Working in a creative role amidst folks who have been trained to believe that every problem can be quantified has provided me with moments self-enlightenment, entertainment and, yes, frustration.
The frustration arises when I am paired with teammates are not on a quest for self-enlightenment but rather cling stubbornly to the belief that there is a formula for everything. Take the color blue.
I have literally spent hours, even days, of my life debating the merits of different shades of blue with people determined to identify the ‘right’ color. Spoiler alert: there is no ‘right’ shade of blue.
It’s true that different colors elicit different emotions. A bright red can be alarming, most men hate purple (I don’t know why), yellow and orange are exciting, and blue is calming.
Blue is also respectable, responsible and trustworthy. It’s IBM’s brand color; it must be good. So, in a business-to-business sales situation, it is the go-to color. But what shade?
Blues range from bright teal (a blue tinted with yellow) all the way to nearly-purple (a blue tinted with red). In general, a yellow/blue reads younger, more exciting, more cutting edge. A red/blue – think the blue in a pinstripe suit – conveys respectability, trust, durability.
So, a financial firm should pick a red/blue, right? What about when they are trying to recruit? Wouldn’t younger people want to work at a yellow/blue firm? What are they conveying about their use of technology? Does a yellow/blue convey ‘fintech’ better than a red/blue? And how much yellow or how much red? I recently heard an artist call a yellow/blue the “scary blue”. You certainly want to avoid the scary blue, right?
While I’ve picked up a bit about the psychology of colors, there are graphic artists out there, probably employed or contracted to your firm, who have actually studied this. To the extent there is a science of color, they are the experts.
I’ve managed many graphic artists in my day, and I learned the more you micromanage their work, the worse the results. Now, I simply tell them I need something in blue and what I’m trying to achieve and leave them to it. I have rarely rejected a color choice.
I promise that no matter how much brain power you gather around a conference table, you are never going to develop a formula for the right shade of blue – although I would bet there is an algorithm out there that claims it can.
Your time would be much better spent meeting with clients, going out for coffee, finishing your expense report or playing with kittens.