When exploring the seemingly boundless show floor at The PPAI Expo this year, one of the most apparent themes was color—and every booth featuring apparel was awash in it. It was refreshing that for every rack of monochromatic neutrals, there was another of bold, brilliant shades. Whether a client’s needs call for cheeky bubble-gum pink tees, tropical lime-green polos or splashy electric-blue caps, color is a tried-and-true way to draw attention to brands and campaigns. Apart from strategic design, color is also an organic way of appealing to the wider needs and tastes of consumers.

Tapping The Influence Of Color

Aside from adding dimension to campaign collateral, color can be used to intentionally illicit emotion. Red, for example, is symbolic of power. As the color of fire and blood, and the color of choice for romance, red is connected with intensity and passion, and is associated with stamina, strength, conflict, danger, willpower, desire and love, according to Color Wheel Pro. Red is also one of the most-used colors in marketing and branding—think Coca-Cola, Netflix and YouTube.

Opposite the color wheel is green, which carries opposing connotations to red. Green, according to Shutterstock, symbolizes mindfulness, wellness, charity, tranquility, cleanliness and wealth. It is inviting, calming and one of the easiest colors for our minds to process. Naturally, green has been used to market brands in the food and beverage and outdoor industries—think Whole Foods Market, Starbuck’s, Land Rover and John Deer.

Consider how much more effective it would be to use a branded green tee to promote the cleanup of a local state park. Or, how much more in-tune it would be to distribute red, logoed drawstring bags to raise awareness for a cause like unfair labor practices. If the color choices were switched, the tees would not carry as strong of a message. Consumers may recall your logo and even your brand—but the first detail they’ll notice is color.

A Subliminal Message

Color processing is largely subconscious—we might realize that we are seeing an orange tee, but our conscious minds don’t walk us through processing this awareness. In the same vein, color can affect how people behave. In 2004, psychologists Russell Hill and Robert Barton studied the effects of red versus blue kits in combat sports, like boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA), given to athletes  participating in the 2004 Summer Olympics. The researchers found that athletes given the red kits were five percent more likely to win than those given blue kits. In another study that tested how color influences behavior, a group of interior designers, architects and corporate scientists designed three bars for a cocktail party: a red bar, a blue bar and a yellow bar. According to the New York Times, more guests opted to visit the yellow bar, but those at the blue bar lingered longer. Guests at the red and yellow bars were more interactive and animated, but red bar patrons reported feeling hungry and thirsty throughout, while those at the yellow bar consumed twice as much food as the others. This outcome was indicative of the subconscious power of color, as yellow and red are known to trigger feelings of hunger.

For a style that’s easily spotted and easy on the eyes, the Vansport Pro Highlight Polo (Style 2455) features architectural details with a tonal micro stripe on the front and back, and a cool, tilt-stripe detail on the front. The tee also has UV and antimicrobial properties, designed for lengthy sun exposure. Available in men’s S-3XL in black, navy, royal and orange (shown).

Vantage Apparel  /  PPAI 113235   /   www.vantageapparel.com


Bring an alfresco look and feel to your hospitality uniform. This resort-inspired, camp-style polo features a delicate all-over tonal palm print in an alluring shade of ocean blue. With UV protection and antimicrobial and moisture-wicking properties, your client will be ready for the great outdoors. Available in men’s S-5XL and women’s XS-3XL, also in seagull grey and sunset orange.

Vantage Apparel  /  PPAI 113235  /  www.vantageapparel.com


For a look that’s fun and carefree, the Hanes Adult ComfortWash Garment Dyed Short Sleeve Pocket Tee adds personality to the classic t-shirt. Made from 100 percent ring-spun cotton that is guaranteed not to shrink, the tee is vintage-washed and garment-dyed for an on-trend finish. Details include a double-needle, double-seamed neck with a lay-flat collar, a twill label and neck tape, shoulder-to-shoulder tape and a sewn-in label. Available in unisex sizes S-3XL in 21 colors, shown here in coral craze.

Hanes/Champion  PPAI 191139  /  www.hanes.com


Neon? No problem. For a bold pop of color in a look that’s inspired by the disco days, this Custom-Dyed Neon Graffiti T-Shirt brings modern edge and fierce personality to any campaign. The handmade element guarantees a one-of-a-kind tee, with customizable options for the base garment, dye colors and dye design. The eye-catching hues are sure to attract constant brand attention.

Kerr’s Cotton Creations  /  PPAI 313486  /  www.kerrscotton.com


For on-the-go gals with busy schedules, the Aloha polo boasts comfort, moisture-wicking properties and snag resistance—all in one classic look. The hybrid-cooler fabric is lightweight and breathable, keeping wearers cool, while its self-fabric graphic-edged collar and lined placket resists against curling for a clean look every time. Available in XS-2XL in 13 colors, shown here in apple green/graphite.

