In this article Naja Li explains essential Feng Shui colour theory. Learn how the same theory is applied to both home and business – and why green is never going to fly for business success. Find out how colour connects you with your customers and which colours are best for driving sales.
What’s wrong with green?
The Daily Mail nailed it when they reported on how the Australian government chose khaki, now the world’s unsexiest colour, to adorn all cigarette packaging. As they report, Pantone 448C was chosen for cigarette packaging because the feeling of deep yuck it gives is supposed to put smokers off.
But you all already knew there was something up with green, right? Maybe you’ve noticed green brands underperforming – think Subway, the ultimate ‘coulda shoulda’ brand – in fact, you probably went to McDonalds instead (more on this later). Or bp who, despite extensive (or is that expensive) rebranding, still lags behind in mining and exploration. Poor bp, it’d be funny only it cost them a heap (it features in this ripper article on rebranding failures).
It starts, as so much does, with nature. Ask yourself, why do we love nature? The answer is we love it because fundamentally it is different. It’s not us, it’s something else. We feel it when we are out of doors, or looking at old National Geographics or when we’re being fascinated by David Attenborough. But always, always nature is not us, it’s out there.
Now let’s pick a colour for nature. Even if you lived in the dead red centre of Australia, you would probably dream green leaves when you closed your eyes and thought of nature’s hue. This greenness and nature’s connection to the quality of ‘otherness’ are key understandings in Feng Shui. For Feng Shui is about man being at peace and in harmony with nature – not as part of it.
The colours and natures of man
Central to Li Feng Shui is an understanding of humankind as represented by four directions and four colours. Our homes, like our bodies, sing to the number four and this aspect of fourness is represented by four colours.
These colours are deep inky blue (almost black), white, red and yellow. These four colours represent the quality of the movement of universal energy through our lives.
Red is the colour of Li, the power of the ancestors to motivate universal energy and bring love to our home. Red is also the colour of fame. Deep, dark, inky blue represents power, drive and creativity and is the energy of reproduction and the stamina for long life. White is suffering and our experience of life as bounded by time. Yellow is harvest and the reward that one reaps. Yellow also is the need, the want and the ability to feed oneself and to set a store for the future.
If you’ve already read a bit on this blog, you may recall the energy map. That map indicates four key aspects – or directions – in the home. You can plot colours on that map so it looks like this:
What can a colour do for me?
The reason why colours are important in Feng Shui is that the quality or energy of a colour represents a particular way of being. ‘Resonating’ is a very useful word to describe a particular affinity between one thing and another. Feng Shui is all about learning to live in harmony with the four qualities of universal energy so that a harmonious resonance is generated. It’s not about painting your house red so you can be famous (although you might be famous for doing this!), but about learning how to live a life that makes the most of a certain set of rules.
When we choose a colour for our business we are offering up a particular energetic resonance that people can tap into. Business is extraordinarily sensitive to colour because, in general, it’s based around the principle of fulfilling human needs. Real estate agents wear black because they want to tap into an attraction to power and authority. As my Melbourne Feng Shui Master has always taught, McDonalds dominates fast food all the world over because it taps into the energy of yellow (think harvest, food). Have a closer look at the map and you will see, energetically, how McDonalds has achieved global fame by throwing in a bit of red.
Choosing colours for business success
The point about choosing a colour for your business is to focus on what you do for people, not what you want to get out of it. So if your business is about removing suffering, then choose white for your logo (and maybe wear a white coat).
If you are a musician and you want to show – in colour – how your music touches people’s souls and drives their passions, then take it right down to the darkest blue. I’m thinking here of the cover of Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, one of the best selling records of all time.
If you want to be famous or grab people’s attention then use red – but watch out: red can be a bit of a cheap trick if you don’t have anything to back it up. To use red successfully you must have other elements of Feng Shui business success in place, otherwise you’ll languish with the IGA’s of the world.
When you choose a colour that resonates with the need you are trying to fulfil, then you make a powerful connection between your business and your customer. This principle of Feng Shui for business ensures a level of resonance with your customers that is very hard to beat.
Why green is never going to fly
The bottom line is that green represents the colour and quality of nature, and nature does not belong to the colours and qualities of man. To have good Feng Shui – indeed to be human – we must be at peace with nature. To do this we, almost paradoxically, need to be more like ourselves. We need to embrace the qualities and insights that make us human. According to Li Feng Shui we cannot succeed in life and love if we take on the quality of the thing with which we want to be at peace.
So how do we put this into practice? As you might have read in my Top Four Feng Shui Tips, if you want greenery in your home then just use cut flowers. When choosing colour schemes avoid green as a dominant colour. This applies equally to business – so no green in logos and advertising. This counts for double if you’re in the health industry because green is simply not a part of the energetic qualities of man. Use combinations of red, yellow, white or blue / black instead.
Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you have enjoyed this article. You may have noticed that what is offered on this site is strikingly different to other theories. Since my perspective also differs from that of my Melbourne teacher, I feel the need to explain that I only present teachings from the Li tradition. Why the teachings differ is a matter for historians; it is simply my task to offer you Li, a Feng Shui for everyone.
Wishing you Health and Happiness,