Business Tip #1: You're too White

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albino gorilla staring menacingly in zoo
You might be scaring business away

What’s your dominant color?

When a wedding or corporate client walks into your office, the first thing they see is not your desk or lamp, but your dominant color.

Are your walls painted white? If so, you might be scaring clients away—and you don’t need a business coach to tell you that.

“White walls can be very intimidating,” says Leslie Vaughan, a creative color consultant. “They’ve always been thought of as clean, but they also inhibit touching, so it’s not very relaxing. To make customers, on a subconscious level, uncomfortable and agitated, fast-food restaurants use white walls with high-contrast colors to get them in and out quickly. If your carpet is also light, the space becomes touch-inhibitive, and people don’t even want to step into the space.”

Because white has a 100-percent light-reflection factor—think Conan O’Brien, who reflects back every iota of light that hits him—Leslie recommends painting your walls a color with 70-percent light reflection factor. (FYI—You can find a color’s light-reflection factor on the back of the paint can.) And if you think that painting your walls specific colors, like blue or green, will influence your clients’ behavior, think again.

Psychologically, blue can be calming, but if you leave someone in a blue room long enough, it would become stimulating, having the opposite effect,” says Leslie. “That’s true of all colors, even red.”

Floors, whether carpet or wood, should be in the same light reflection range as the walls. “For floors, the color matters less than the light-reflection factor. Pick a paint color first, then check its light reflection factor, and from there, pick a carpet that’s similar. Be careful not to pick a carpet that’s much lighter than the walls because that’ll give you a reflection off of that too.”

The next best thing to carpeting is wood flooring, which projects a warmth that seems to make people comfortable. “The reflection factor of the floors and the walls should be between 50- and 70-percent, that’s where people are most comfortable. After that you get into more intense accent colors, like the deep reds and greens. Those are better as accents, but not against a white wall. The trick is to keep the values close together. The contrast shouldn’t be too great. If you were to look at a paint deck—the strips that paint colors come in—usually every other color on that deck can be used as a contrast. So if your wall is a light color, skip a color and then your next highest value you could use as an accent.

“An office that you’re doing business in should be in neutral colors such as beige, something that looks professional,” continues Vaughan. “You can accent with colors like indigo blue or hunter green, because those colors have been noted in society as being trustworthy. A lot of banks and financial institutions use those colors, as do lawyers. Metallics can represent a higher socio-economic level. But again, everything depends on the particular clientele you’re serving.”

For example, if your office is decorated with the “power colors” (inferring authority) of gray and black furniture, and most of your clients are brides, it might give them the impression that you conduct your DJ business in an impersonal, distant way. This is, of course, great for corporate clients, who associate the black and gray with power, sophistication and seriousness. But in most cases, your brides-to-be are looking for a DJ who can give personal attention to their event. So, despite your warm personality, superior references and pages of testimonials, without an office painted in “warmer” colors, these brides may hesitate to hire you because of what your office is saying.

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