When designing colour is paramount, it’s something which plays an incredibly important role. It’s an extremely influential element, it’s something which evokes certain emotions and reactions for every individual. A colour can mean one thing to someone but something completely different to another. Whenever we look at a colour, a natural event takes place, a visceral connection is automatically made.
Colours can be classified into numerous groups, but the most basic and generic level of grouping is into groups of warm, cool and neutral colours. Warm colours is the range from red to yellow. Cool colours range are green, blue and purple and variations of the three. The final group is neutral colours, these are colours are much subtle, they include black, white, grey as well as brown, beige, tan, cream etc.
The role which colour has within the world of branding is pivotal, people may not understand the influence which colour can play on someone when making a choice on purchasing a product or service. Satyendra Singh from the Department of Administrative Studies at the University of in Canada, in her journal ‘Impact of color on marketing’ discovered that people make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with people or a product and that about 62-90 percent of their assessment is based on colours alone.
Colour can become so influential that we can associate certain properties of a brand simply from their main colour. We associate Apple with white, Facebook with Blue, Coca-Cola with red, John Deere with green and so on. It’s so important that some companies even have trademark protection on their colours blocking competitors from using it. A study (Source) performed by the University of Loyola in Maryland found that a colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Therefore you can not dispute the insurmountable evidence which demonstrates how important colour is.
With all this available information, what can we then discover about colour and the impact it has on the world of football. With football having such a deep and rice history, it’s impossible to understand the colour choices behind every team but by looking at some particular teams we can begin to form some analysis. Like global companies, football teams are brands. Manchester have a global fan base of 659 million fans, which helps to make Manchester United as one of the biggest brands in the world.
In Manchester United’s earliest years, did the people responsible for their colours have reasoning behind their choices? Unlike today, no research or very little had taken place into the psychology of colour. Manchester United’s earliest kit is believed to be red-and-white quartered shirts with blue shorts. Continuos colour changes were made in the earlier years, between 1894-96, they had green and gold jerseys which was then replaced by white shirts with blue shorts in 1896. It wasn’t until 1902 when they changed their name from Newton Heath LYR Football Club to Manchester United that they had settled on the colours which we see today, the famous red shirts, white shorts and black socks.
This is just the brief history of one particular football club but every club in the world has their own story. Some have little reasoning behind their colour choices such as Boca Juniors who apparently adopted the colours of blue and yellow simply because they lost a match resulting in the penalty of having to choose the colours of the first boat that sail into port. As the first vessel to sail in was a Swedish boat, their colours then had to the yellow and blue of the Swedish flag. Whereas with other teams, there is cultural and geographical significance behind their choices, SSC Napoli light blue colours derived from the blue wasters of the Gulf of Naples and with Celtic, their famous green and white colours are in homage to their Irish connection.
Football teams are and will always be associated with their colours, the majority of teams nicknames revolve around their colours. Manchester United are nicknamed ‘The Red Devils’, Chelsea FC are ‘The Blues and Real Madrid are ‘Los Blancos’ (The Whites). These three teams have become so closely associated with colours, that they can be referred simply be their colour.
An interesting story is the history of Juventus FC and their colours and kit. In the early 20th century, Juventus asked one of their team members if he had any contacts back in the UK who could supply the club with a kit which could withstand the elements better than their current pink kit. The player had a friend in Nottingham who supplied the team with a white and black striped kit. To this day Juventus have carried on wearing this kit because they felt the colours were aggressive and powerful. Here we have a perfect example in the emotion and reactions that a certain colour can evoke.
Like Manchester United, Liverpool FC’s initial kit colours were not their iconic all red of today but were blue and white quartered shirts. They adopted the city’s colour of red in 1894 but didn’t play in a full red strip until the mid 1960s. The first time they played in an all red kit was against Anderlecht and a former player of Liverpool recalled in his autobiography:
He [Shankly] thought the colour scheme would carry psychological impact—red for danger, red for power. He came into the dressing room one day and threw a pair of red shorts to Ronnie Yeats. “Get into those shorts and let’s see how you look”, he said. “Christ, Ronnie, you look awesome, terrifying. You look 7ft tall.” “Why not go the whole hog, boss?” I suggested. “Why not wear red socks? Let’s go out all in red.” Shankly approved and an iconic kit was born.
From this extract we can clearly see that the psychology of colour played a pivotal role in the selection of a clubs colours, the all red kit of Liverpool created the aura of power and strength in Liverpool’s favour.
From what I’ve found during my research I’ve discovered that on many occasions, teams during their earlier years experimented with colours and designs in order to find their true identity or ‘brand’. Some of the worlds most famous clubs have derived their colours from surprising circumstances whist others were chosen from they emotion and reaction they evoked amongst the opposition. However in all cases, the colour of the club has evolved into something so powerful and important that just like brands, we associate certain teams with certain colours.
One further point, a study (Source) was carried out in 2007 by several students from the School of Biological Sciences in Plymouth and the Evolutionary Anthropology Research Group in Durham. They wanted to investigate the influence colour has amongst sports steams and from their research, they discovered that the colour ‘red’ is associated with long-term team success in English football. Whether or not, this is down to the passionate and powerful meanings that the colour red has behind it or it’s just a case of imitation amongst the top teams, it just goes to show how important colour can be.