Colour and the power to influence
(Throughout the summer Luis Casado, Marketing Director, LaserJet & Enterprise Solutions, EMEA, will be accompanying HP's Imaging & Printing Group's campaign to highlight the business and cost benefits of HP's colour portfolio for businesses with insights from his personal and professional experience).
When we talk about business, colour is often the last thing we think about. Of course, our conversations tend to focus around revenue, gross margin, cost of sales and other accounting terms. However, imagine a world where all cars would be black, all MP3 players silver and lifestyle magazines would be printed in black & white...? It would indeed be a dull world! In fact, the success of many companies depends on their ability to introduce, incorporate and play with colour in their product designs, adverts and sales activities etc. Colour is also part of our lives beyond the workplace. When I lived in the Netherlands I was struck by the multicoloured tulips, the green fields, the distinct red brick houses and the barrels of bright yellow cheeses on sale at the Alkmaar market; Queen’s Day, however, proved the most remarkable with the entire country – literally – dressing in orange. But let’s talk about the impact of colour. HP published research this month highlighting the role different colours play in influencing the way people respond.
According to the findings red, for instance, shows a tendency to generate extreme responses (positive or negative), while green tends towards agreement. The research, conducted amongst a working population across nine countries, was based on a series of ‘neutral statements’ published in different colours to separate sets of respondents who indicated their level of agreement. In terms of suggestibility – the potential to generate agreement with a given proposition – the findings revealed the impact colour can play in the decision-making process. When the questions themselves were in green, more than half of the respondents (53%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statements, compared with 36% of respondents whose questionnaire was published in black.
The research also revealed a correlation between polarity – extreme opinions – and the colour red, with nearly three times as many red questionnaires (29%) generating extreme responses (strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing) as black ones (10%). Indifference – neither agreeing nor disagreeing – was linked to blue and black with these coloured questionnaires generating rates of 47% and 43%, respectively, compared with 28% for green and 19% for red. While I’m not suggesting that this research is absolutely ‘scientific’, the findings are indicative of the impact colour can exert on the decision-making process.
Does this mean we should all go out and start stockpiling supplies of green ink and wait for the orders to come rolling in? Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as that as the findings for red-coloured questionnaires demonstrate; individuals’ perception and response to colour can be diverse and incredibly complex to analyse or predict. While red questionnaires generated the most extreme responses (strongly agreeing or disagreeing), for instance, nearly half of them still agreed with the given phrases, compared with 39% for black and just 36% for blue where polarity levels were much lower. And the implications for business? First, that colour makes a difference and – if harnessed correctly – can be employed as a genuine business driver. Secondly, like any business driver, it is possible to manage and measure its impact and I’ll be looking at tools and techniques for doing this in later posts.