Top 10 Color Considerations for Small Businesses

HP provided this color guide and I thought it was useful enough to reprint here (with their permission) for you
Imagine the world without color. Almost impossible, right? Now ask yourself how many times you’ve stopped to think about how you incorporate color into your business.
Color, a word so simple and easy to understand, yet so dynamic in its effect, has made an enormous impact over time on the way the world conducts business. When used correctly, color has the ability to invoke emotion, spark ideas, create impressions and ultimately distinguish one company, product or individual from the next.
With ongoing pressure to grow, sustain and better your business, color is most likely not on top of your “to-do” list. So, we’ve made it easy by outlining 10 things to consider when using color in your office.
1.) First impressions are everything!
In today’s busy world you only get one chance – one chance to make an unforgettable impression, deliver your corporate message or simply convince that top customer on a sale. So you can’t just view color as a “nice-to-have” anymore – it’s a basic requirement in today’s competitive business world that could help make or break a deal. Research proves that color helps you make an impression differently and more effectively than you might with any other form of communication, whether used in marketing collateral, presentations or perhaps just the color of your business card. As with any good first impression, success tends to follow.
2.) Use color to persuade and motivate.
Perhaps the most powerful use of color is in convincing and motivating people to do something. Through emotion and the powerful sense of vision, color helps your audience appeal to something, ultimately leading to successful persuasion. Measurable physiological changes take place in people exposed to certain colors – it can stimulate, excite, create positive feelings of content. So don’t neglect it. Use color to negotiate and get what your business needs.
3.) Communicate more effectively.
Color continues to be critical in enabling clear and effective communication. More often than not, many inaccurate business decisions are due to lack of or misinterpretation of communication. Therefore, although verbal communication often works best, the chances of increasing effective communication through the incorporation of visual color is often underestimated. Color can actually help to bridge the gap between concept and comprehension. Documents delivered in color versus standard black and white increase comprehension by up to 73 percent 1. Every business requires effective communication. Ensure that you’re being heard.
4.) Finally get organized.
How many New Year’s resolutions have you made to yourself and your business to get organized? Well, now’s the time. Color is an extremely powerful tool for structuring and improving internal and external documents. It can help organize memos, spreadsheets, invoices, etc., making information easier to access and recall. Or by highlighting particular business guidelines in color, you’re guaranteed that more employees will pay attention to and follow these guidelines than if they were delivered in black and white.
5.) Don’t let them forget you.
When you think of a successful brand, what comes to mind? Most likely, a specific logo, a particular ad or some type of visual. When you think of Skittles or M&M’s, do you think of their taste or their various colors? Color forces us to remember something or someone. It can help an audience to both recognize and retain. For instance, use of color in printed materials increases readership by up to 40 percent 2. Having a successful business is only half the battle, ensuring that your customers remember you and build brand loyalty is just as important. Using color is a simple and cost effective way to accomplish this.
6.) Inform with color.
Good information is only as good as how it is delivered. So it’s smart to always use color to inform. When using color, information is communicated up to 70 percent faster and 77 percent more effectively than if it was delivered in black and white 3. Because your employees will pay more attention to information in color, the speed of the information flow within your company will increase dramatically, saving you more time in the long run. And we all know that time is money!
7.) Understand which colors mean what.
The colors you choose to represent your business can say a lot about you, but are you confident that the ones you’re using are the most appropriate? Politicians change their image on the advice of color consultants, the fashion industry predicts seasonal color trends years in advance and brand managers shell out serious money for the advice of color psychologists. There are international standards on the assignment of color to meaning, however keep in mind that the use of color to convey meaning can also be very tricky because color-meaning connections do not always transfer across cultures. For example, blue can mean power or melancholy, two ideas which don’t seem compatible. Because color meanings can conflict, be sure to have a clear understanding of what each color you chose to go with means in each market that your business plays in. Ultimately, your choice of color should be influenced by your company’s goals, philosophy and the image you want to portray.
8.) Give your surroundings a boost.
Colors affect the appearance, feel and productivity of your office. So be aware of how colors impact you, your employees and your customers. For instance, bright colors tend to stimulate but can also be distracting to people in the office, even making them restless at times. Therefore, bright colors are best used for accent but not a dominant color in the office. Warm colors such as soft blues and greens have a tendency to relax people, which can be beneficial for high-stress environments. Color can make a world of difference in an office, and it doesn’t have to be extreme. Even something as simple as hanging a scenic painting can be soothing to those around it.
9.) Forget the CMO.
Most small business owners understand the value and importance of marketing. However, they most often cannot afford to have a single staff person devoted to this task. Therefore, an easy alternative for your in-house marketing department is to leverage color technology. Really all you need is a computer, color printer, scanner and digital camera. With limited resources, it’s much easier to invest in color technology to accomplish marketing materials production with devices that can be run simply by any of your employees.
10.) Money, money, money.
At the end of the day, you’re in business to make money. There are hundreds of ways to increase revenues and profitability, but don’t overlook the small changes that can be made to help you grow your business, such as using color on sales collateral, which can increase the likelihood of the prospect moving to the actual purchase. Daily we strive to find that magical tool that will turn our business into the next Microsoft or Starbucks, but we forget that the answer may be found by leveraging something as simple as pure color.
1 Johnson, Virginia, “The Power for Color,” Successful Meetings, June 1992, Vol. 41, No. 7, pp. 87, 90
2 “Business Papers in Color. Just a Shade Better,” Modern Office Technology, July 1989, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 98-102
3 White, Jan, “Color for Impact: How Color Can Get Your Message Across or Get in the Way,” April 1997