Business imagery is rich with colour and suggestive symbolism. Different colours and combinations have grown to be associated with various industries. Some of these are very traditional, for instance, the red and white associated with old fashioned barbers (symbolising blood and bone) or the blue associated with the financial service industry. As marketing has developed as a discipline, companies have learned to manipulate and this colour symbolism in order to make a statement about their business. Within this paradigm lays the notion of using colour to improve sales and / or service levels, and the best way to achieve this in terms of corporate clothing is to have an appreciation of the psychology of colour. During daily operations, it is perhaps not as crucial to pay attention to colour (assuming that all employees are following the company dress code). However, if prospective clients are visiting it is arguable that those charged with “sealing the deal” pay special attention to the colour combinations they are going to wear.
Global business and global colour
Colour psychology is not a precise scientific discipline. In fact within scientific circles because it is so subjective many professional scientists do not consider colour psychology to be a field of scientific study. It is however true that a business should pay attention to colour in terms of how it relates to business prospects and any cultural factors that determine what a colour means or how it may be perceived. For example, in the West we associate white with purity and simplicity but in the Far East the colour is associated with mourning. So if a sales representative is meeting prospective new clients from other parts of the world colour combination in his or her business wear warrants active consideration. The best that any organisation can aim for is to develop a colour code in their corporate uniforms that is most likely to garner success in their overall business operations.
Whether or not a person likes a given set of colours is a direct function of the psychological and the physiological, this is what makes colour perception so subjective. In terms of business uniforms the objective is to develop colour combinations that accommodate gender, culture, education and of course the age of the people that the organisation conducts its business with. The corporate uniforms should produce positive associations as this an investment in inputs that should form a vital component of increasing outputs. In terms of science it is important to remember that there is a genetic basis for colour in that colour blindness is a gender based occurrence such that many people are colour blind for red and green. Overall, for men and women colours such as blue, green, grey, silver and red are generally seen as acceptable colours for combination in office suits and business wear.
There really is no definite answer to determining what the most appropriate corporate uniform is. It really does depend on circumstances. The trick is to establish which combinations work best and be aware that there are always going to exceptions to what the literature may suggest.