Why Sports Team Loyalty and Color Aversion Go Hand in Hand

You will NEVER see me wearing the colors green and yellow together. You will NEVER see me wearing purple, either. Actually, I follow the same guidelines when I buy pretty much anything in the stores. If I’m looking for a particular item and it’s only available in those colors, then I’m not buying it. Heck, I wouldn’t even take it for free! Why you ask? It’s simple…

I’m a loyal, die hard, fan of the sports teams I like, and absolutely refuse to wear or buy anything that prominently features the team colors of their rivals (Well… MAYBE if I lost a bet). To some I’m sure it may seem petty, but I take this stuff seriously! I just can’t look at something featuring the colors of my most hated rivals and NOT think of them. I’m sure I’m not alone in this!

When I attended the University of Illinois, it was almost blasphemous to wear any bold color other than orange or blue. Think about it – that’s tens of thousands of people just in central Illinois with the same tastes and biases. I would be shocked if there were many stores in the area hoping to sell much maize (yellow) and blue apparel resembling the University of Michigan.

When you understand your target audience, you can better choose colors they'll like and colors they'll avoid.

When you understand your target audience, you can better choose colors they'll like and colors they'll avoid.

Sports loyalty is just one (extreme) example of how something as simple as the choice of color can affect the value or suitability of any given product. But it can serve a greater point. Ever wonder why a website may not have as many visits as hoped? Pinks, purples, and most pastels–even in small amounts–would be an obviously poor choice for a website designed for men (if I go a site and there are flowers and kittens, then I probably won’t stay long). Just like grays, blacks, and other industrial colors may be a poor choice for a website catered to women.

I don’t mean to be color biased, but it’s true to a degree, isn’t it?

In home improvement shows, we’re always told to paint rooms in neutral colors. Does everyone really LOVE neutral colors? I highly doubt it. But they don’t push people away. And in this instance, that’s the main purpose. On the flip side (using my previous example), if a site about the University of Illinois used all neutral colors and didn’t have orange and blue in it, it would be dry, bland, and unlikely to attract visitors.

It’s all about understanding your target audience and customers, even in regard to the colors you choose for your logo, advertising materials, and website. You want to attract as many people as possible and repel as few as possible. Many times it is easy and clear how to do this (like if you’re going to advertise in Chicago, then don’t make anything look like “Packer Central”). But other times it can be more convoluted.

How does a news website look bright and interesting, but not annoying? How does a company create an attention-getting logo without driving away customers who avoid certain colors?

Image Credits


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. QLP Jill

    You know, I’ve never really thought about color preference and sports team loyalty, but it REALLY makes sense. (For example…I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the QLP colors are orange and blue – Bret and Mike are hardcore Chicago Bears fans.)

    I’m not a big sports person, so I can’t attest to any personal examples. However, I really enjoyed reading this post and I did have something to offer on the subject of website colors. I’m not necessarily turned off by certain color schemes unless they’re jarring or eye-straining to look at. The 1990s template-based sites with high contrast color combos are the only websites I’ll navigate away from based on color. People need to use a color scheme tool before selecting company colors or site colors! You might REALLY love purple and lime green, but will your customers love looking at it for more than a minute at a time? 🙂

  2. Chase

    The Ohio State University scarlet and grey! Need I say more?

  3. Bret Bonnet

    Is “transparent” considered a color option – JK?

    If I owned a major sports franchise, our colors would be white on white. If your logic (above) is correct, my team should then be the most widely successful sporting franchise in the world!

    On a more SERIOUS note, I think that’s why Mike and I chose orange and blue for the QLP logo. We’re both die hard Bears fans, and there are times I seriously wish I’d bleed orange and blue… not only because it would be COOL; but it would be easier to clean up afterwards (red stands out too much!).

  4. Vernon

    Hmmm!?!?! A post centered on color biases *quietly leaves*

    If you look at a lot of merchant websites they are generally very cold when it comes to colors, just to appear unisex. Good post Jeff

  5. Kyle

    I totally agree with the points you brought up. Color has such an impact on what I buy. I don’t even necessarily think about it consciously while shopping, but taking a step back to look at the big picture I can definitely say the color of a product lends so much to that product’s appeal.

  6. Laura Porretto

    They say taupe is very soothing 🙂

    I think it is also very interesting how one color can be associated with a team. In college there is no better example than the plethora of orange that is specific to a college and could be its own crayon (i.e. Tennessee Orange, Texas Orange, and Illini Orange). Lord have mercy on you if you buy the wrong orange for these fans.

    On the other hand organizations can use color to simply to promote their message and raise awareness. People will buy anything in that color just to be associated with that. Clothing retailer Gap teamed up with AIDS awareness organizations to create a product line of apparel with the words (red) on every shirt all in the color red. Every time I went into the store they were sold out because people wanted to buy the shirt for its charitable association.

    It’s amazing how much we don’t think about the affect colors have on our purchases but they conciously or subconciously do.

    • JPorretto

      So true. There’s a HUGE difference between Illini Orange and Tennessee Orange. HUGE I say!

  7. JJ "Suite G"

    This post definitely brings the value of color to my attention. I honestly haven’t thought about it for a while, so it’s weird to think about it now. Color-schemes are a integral part of branding marketing, and many businesses tend to forget that. And you’re absolutely right: the color-scheme of a website probably has a direct effect on the site’s overall traffic.

  8. LK

    Colors on a website totally influence how long I will stay for. If the website is too bland and looks boring- I get bored and think this company didn’t care enough to put effort into making it look sweet. On the opposite end, I’ll also leave sooner (maybe even right away) if the colors are way too loud and crazy.

  9. LGroce

    I’ve never really thought about this either, but my high school was scarlet and gray and I can’t remember the last pair of tennis shoes I bought that didn’t have red in them.

  10. Jo Green

    Wow, you’ve really made an interesting point! When I applied to University, I was stuck between two very similar school selections, and I picked one over the other because I liked their sports colors better!

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