By: Selena Cuffe, a special to Overdrive
New Yorkers are known for their love of black clothes. And folks familiar with Washington, D.C., can attest to the fact that its denizens have an unparalleled affinity for gray. I get it—no doubt, colors like black, navy, and khaki are classics for a reason. But the thing about classics is, when used alone, they can quickly morph from “classic” to “boring.” And if there’s something entrepreneurs don’t want to be known as, it’s boring.
Interestingly, I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs are typically more likely to be the brave souls rocking color, as compared to other businesspeople. And that doesn’t necessarily stop with wardrobe. My hypothesis is that this boils down to the fact that entrepreneurs seek to communicate on all levels that if you take a chance on us you are going to get innovation, fun and creativity, versus the same staid results you could get elsewhere. Or, maybe it’s simply that entrepreneurs were always inclined to use color, and now do so because running their own businesses relieves the pressure to “blend in.”
Most of us are at least topically familiar with research surrounding how people respond to color. I’m certainly no psychologist, but I have experienced that entrepreneurs who incorporate color indeed exude a certain confidence that would be difficult to replicate if they stuck solely to classic colors. That said, I’m not suggesting that you have to be trendy or outfit your offices with as much pizazz as an advertising agency … just that you try veering beyond safer palettes and see how it works for you. As with most things, starting small with color is a good way to test the waters. So below find some painless ways to add more color to your business—try it out and please let me know if you notice any improvements.
1. Attire. I put this one first because I will not be held responsible if anyone reading this arrives to work wearing a red suit that conjures up thoughts of Eddie Murphy in Delirious! You have been warned. That said, pairing a classic outfit with colorful accents is a simple, yet powerful, way to stand out. Think belts, purses, attaches, and shoes. Men generally have less latitude than women when it comes to wearing color at work, so men may especially gravitate toward starting with accents. Once you’re ready to move beyond accents, if you are still hesitant you can consider testing color out on a casual day or during the spring and summer – times when people tend to be more open to departures from the standard dress code. My advice is that when you go with bold colors, it is best to stick with classic cuts.
2. Marketing. Whether it be your website, marketing materials, products, or company uniforms, analyze if there are opportunities to strategically add some pops of color into the mix. If you can afford it, this is one of the times that leaning on a designer, stylist, or focus groups can be a great investment to guide your decisions. And if you can’t afford those options, consider a more informal poll of your contacts and friends to gauge how they respond to different introductions of color. Regardless of how you do it, find out which color combinations resonate with consumers and figure out how to incorporate them.
3. Office Space. Again, this is an area where a little introduction of color can have a big impact. There is no need to completely overhaul your office. Affordable, simple options can give your space a fresh, creative look: try adding some accent walls, displaying interesting art, and incorporating rugs, pillows, and other accents in the waiting room and other common areas.
Classic colors have their place, but adding some bold colors to your business is yet one more tool in a smart entrepreneur’s arsenal of ways to stand out from the competition.