How to Choose Your Brand Colours Using Colour Psychology
An introduction to using colour psychology to create your brand visual identity – what it is and how it will help you.
Create the right impression for your business, with a brand that reflects you and stands out, by designing your brand visual identity using colour psychology (as well as seasonal colour theory – see my previous blog: An Introduction to Seasonal Colour Theory).
Your visual brand
Your visual branding gives you the whole look and feel of your brand, your brand visual identity. Your colours, fonts, patterns and textures, graphics, plus also your brand photo style, logo, website design and more.
You need to create a cohesive and consistent brand so that it all goes together to help make your brand recognisable, and memorable. If you read my previous blog, you’ll see that using seasonal colour theory to do this will mean that your whole brand looks amazing, and professional, reflects you, and appeals to your ideal clients/customers. Even when you’ve designed it all yourself.
Choosing your brand colours using colour psychology too, will ensure that the colours you use really do mean something and help give the right impression that you want for your brand. So read on whether you’re starting your brand colour choice from the beginning, or if you already have your brand colours you can still check that they are working effectively for you and giving the right impression of your brand.
Every colour has a meaning: it gives us a particular feeling or thought – often totally subconciously. For instance, red means danger, yellow is cheerful, green is for health and nature, blue is calm and trustworthy.
There are a lot more to it than those though, and I list some more below for you. (Interestingly our response to some colours is cultural too. For instance black means mourning in the West, but white, purple or gold are used in other cultures).
Colour has an effect on us too. Being in a room that is a warmer colour, makes us feel warmer than if the room were a cooler colour. Black or very dark colours have a slimming effect. Orange, yellow and red flowers stand out and look nearer to us than cooler and paler flowers the same distance away. All these effects are used by artists and fashion, interiors, and garden designers.
We can use effects like these, and the meanings of colours in our brand colours too.
Choosing your brand colours using colour psychology
So don’t just pick a couple of your favourite colours, think about the meanings behind them, and their effects. Consider your brand values and what you want your brand to feel and look like, and which colours will help you to do that. Your brand will be much more personal and authentic to you.
Red – bold, powerful, strong, determined. Use it sparingly to stand out.
Blue – trust, reliability, calmness, efficiency. But also cold and unfriendliness if used in large amounts.
Yellow – cheerfulness, happiness, positivity, joy.
Green – growth, balance, harmony, nature, restful.
Purple – luxury, loyalty, authenticity, creativity, courage, spiritual. It mixes the energy of red with the stability of blue.
Pink – compassion, nurturing, love, hope, empathy, understanding. Too much though can be too feminine, or show a lack of power.
Orange – motivation, comfort, fun, positivity, energetic.
Brown – safe, supportive, structure, reliable, practical. Don’t use too much, it can look boring!
Black – sophistication, independence, dramatic, safe. Beware of the sadness aspect if you use too much.
White – clean, pure, simplicity, efficiency. Too much though could be too clinical and give a feeling of loneliness.
Grey – security, reliability, intelligence, sophisticated, efficiency.
You need to consider how different colours go together too. Where you choose your colours from on the colour wheel, will determine how warm, cool, bright, calm, vibrant, subtle or jarring your website and other content looks.
Complementary colours are from opposite sides of the colour wheel – they are visually exciting but compete with each other, so use more of one and less of the other rather than in equal amounts. Use one to stand out against the other when you use less of it, such as for your website call to action buttons.
A split complementary colour scheme uses the two colours either side of one of those complementary colours, to give you three. This will add more variety, and won’t be quite so tense as just using two complementary colours.
Analogous colours are those that sit right next to each other on the colour wheel. Using these in your brand will be much calmer than complementary colours, but it will be harder to get something to stand out.
Monochromatic colour schemes use a range of the tones, shades and tints of a single colour. Tints of a colour have white added to them in varying amounts, making the colour less intense, and lighter or a pastel. Shades of a colour have black added to them in varying amounts, making the colour darker and not so bright. Tones of a colour have grey added, so both black and white, in varying amounts, reducing the intensity of the colour.
As with analogous colour schemes, it will be harder for something to stand out, so these and monochromatic schemes often have a single complementary colour too.
Colour Wheel Diagram
Don’t forget your season too
See my previous blog for an introduction to using seasonal colour theory for creating your brand visual identity. Your brand colours need to fit your season too, so that they all go together, and match the rest of your brand style.
So as a recap, see the chart just below – Spring colours are warm, light and bright. Summer colours are cool, delicate and muted (with a few deeper tones like classic dark blue and British racing green too). Autumn colours are warm, intense and darker. Winter colours are cool, bright and strong, dark and light, plus icy tints and pure black and white.
