There’s a reason you see a smattering of women in red business suits in the crowd when you watch the State of the Union address on TV. Red is a power color, and these are powerful women!
The colors you choose to wear and even brand yourself with say a lot about you—individually and as a business.
I have very few business suits. My absolute favorite one is a gorgeous tangerine and hot pink brocade with a mandarin collar. It’s hot. It stands out from the crowd. It is not conservative. Whenever I wear it, I get lots of compliments. It’s sooooooo me!
But I’m not trying to blend in with everyone else around me. That’s not my M.O. I’m a freelance writer, editor, and entrepreneur. I like to have fun with color. I know what colors look good on me and I wear them as often as possible. Does that mean I have an abnormally large collection of bright green shirts? Yes, it does.
I really enjoyed reading this article on Inc.com about being color conscious. Wearing bold, brash colors might not be a great idea for someone who makes a living managing other peoples’ money. You don’t want your financial adviser to look quirky and brash. You want someone who presents themselves in a polished, even conservative manner. That’s why black, gray, and khaki are such popular, classic colors.
But what if you were creating an ad marketing campaign from scratch, or designing a new website? What would you want your designer to look like? I’m guessing the word “boring” doesn’t instantly come to mind. Which is why creative professionals need to be cognizant of color, whether it’s what they wear on their bodies or what is used on their websites.
Take a peek into your closet and at your website or marketing materials and notice what colors are most prevalent. Lets take a look at what those colors might say about you, according to the psychology of color:
Want to get people excited and draw attention to yourself? Wear red. It’s the color of energy and the symbol of life. It evokes strength, power, and creates a visual impact. There’s a reason stop lights and stop signs the world over are in red—it grabs our attention. Because it is such a strong color, it can also represent aggression, so beware.
There’s a reason that the cells of some of the most dangerous criminals are painted pink—it’s been shown to calm aggression. This color is considered tranquil, warm, and loving. Unlike red, pink soothes rather than stimulates.
Yellow is the color of happiness, sunlight, laughter, and optimism. That’s why my home office is painted a cheerful shade of yellow. The color also has the power to bring out creativity, but can be overpowering if too much is used. The right shade of yellow can lift your spirits and evoke friendliness. The wrong shade can make you squint.
Want to evoke a party-like atmosphere? Use orange. This color is associated with fun times, warmth, and ambition. There is nothing calming about this color at all, so if you are looking for a bold statement (and you’re sick of red) think orange. It’s easy to see and hard to miss—that’s why hunters are so fond of the blaze orange hue.
Purple is the color of royalty and is associated with wealth, prosperity, wisdom, and sophistication. Looking to convey the finest quality? Try using purple. This hue can evoke contemplation or meditation, as well as spiritual awareness. But avoid using too much of it.
Overall, blue is a calming, restful color, though some shades can evoke a sense of coldness. People have been found to be more productive when working in a blue room because they are calm and focused. Blue is associated with intelligence, trust, efficiency, and serenity. No wonder it’s most peoples’ favorite color!
The color of money and nature—two very important things. Green is another calming color that is also associated with generosity and peace. Green is located at the center of the color spectrum and is considered the color of balance and restoration.
This is the color of authority, power, sophistication, and strength. A somber color, it also conveys intelligence—that’s probably why most graduation robes are black. Depending on where you live, black is associated with grieving. It’s a serious color that can be overwhelming if you wear it head to toe—you don’t want to look self-absorbed. Black is, literally, every color in one. It covers, conceals, and enshrouds.
Want to look completely neutral? Go with gray. A suppressive color, gray exudes a lack of confidence, lack of energy, and depression.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published on May 7, 2012. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.