At last, the highly anticipated US Presidential Debate. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage and square off to win over voters, but when it comes to the business of running a country, politicians rely on more than just a solid campaign; they rely heavily on their image.

When it comes to non-verbal forms of communication, appearance is one of the most powerful tools we possess. With high stakes and fierce competition, these candidates leave nothing to chance, instead turning to the professionals to strategize and shape a winning image. The focus has little to do with fashion, and everything to do with messaging. There is a definite strategy surrounding the choice of color for each candidate.  Colors produce a chemical reaction in our brains, invoking a particular emotion. For example, in professional sports, the change room of the opposing team is often painted in shades of pink as this color lacks energy and produces feelings of fatigue. In contrast, the “green rooms” that accommodate guest before stepping on to live television are in fact painted green for the calming and relaxing effect.

So what was the intent behind Hillary Clinton’s red suit? Red is a color associated with both aggression and passion. It signals assertiveness and power. A choice carefully selected to enhance her political image and positioning against her larger than life male opponent. In contrast, Donald Trump opted for a shade of blue for his tie, a popular choice on the campaign trail based on its association with trust and intelligence. Wardrobe including color is carefully selected based on how the candidate wishes to be perceived.

While candidates ought to be judged on their merit and on the substance of their message, it’s essential that they prepare and strategize their non-verbal communication as well. Candidates have a carefully crafted agenda on how they wish to be perceived, wardrobe and color choice can help achieve this. Image can have a profound impact on political strategy and for one of these candidates a winning image can be the win they need!