The Power of Colour

December 2022

Leveraging Colour Psychology to Win In the Active Market

Color is a powerful tool for communication, specifically color psychology which is an important area of color theory that assigns emotional and psychological connections to hues. Often unconscious, each color different properties can influence human behavior both emotionally and/or physically facilitating a non-verbal language which can evoke emotions, inspire reactions, and change modes of thinking.

While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, some effects have universal meaning. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group states

“The color of apparel can serve as a signal to others; in a sporting environment this could mean the difference between winning and losing.”

The question then is, how can brands harness the power of color? Read more to put color into context whilst analyzing the effects of color on players, teams and athletes. 

PE NATION, image source

Powerful Black

Black is the color of power, authority and mystery. The hue can absorb all light on the color spectrum which can be seen as a bold power move, or it can be viewed as a lack of color and trigger feelings of sorrow and mourning. Hummel aims to evoke the latter emotion with their kit for the Danish national team. The recently released third kit for the World Cup features an all-black design which Hummel said signifies the 'color of mourning'. The brand employs the color and stripped back details to protest the World Cup in Qatar and the regions human rights record, stating  

'We don't wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn't the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation.'

Alternatively black can be associated with strength, brands that wish to channel this energy should implement the color usage across products worn by athletes where perceived mental or physical strength could lead to a competitive advantage, for example one-on-one such as tennis, boxing or water sports. Be wary of using black on team jerseys, unless perceived aggression is a competitive advantage such as in ice hockey or rugby. Studies show teams wearing black jerseys get penalized the most. Furthermore, in football, whenever a team switched to black uniforms, the study suggests this leads to an immediate increase in conceded penalties.

Hummel, image source  

Winning Red

It’s not a myth, research by the University of Durham suggests

“Red seems to confer an advantage”

The color of passion, anger and rage. With the longest wavelength in the spectrum, red is said to invoke strong yet contradictory emotions. Some cultures used red to signify prosperity, whilst others employ the color to allude to danger. In terms of a physical response, Research carried out by undergraduate students shows that wearing red may elevate blood pressure and heart rate. In some cases, it intensifies metabolism and respiration frequency. Color-focused brans, Girlfriend Collective imbue the hue across the collection as a sign of confidence and energy. The hue is also associated with speed so ideal to use on cycling ranges.

Girlfriend Collective, image source

According to author of All the Colors of Life: From the History and Mystery of Color, Shirley J. Wenrich

“Red is the best color for sports as it represents energy and vitality.”

Use liberally across CrossFit, boxing and HIIT ranges which are high energy. Team Sports like football could also benefit from red base kits. Research suggests football teams play better wearing red kits. There had been instances where teams had changed their shirt color and their fortunes. Take England's iconic red shirt worn for the 1966 World Cup as an example.

England world cup winners 66, image source

Cool and Calming Blue

Blue is heralded a calming color, shown to boost productivity and concentration levels. The hue runs on a 25 percent shorter wavelength than red, making the wearer seem further away. Ideal for running apparel or cycling jerseys.

Often described as serene and peaceful, use blue hues across yoga and restorative fitness ranges. Centric’s psychology-driven activewear line employs blue across their women’s range to help ground consumers, imbuing feelings of energy, confidence, and a sense of security, according to the website.

Fun fact: blue is said to be the world’s favorite color. Studies from across the globe reveal that 40% of people consider blue to be their favorite color. Second place goes to purple, though that received only 14% of the vote.

Centric, image source

Neon Brights  

Impossible to miss, fluorescences are eye popping and attract attention immediately. For this reason, the hue is traditionally used on safety apparel and to increase visibility at night when used across running and cycling apparel.

In addition, neons are associated with club culture and nightlife, therefore perceived as fun, excessive, and frivolous. The hyper bright hues are said to stimulate the brain ideal for apparel designed for high-intensity workouts.

Warning, apply sparingly too much neon can add stress and visual strain. Ideal for accents and trims. PE Nation’s latest collab with Asics is a perfect example of this. The duo reimagines the classic GEL-1130 silhouette with a neutral base energized with flashes of vibrant pink and hyper safety yellow accents.

ASICS X PE NATION, image source

Neutralizing Grey

In color psychology, grey represents neutrality and balance, signaling the brain to relax. Inoffensive and unemotional, the color has mass market appeal. The color grey is subdued, quiet and reserved. It does not stimulate or energize therefore is ideal for restorative sports, post workout sweats or recovery apparel. Varley’s active-to-everyday sweats are perfect for relaxing in this grey hue. The brand imbues color to relax and calm the wearer.

Varley, image source

About LTP

LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and organic & lifestyle apparel. LTP was established in 1991 and now spans two continents - Europe and Asia with 6 fully owned factories. Our European Innovation Centre is located in Kaunas, Lithuania and our Asian Innovation Centre is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We have a bluesign partner factory in all 5 countries where we operate (Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Vietnam).

LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in twelve fully owned factories.