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Colour could be key to success at work and play

Colour could be having a big impact on success both in the boardroom and on the football pitch, according to E.ON - the company that runs Powergen and sponsors The FA Cup.

The Colour and Imaging Group at the Department of Colour and Polymer Chemistry, University of Leeds, analysed the logos of all FTSE 100 companies and the shirts of every football team that have made the FA Cup Quarter Finals over the last 20 years, to find out if their success could be related to their colour (1).

The research found that over a third of the most successful teams in The FA Cup wear red home shirts. In the last ten years, just four teams have won the FA Cup including red giants Arsenal, Liverpool and this year's FA Cup finalists, Manchester United. They will play Chelsea in blue, the second most popular colour, worn by more than a quarter of teams.

And it seems that colour has a similar influence in the boardroom to on the pitch. Blue is the most popular corporate logo colour, with 49% of FTSE 100 companies since 1987 using it for their logos. Just nine companies have stayed in the FTSE 100 constantly over the last 20 years, and seven of these have blue logos including Unilever, Royal Bank of Scotland and ICI.

Red is also one of the most popular colours for business, including E.ON, (19%) with some of the country's most successful companies in the FTSE 100 since 1987 using it as their flagship colour including Ladbroke Group, Vodafone and Prudential.

Stephen Scales, spokesperson from University of Leeds' Colour and Imaging Group, said: "It's already been proven that the colour of a sports shirt may be an important factor in players' performance. When it comes to business, we are all part of a company 'team' and so colour could have a similar effect on how we all work."

"However, wearing red obviously doesn't mean teams will score more goals, or having a blue brand doesn't guarantee business success! But it could be that people subconsciously adopt the characteristics of these colours and in turn become more successful."

Experts at the University of Leeds define the colour red as 'strong', 'fast', 'dynamic', 'active' and 'brave' (2) , all characteristics that a football team would need to do well on the pitch. It was also found that the more 'exciting' (3) a colour feels, the more likely it is to be dominant in a football shirt - red also feels the most 'exciting'.

Stephen Scales explains; "Studies have found that blue is the most liked colour in the UK which is perhaps why it's popular with banks such as Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, but it isn't rated as 'exciting' as red because it is more neutral."

Peter Haigh, director of E.ON UK's B2B Business, says; "The colour red signifies dynamism, action and of course, energy, so that's why it works well as the colour behind Powergen and E.ON. And we hope to bring that same energy to our support for The FA Cup."

Manchester United once changed the colour of their strip from red to dull grey. Famously, manager Alex Ferguson ditched the kit at half-time during a dismal performance against Southampton and ordered the team to change into a blue and white strip. The shirts are now a collector's item and a well-known example of the negative impact colour can have on a team's performance.

Notes to editors:

(1) Colours were defined according to 12 basic colour terms; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, white, grey, black and turquoise

(2) Based on research of colour emotion for sports shirts by Iwase et al

(3) The colours were also measured using CIELAB values to give each colour a score so they could be rated in terms of colour emotion using scales of 'warm-cool', 'heavy-light', 'active-passive' and 'exciting-calm'.

E.ON is not only sponsor of The FA Cup, but also The FA Women's Cup competition, The FA Youth Cup, and we are The FA Schools Partner within the overall FA Development Programme including the educational project called "Up for the Cup";

E.ON is the leading energy retailer to UK industry and commerce through the E.ON Energy brand, and provides electricity and gas to over 500,000 small business (SME) customers in the UK as Powergen;

E.ON is part of the E.ON group - the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company;

The Department of Colour and Polymer Chemistry at the University of Leeds is an international centre of excellence in a subject that has evolved far beyond the textile dyes it first researched in the 1870s. Colour science at Leeds includes the synthesis and application of colorants and polymers, the technology of colour imaging, the measurement of the colour and appearance of materials, the management of colour in production, and the psychology of colour in architecture and product design. The department offers access to research, education and innovation from the first concept to its practical application.

For further information: 

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

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