
From elegance and evil to freshness and fertility. You might not think a lot about colors. But companies do and they're betting that their choice of colors in branding themselves and their products will appeal to you whether you know it or not. Here's a summary of what different colors are thought to mean or are associated with (note that some colors have different meanings in different countries):
Black: Elegance, power, evil, mystery.
Blue:Loyalty, trust, calmness (certain shades).
Brown:Dependability, masculinity.
Gold:Prestige, wisdom, wealth, quality.
Gray: Practical, middle-of-the-road.
Green: Nature, freshness, fertility.
Orange: Energy, joy, activeness.
Pink: Femininity, romance.
Purple: Royalty, creativity, luxury, magic.
Red: Energy, danger, passion.
White: Lightness, purity.
Yellow: Happiness, warmth.
Click to see: What colors mean to businesses

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