Google is one of the major U.S. corporations researching the power of color in the working world, in everything from workspaces to marketing and branding.
Meghan Casserly, spokeswoman for the U.S.-based organization built around the popular search engine, says Google is still early in its research. But it has already found "a clear link between color and satisfaction with a person's work area." That, in turn, can boost employee creativity and productivity.
Elyria Kemp is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of New Orleans. She says there's more competition than ever for time and attention, and color is "the silent salesperson."
"We have so much stimuli in the environment," she said. "That's why it's so important to have those distinctive colors that really stand out."
Kemp is following color trends in business. She is conducting her own research on the link between emotions and color. She said she's also looking at what colors consumers associate with certain services. They include transportation, health care, banks and financial services.
Kemp said when consumers make an evaluation of a product offering, typically they do this within 90 seconds or less. She said more than half of their initial assessment is based on color alone.
That's why so many companies are researching their color choices. They are spending thousands of dollars on the research, too. And they are holding on to the colors consumers have come to associate with their products. Just think of UPS's Pullman brown, Home Depot's vibrant orange and Tiffany & Co.'s distinct blue.
Joclyn Benedetto is spokeswoman for Tiffany & Co., based in New York City. She said the diamonds and glamour of the company's jewelry is linked to the signature Tiffany blue color that wraps every creation. She said the color was selected by founder Charles Lewis Tiffany for the cover of "Blue Book, Tiffany's annual collection of exquisitely handcrafted jewels." It was first published in 1845.
Coca-Cola's signature red color also dates back more than 100 years. The soft drink was shipped in barrels painted red to differentiate it from beer barrels, said Ted Ryan, the company's spokesman.
Home Depot got its original orange color from deconstructed circus tents used in its early marketing signage.
"When we do consumer research and we ask our customers say a word association for Home Depot, the first thing they say is orange," said Trish Mueller. He is Home Depot's chief marketing officer.
Smaller companies are also recognizing the benefits of color. But picking the right color is important.
"You know when something is right because you get a feeling of security, of safety. And it's not something that you think about. It just will hit you," said Emil Hagopian. He's with Mar Plast Color Building Materials in Ann Arbor, Mich. "And sometimes, if it's done wrong, that also hits you."
Critical thinking challenge: How can companies use color to make more money?