There was a management fad a while ago that I’m sure is still alive and well in some corner of Corporateville to provide new recruits to grad schemes with fashion advice. No doubt this was designed to curb the wave of bright young things coming into the office in un-ironed shirts or the kind of body-con dresses that can play havoc with the blood pressure of the senior partners. The good consultants went beyond the condescending (“Wear a suit. No, not one from Topshop”) and started to provide advice on what colours best matched your skin tone… although I distinctly remember seeing pretty much everyone from one intake rush out and by purple shirts and ties after one session so I guess even fashion consultants get lazy?
The good ones started to look for opportunities to upsell their services to more seasoned executives closer to the top of the corporate ladder. These sessions focused less on the career benefits of investing in a good mouthwash and introduced colour theory into the workplace. Want to seem dependable? Wear this colour. Need to come across as friendly? Avoid these shades. That sort of thing.
I’ve never held much by the benefit of this sort of thing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that colours, much like smells and sounds can trigger emotional connections and memories. Doing maths sums is supposed to make someone most likely to think of the colour red, for example, and there’s something inherently recognisable and comfortable in the associations drawn in the chart above (developed by The Logo Company — http://thelogocompany.net/blog/infographics/psychology-color-logo-design/ and http://thelogocompany.net/logo-color-choices/ ). Yet in the real world we are faced with so many stimuli that the psychological benefit is watered down beyond belief. How can you really expect the colour of a man’s shirt to make him seem dependable when offset against a rainbow of other wavelengths hitting the retina?
Where I do see a benefit is in our writing. Good writing does a lot of the filtering for the reader, choosing to describe just enough to create the scene and provide the descriptive hooks for the reader’s imagination to hang emotional reactions on. In this environment, mentioning a single colour can have a much bolder impact.
Easton sits back against the edge of the conference table and casually straightens his aquamarine tie. ‘Sure,’ he says. ‘What could go wrong?’
Easton sits back against the edge of the conference table and casually straightens his fire-engine red tie. ‘Sure,’ he says. ‘What could go wrong?’
What do you think? Is there a difference?