Profits in the red? Maybe you should paint your storefront or office walls blue.
Mike Kapnick, 41, wasn't worried about his company's profits when he painted the inside of his family business a few months ago, but he did give a lot of thought to what he wanted the interior environment to look like.
"While we wanted to maintain a business feel, we also wanted our employees to feel comfortable in the office," said Kapnick, president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Kapnick Insurance Group.
Kapnick wound up choosing slate blue, tan, a khaki and olive green mix and cream, and says of the look: "There is also an abundance of natural light in the building, so we felt the soothing outdoor colors would be a good fit. This combination has helped foster a team environment throughout the office, which is what we were looking for."
The idea that colors affect how customers shop, workers work and the general public behaves has been around for a while. Take a look at our color chart to get a sense of whether you're happy with your business's color palette.
Blue and Green
What it's good for: A busy office environment. Studies show that people are more productive and confident in offices that are painted blue or have blue furniture -- any type of blue cues. For instance, a comprehensive, landmark study conducted by the University of British Columbia showed that a blue environment can help with productivity. What's more, blue has a calming effect on the public.
"Blue is calming, tranquil and soothing, like the ocean, which recedes away," said Chris Ring, vice president of operations and training for national franchise ProTect Painters (http://www.protectpainters.com/). "Because of that mentality, when we paint an accent wall, for instance, it feels calming and serene."
Green also is "a prevalent color in our natural environment," Ring said. "Think trees, grass -- those are the elements we've historically seen and been part of, and the color green is perceived in the same way, as a natural, calming color."
What it's good for: An office environment that requires a lot of attention to detail. The University of British Columbia study showed that the color red boosts performance when workers have detail-oriented tasks like proofreading or anything that requires memory retrieval. Red is also often used as an attention getter on packaging.
But red might not work for restaurants. A study conducted by University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland found that the color red acts like a subconscious stop sign, helping people limit their food intake.
Black (and White)
What it's good for: Luxury businesses and high fashion companies. It's elegant and distinctive, perfect for luxury businesses (think jewelry) and some logos and branding, said Jack Taylor, professor of retail at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala.
Karen Mishra, assistant professor of business at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, said the brand Two Men and a Truck Intl. is one company that nicely uses black and white in their logo. "They enforce the use of their black and white brand logo on their trucks and other packaging with their franchisees because it is very distinctive and they want to maintain a consistent image around the country from franchise to franchise," Mishra said.
Yellow and Orange
What it's good for: Office break rooms, restaurants and public bathrooms. "It's a cheery, energetic color," said Ring, who cautions not to go wild with yellow, especially if there's a lot of natural light that could make your yellow obnoxiously yellow. "It can cause some anxiety. For instance, if you go with a light yellow and then an accent wall that's purple, that can give an energetic feel to the room."
Ring offers a similar sentiment for orange. "Light shades of orange," he said, "can make people feel stimulated and happy. It's a playful color with a lot of warmth."
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