National Hockey League teams have discovered what Hollywood knew all along:
- Bad buys wear black
- Good guys wear white
Results were analyzed for a 25-year period, and the results showed the following:
- Teams were penalized more when they wore black jerseys
- They were penalized less when they wore colored jerseys.
When teams switched to wearing colored jerseys at home games, they were penalized more than when they wore white jerseys at home games. Collectively, the professors who made the studies concluded that black jerseys are associated with more aggression, and that white jerseys are associated with less aggression. Pretty much like Hollywood.
In very close matches, the colors a team wears could have an effect on the outcome. What’s true for the sports arena is also true for the business arena.
Colors send out powerful psychological signals that are subliminal. One rule of thumb is that dark colors are more powerful than light colors. In the business arena, a black suit can sometimes create the impression that the wearer is coercive or too forceful. We could conjure up an image of Darth Vader instead of Valiant Manager. That’s why navy blue is often a better choice for a dark suit.
Blue is, in fact, a winning color. That’s because it symbolizes trust. It’s for that reason that policemen wear dark blue uniforms and not black ones. When you think of blue, you may recall conflicting images:
- The blue bird of happiness
- Blue Monday
It’s all about tonality or shade of color. Clear and bright “sunny” shades of blue that bring to mind a bright summer sky would be suited for the blue bird of happiness. A grey-toned sky that foretells of snow and wintry cold would be paired with blue Monday.
White is not necessarily a “winning” or powerful color. It may be associated with purity or innocence but not with power. It is, however, far more powerful than any pastel.
Not all dark colors are authoritative, but sport teams have not taken note of this. Take green, for instance. Like brown, it’s a non-threatening color that is related to the earth. Even dark shades like forest green convey far less authority than dark blue. Interestingly, the Green Bay Packers football team often contains more yellow than green. Yellow represents mental energy, so it is conducive to quick thinking, an asset for any football player or businessperson.
That’s why bold yellow power ties are second only to red power ties. Yellow jackets for women can work, but an entire yellow suit is not advised because it can overwhelm.
Red is another color that is favored by the world of sport and business, and for good reason. Red is the color of energy, action and competitiveness. We see red ties worn with power suits, because they’re a perfect psychological match. A pastel tie would send cross signals.
Women can wear an entire suit in this high-powered color, but very few do so. That’s because red is branded aggressive sometimes. Every color does have a positive and negative connotation, and impulsiveness and aggression are red’s drawbacks. Nevertheless, in terms of leveling the playing field with men, red suits work just fine for women.
Purple is also a winning color because of its association with royalty. However, it’s not a good color for a man’s business suit. It is a powerful and classy color for a tie, however. In dark or royal shades, this regal color is a good choice for a woman’s suit or jacket. Pastel and drab shades of purple have nothing in common with royal purple.
The colors you wear can give you the competitive edge in business. They can signal winner or “also ran.” The clever use of color psychology can enable you to truly dress for the occasion.
Sandy Dumont is an image consultant and speaker whose image workshops are presented on three continents. For more information, please visit www.theimagearchitect.com.