Hey girl, I get it, not everyone naturally knows how to work with color. So, the very idea of color branding can be overwhelming.
But as business owners we simply can’t avoid the fact that color affects sales. Big Time. In fact, they say people’s product decisions are based 60-80% on color alone.
I’ll let you in on a secret, if you spend time on this now you will be so far ahead of the game. This opens doors. Color branding done well is a golden ticket in your hand. Here is your opportunity to create and grow a brand that will attract and inspire your customers. You are going to dazzle them girl! (And look behind you – everyone else has their head in the sand, they are disappearing into the background!) But not you!
So, what do you do?
You know you need to select brand colors. You know that your choice of the right colors will strengthen people’s association with your brand. You know it also has the potential to instantly increase your sales, but how do you make the ‘right’ choice?
I’ve been there, even as a designer, I know it takes more than choosing your favourite colors when you are branding your business. I understand that color palettes can be overwhelming when you’re looking for colors that will make a great first impression and tell your brand story. Personally, I looked for the fastest and easiest way to pick brand colors and it was not easy or fast. So, after that I developed a very simple system that will help others get the right colors every time.
This system makes color branding your business fun! It inspires you all over again to do what you’re doing well. My aim is to take the pressure off and let you dream again. Even better, by following my system, you will choose the perfect brand colors to connect emotionally with your clients. They will be lining up to buy from you. Because of these colors your target market will not only remember, but relate to, and trust your brand. The colors you choose will speak to your target market’s imagination and warm their hearts.
Step 1 – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Ok, hands off the color wheel for a second. First you need to ask yourself ‘Who are my people?’ When you get a real understanding of the real people who make up your target market, when you know your audience, color branding your business becomes easy.
To get a simple picture of your target audience ask yourself 5 questions
- Age range? – how old are they?
- Gender? – you just can’t suit everybody
- Habitat? – are they city, or country people or in between?
- Common Problem? – What are their struggles? What’s their #1 struggle?
- Future Goals? – What are their life dreams and wishes?
All this matters when you are choosing brand colors because your target audience may have a preference or be drawn to a specific color. Your job is to find out what they like, do some digging, find out where they hang out, what they already buy and who already has their attention online. Understanding this will help you to choose colors that will automatically attract your customers.
Step 2 – Give Your Brand a Personality
How do you want people to feel when they visit your business online? How do you want people to talk about your brand?
Just like a person, your brand will leave an impression on people. Your brand will evoke emotions in them. The best news is that how your brand behaves is your choice. Your choice. When you decide on a personality for your brand early, it’s so much easier the market to your ideal customer.
Deciding on a brand personality is a bit like decorating your office. It’s a very simple thing to do but it will not only attract specific customers but also set the ground rules for how they behave around your business. This is a wonderful point of difference and it can make ‘going to work’ so much fun!
Start by thinking of words to represent your business and make a list. None of us are single word people, we’re complex creatures, and your brand will also be a lot of things and this is great because it broadens your audience.
Look for words that describe the personality you want for your brand– energetic, sassy, unique, helpful, sexy, smart, stylish, quirky, feminine, encouraging, powerful, trendy, caring. You may like to try on some of the words in the list of brand words below.
Focus on what sets you apart. What are your key points of difference?
From your big list you want to make a second list of your 5 top differentiators. Choose 5 words that say 5 very different things about you. These are going to be the ones that best represent your brand.
For example you could finish with: Stylish, Fun, Unique, Inspirational and Trendy.
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Step 3 – CREATE A MOOD BOARD
It time to get inspired, this is the part that is so much fun. So lets go…
With your 5 Brand Personality words decided it’s time to create a mood board. For your mood board you’ll need to collect around 30-50 images that represent your 5 brand words. Search for photographs, quotes, fonts, textures, fabrics, colors or graphics. No need to find the perfect image this is all about getting your creativity going and your inspiration flowing.
Find anything that makes you feel good – landscapes, art people, flowers, patterns, typography etc the image itself doesn’t matter, you are looking for emotions that represent your 5 words. For example, if you are going for vibrant you’ll need bright colors and a lot of light.
To find your images search on Pinterest, Instagram and Google. The easiest way to search is to expand out from your 5 brand words. Always include the word, for example, if I am trying to represent inspiration, I would type ‘inspirational quotes’. Or if I am searching feminine, I might try searching for ‘girl wearing a feminine dress’.
I have found that the easiest way to collect and save images is with Pinterest. It is totally free and you just need to sign up for an account.
Simply create a new board and start pinning.
Just make sure your board is a secret board, as you will be using images you do not own.