Pro-Celebrity (Tee Top of California, Inc.)  /  PPAI 181929   /   www.goprocelebrity.com


Add color to your next campaign with the Hit Sport-Wick Stretch Half-Zip Pullover-Ladies’ performance top in this savory shade of pink rush. It boasts a flattering contoured silhouette designed for comfort, with a stretch, moisture-wicking blend of 90 percent polyester and 10 percent spandex. Additional details include thumb holes, a front pouch pocket, raglan sleeves and a cadet collar and taped neck. Available in XS-3XL in 17 colors. A coordinating men’s style is also available. 

Hit Promotional Products  /  PPAI 113910  /  www.hitpromo.net


If you’re seeking a high-quality men’s polo in a color that’s sure to stand out, the Pegasus is a premier choice. Perfect for the coach of a school sports team or for enthusiastic golfers, this polo is made from 100 percent micro polyester with moisture-wicking yarn, designed to keep wearers cool, while its anti-microbial properties shield against unpleasant odor. Its interlocking knit, embossed ottoman-weave pattern provides softness and style, while its fused lining in the placket and collar prevent wrinkling after washing. Available in S-3XL in 10 colors, shown in royal/gold.

Pro-Celebrity (Tee Top of California, Inc.)  /  PPAI 181929  /  www.goprocelebrity.com


Designing merch for an outdoor event? A race scheduled to raise money for a cause, perhaps, or a weekend basketball game intended to do the same? Keep attendees cool in the hot sun while ensuring front-and-center brand exposure. The Vapor Solar Headband, available in four- and eight-inch versions, is designed to be fully sublimated, with UPX 50+ sun protection and moisture-wicking technology to boot. Wearers can use the headband long after the event, bringing continued exposure to the cause.

Vapor Apparel  /  PPAI 398237  /  www.vaporapparel.com


Lightweight and sporty, trendy and breathable, the Ladies Cosmic Fleece Quarter Zip is a fresh take on women’s athletic wear. The high-visibility color ensures that your brand receives front-and-center focus, while adding a safety element for wearers during outdoor, daytime runs. Made from 100 percent spun polyester fleck fleece, details include contrast stitching on the zipper and pockets, thumbholes on the cuffs and a front pouch pocket. Available in S-3XL in 11 colors, shown in emerald/neon yellow.

America Blanks   /   PPAI 351699   /   www.jamericablanks.com


Let’s face it—we’re all in search of that one go-to tee that matches with everything and is super comfortable, no matter the occasion. Look no further than the Men’s Go-To T-Shirt, a simple, clean option, fit for adorning with a logo or graphics to promote a campaign. Made from 100 percent cotton, details include a set-in ribbed neckband, double needle stitching detail and a tear-away tag. Available in XS-3XL in 30 colors, shown here in heather royal.

Hanes/Champion  /  PPAI 191139   /   www.hanes.com


Perfect for a day spent cheering in the stands, soaking up the sun’s rays at the beach or simply for everyday wear, the Offroad is a cap that’ll add character to your brand—and the wearer’s getup. Made from 100 percent vintage-washed cotton twill and soft 100 percent polyester mesh, the cap bears an unstructured, low profile with an adjustable snap-back closure in a one-size-fits-most style. Choose from 20 jazzy colors, shown in wild berry.

America Blanks  /    PPAI 351699  /  www.jamericablanks.com


Perfect for staff working an event, like a recognition ceremony or award luncheon, the Under Armour Corp Performance Polo-Men’s is made from 95 percent polyester and five percent elastane, offering four-way stretch for comfort and all-around mobility. The shirt also boasts performance qualities, like anti-pick, anti-pill, snag-free fabric with anti-odor technology and 30+ UPF sun protection. Available in S-XL in 10 colors, shown in red.

Hit Promotional Products   /   PPAI 113910   /   www.hitpromo.net


For happening headwear that incorporates color-blocking details, the Ollie (OL201) is a snazzy take on the ol’ baseball cap. The distressed, torn visor and pigment dye front panels make for a worn, vintage look, which is complemented by the traditional tan nylon back mesh panels. Available in 24 boldly brilliant colors, shown in navy/tangerine.


Adams By Whispering Pines Sportswear  /   PPAI 215465   /   www.wpsportswear.com


A top choice for promoting an eco-friendly event or cause, the REPREVE Recycled/Cotton Crew T-Shirt is made in the USA from recycled water bottles. With a soft hand, each tee prevents five to six water bottles from entering America’s landfills. The tee includes “water bottle tags,” which inform the wearer of the tee’s sustainable qualities. Available in unisex sizes S-2XL in 22 colors, shown here in green.

Vapor Apparel  /  PPAI 398237   /   www.vaporapparel.com


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.