So when you’ve chosen the colours you want to represent your brand, adjust them to fit your season by using the right shade, tint, tone or pure colour hue.
If you don’t know your brand style and the right season to use for your brand, then take my quiz to find out – find the link after the next section below. And then your colours will definitely all go together.
Example Seasonal Colour Diagram
Finding the right colours for your brand
Think about your audience when choosing your colours. What colours and colour schemes will they be drawn to?
Research shows blue is our favourite colour overall, with men being more drawn to it. Women see more variety of colours, and prefer tints (paler colours with white in them) whilst men prefer pure colours or shades (darker colours with black in them).
People generally like simplicity though, so just use 2 or 3 main colours to keep your brand from being confusing.
Your colours need to fit the product or service you are selling. So if you’re selling a luxury product don’t use a colour that is seen as cheap.
Check what your competitors are doing, and don’t just pick the same colours as them, or colours just because they are trendy at that time – you want to be using your brand colours to help you stand out from the crowd.
Consider the practicalities of the colours you choose, and make sure you have a dark enough option to show up as text, as well as one to stand out for titles or calls to action. Pale yellow in particular just doesn’t show up against white.
Use the colour psychology words I’ve listed above to match to your brand values and the look and feel you want your brand to have.
How to choose your specific colours for your brand
– Have a look at colour schemes on Pinterest, just make sure they they are using the right colours for your season before you choose them.
– Collect paint colour charts from a DIY store to go through and see what goes together and what feels right for your values, personality and brand style – see below if you don’t know what that is yet.
– Make a long list selection of colours you love, that reflect your values and everything else I’ve mentioned here. Make sure they all belong to the same season. Then narrow it down to your short list. Continue checking they belong to the same season with the same attributes mentioned above, and that overall they give the right impression, mood, look and feel of your brand that you want them to.
It’s important to get this right. Colour helps people to recognise your brand – research shows colours help brand recognition by up to 80%. So then when you have them sorted, you need to make sure that you are using them consistently everywhere!
The brand style quiz
Remember you are what makes your business unique, so you need to use that in your brand too so that your business stands out from your competitors. You need to use your personality and values when it comes to deciding on which season to base your brand in, as well as what will appeal to your ideal clients/customers.
Start with brainstorming lots of words to describe the look, feel, mood and style that you want your brand to have. Then narrow this down to your top three words that sum it all up.
Finally, bearing these words in mind, along with your values and your ideal client/customer, take my quiz to see which season you fit into:
You’ll need to sign up to my list to take the quiz, so that I can email you with your results, more info about each of the seasons, and tips to put your new seasonal style into practice (but you can unsubscribe at any point).
When you’ve got your brand season, you can use its personality and colours to design your visual brand identity. Your brand season will help you choose your fonts, patterns and textures, and to design your graphics. It will help you with your brand tone of voice, and with your photography style.
It will help you style your brand with flair and create something that is distinctive and unique to you. It will look professional and stylish, but also have depth and meaning.
Use your brand style across everything you create for your business, so that every time your customer/client comes across your brand, it is all consistent and you become recognisable and memorable. You’re building your brand awareness and attracting more of those ideal clients and customers to you.
Hope that was interesting! So do your existing brand colours give the right impression of your brand, and reflect you and your brand values? Do they come from the same season too and all go together really well? Or do you need to adjust them a little, or even give your brand a whole new look?
Or if you’re starting your brand from scratch, I hope this really helped you to get your colours right 🙂
I can help some more with your brand and brand photography in the following ways:
If you’d like some more detailed help with creating your visual brand, then have a look at my Styling Your Brand workbook – Available soon!
If you need to get your brand foundations in place, and get to know your brand before you take photos or have some branding photos done, then check out my Create Your Brand workbook of my 20 essential steps to creating your brand, available with or without a two hour 1:1 Brand Brainstorm.
If you’d like to learn how to improve the photos you take yourself and how to get them on-brand, then join my next Basic to Brilliant online photography course.
And of course if you’d like some fabulous on-brand personal branding photos of you, then do let me know, or have a look at packages here: Capture Your Brand branding photos.
PS. Are you in my free Facebook group Your Brand Story yet? For tips, chat and trainings on growing your brand, visibility and business, and getting better brand images. Click the photo above to come over and join me.
Find out more about me over on the About page of course, and see how you can work with me via the Services page.
Using colour psychology to choose your brand colours