That way when you add a pin to your board, it won’t show up anywhere else on Pinterest.
To make your board a secret: Click on the board you want to make secret > Select “Keep this board secret” >Click Save.
As you go through this process you will find that you naturally add more words to your list, and you begin to fall in love with different patterns and themes that begin to emerge. The whole process is very inspirational!
Pro Tip – If you love an image on Pinterest scroll down and find the “related pins” to see more of the same kinds of images.
At this point it can get pretty overwhelming with the number of images on offer but just stay focused and keep coming back to your main brand words.
If you need more images you can also check out stock photo websites, such as:
Now it is time to look at the board as a whole trend and common colors will start to emerge.
Review your images and ask yourself, do these images represent the personality I would like to give my brand? Bin any images that don’t match the tone or feel that you want for your brand. Sift through for images that don’t quite align with your brand words. Then sift for unimportant images, ones that simply don’t belong in the overall mood and remove them too.
Go back to your 5 brand words. Ask yourself, are all 5 represented here? If not, go searching for images to represent that word.
*note: the images you find for creating this particular mood board will not be used as your brand’s identity, for example on your website, blog or marketing material. The images on Pinterest, Instagram and Google are not free to use and are owned by the creator. These images will just be used for inspiration.
Step 4 – Extract the Colors from Your Mood Board
Subconsciously you have already done most of the work. What you will notice, when you sit back and admire the mood board you have just created, is that all through it, there are similar patterns, colors and styles.
Now all that is left is to extract the colors to create your brand colors!
Have a look at your images and ask yourself:
- What colors are you seeing the most in your mood board?
- What is the main color?
- What is the 2nd most common color you are seeing?
For example, in the mood board above, pink is seen most, so this would be the main color, after pink the 2nd most common color is gold. (After gold we see pastel shades, blue, purple, skin tones, yellow, pale pink, and finally we see smatterings of black and white.)
So where to from here?
There are several tools that can help you extract colors you can use:
You can upload your mood board and the software will detect the colors automatically, and they will recommend colors for you based on your images. So helpful when it comes to narrowing down your palette.
Step 5 – Refine your Color Palette
The final step in the process is to use the main colors you have chosen from your mood board to expand out your color palette.
Rule of thumb when you are branding your business is to have no more than 6 brand colors and stick to them. This includes the colors in everything you create. Think – logo, images, graphics, website, packaging and photography.
Start by choosing 6 colors:
1-2 main colors
2 neutral colors
2 accent colors this will include a dark color for the body text.
If the six don’t feel right remember it’s always about balance and there will be instances where you may have to select more or less.
The 2 main colors are the colors that best represent your brand. You will use these the most. (Often as your background, border, banners, main colors in images)
The secondary colors will be neutral colors that naturally compliment your main colors and your accent colors and are generally used when you need a second color for balance. Often the secondary color will be used to break up large areas of your main color, or as a background to your accents.
The accent colors are generally vibrant and complement the whole color palette, they are used to grab your audience’s attention, for example you would use your accent color on your logo and for a call to action button. Remember to use in small doses. In the design world the recommended proportion of total accent colors is 10%.
Now, when selecting your colors and their importance to your brand, you will want to keep in mind color psychology. Different colors evoke different emotions and feelings in people. The guide below gives an outline of the basic colors and emotions they evoke.
So, if you are a yoga teacher you will want to use colors that are calming. Using color psychology and keeping in mind the emotions connected to each color would lead you to select shades of blue and green.
Now for those who would like more assistance with choosing shades of color there are a variety of tools out there to make your life so much simpler.
These websites have loads of pre-created color palettes you can use for color ideas and inspiration.
You can also find colors with a color finder. Pantone has a really great one, you simply click on the shade you like and it will bring you up the color code. You can check it our here: pantone.com/color-finder
I have also created a Brand Style Guide, Color Palette and Mood Board Template to help you with your branding. Enter your details below to get your free templates.
-putting together a few different combinations.
– remember to note down the hex color
– come up with several different options.
– Don’t forget to have fun!
Branding your business with a unique personality and choosing brand colors that will reflect that personality will give your business a distinct identity.
It’s a system for success and so much fun to do!
I really recommend you taking the time to get to know your target market and craft your brand’s personality based on what your target market needs. Go crazy brainstorming words to describe your business and enjoy creating your mood board. Have fun with it and be inspired to let your business personality grow. Choosing brand colors that really reflect your business personality – will say so much. This simple combination of personality and color branding makes sales so much easier as they will automatically attract your ideal customer – the very people who need you the most.