Going green around the gills

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If you take a look at the covers of fashion magazines, you might notice they rarely feature the colour green.

People working at glossy magazines have long believed green covers do not sell, and therefore the colour should be avoided at all costs.

Digging into this story a little further, it turns out no one is sure why this belief is so widely held.

There does not seem to be much evidence to support it, and explanations vary from green being particularly difficult to print to a theory about harsh fluorescent lights making green look washed out on newsagent stands. A few insiders will privately admit the bias against using green on magazine covers might just be based on superstition.

It is funny to think how many decisions are still made in business based on hunches and intuition, especially when it is has never been easier to test assumptions, and when there is now so much data to delve into.

At Hotfoot, the approach we always take with new clients is to try to assume as little as possible. Of course, we do loads of research before a first meeting, and we have often worked for other companies in the same business sector as our prospective client, so we have lots of pre-existing knowledge.

But when it comes to that first meeting, we always ask questions that might seem obvious on the surface, because those questions often lead to answers along the lines of: “That is just what we have always done.” And that can lead to a conversation about doing things differently, which can help clients achieve their objectives much more effectively. It can even lead to entirely new opportunities, and a few months later we will have helped launch a completely new product or service.

This way of thinking has helped start-ups in Silicon Valley become successful. Every day Google, Facebook and others run hundreds of tests across millions of users in an endless quest to improve their performance.

Google once tested 41 very slightly different shades of blue to discover which one would be clicked on the most.

That might be taking things to an extreme, but in every business there are assumptions just waiting to be tested.

And the results might surprise you.

By Guy Cookson, Partner at Hotfoot Design