We hate to break it to you, but, when it comes to branding, true beauty isn’t on the inside. In fact, 94% of customers are likely to dismiss a brand due to poor design. That's a lot of potential business!
This week, we’re breaking down why looks matter when it comes to your brand’s value perception, and how the right colors can really make your brand stand out, sparkle, and POP! ✨
Let's leave your target audience saying:
🚨Value Perception Alert! 🚨
Last week, if you did your homework, you should have spent some time defining your Brand Voice, and thinking about the words you use to reach your target audiences. Your visual identity conveys those same elements through your brand colors, your logo, your photography choices, your graphics... anything that can't quite be conveyed through words. For some businesses, this even starts to come through in your interior design choices for your office, and your dress code for employees.
You may be thinking, "Well, I’m too busy with running my business to care about all that... right?" But visual identity is so much more than making your logo look nice. Your visual identity presents the perceived worth of your business and what you're offering. Investing in it can bring you big returns by helping the right customers find you and know, right away, that you're right for them -- if you're high-quality, if you're legitimate, if you're worth their investment.
A well thought out visual identity is how small brands can project huge value, and how big brands can be recognized worldwide. (Nike swoosh, anyone?)
All right, we're sure we don't have to convince you anymore, but one important note: We firmly believe that visual elements of your brand are worth investing in, so getting professional help from trained designers who really get you is major. (And next week, we'll suggest some ah-mazing designers who can take you to that next level.) In the meantime, we’re going to break down how you can start thinking about your brand colors, so you can be an active (and knowledgeable!) participant in finessing the perfect visual identity.
Set the mood
Time to get that brand inspo! Okay, so take a good long look at your brand’s core messaging that you hopefully have all gathered up in one place. Re-examine your brand voice (aren’t you glad you did that last week?), as well as your company mission, vision, notes on the brand's personality, etc. Basically, make sure you’re in the right headspace to look for visual inspiration that relates perfectly to your brand and isn’t just pretty (but ideally both).
Now, let's think about your competitors. If you don't know who your competitors are, start searching around and find businesses that are similar to yours in terms of their offerings, and who are trying to reach the same target customers. What colors do they use on their materials and website? What does their logo look like? Do you have a brand that you “want to be when you grow up?” It doesn’t even have to be a direct competitor if you just love their look and feel.
Whether you’re a Pinterest fiend or you like to cut out pictures and make collages, start saving the visual elements you find and put them in one place. It can also be helpful to look through magazines (or the online equivalent) and pull images, colors, and phrases you feel resonate with your brand. (Not just with you personally!) Find more mood board guidance here. As long as you are pulling visual elements together and you can look at them in one place, you’re heading in the right direction.
And, if you're a really hands-on thinker, don't be afraid to go outside and take photos of businesses or elements that inspire you too!
Pick your colors
Now look at your collection. What elements are repeated in multiple images? What commonalities are showing? What colors are popping out?
Tthere’s some amazing psychology behind colors and what they mean. Brands can grab your attention (red), seem powerful (black), and channel optimism (yellow) all within one logo. See a cheatsheet of colors and what they mean here.
If you've noticed one major color showing up in all the visual elements you've pulled, you can start with that. But if you're like us, you might have a collection of colors appearing, and it can be a bit overwhelming to narrow that down into what colors should define your business. So we recommend taking Brand Expert Fiona Humberstone’s approach. She breaks down color choices into personalities and seasons, with attributes and colors that make it easy to understand. We can’t get enough of her and you won’t be able to either after reading this piece on essentials of color psychology.
So, use her handy definitions to pick the season that resonates the most with your brand. Here are the essentials:
- Spring: warm, approachable, creative, fun, inspirational with light, bright, warm, and clear colors
- Summer: romantic, graceful, elegant, organized with delicate, cool, and muted colors
- Fall: earthy, organic, rusty, community with warm, intense, and muted colors
- Winter: dramatic, compelling, luxurious, focused with bright, intense, clear, and cool colors
As one of our clients recently said when she read her brand's season (fall), "OMG IT'S ME." Her brand colors were based around a rich teal, with pops of cranberry and a light peach for contrast.
If you're still not sure what choice is right for you, talk it out with some colleagues and trusted friends, and (we can't say this enough) stay focused on defining your business, not yourself. While you might be a warm, approachable person, your target audience might be looking for a company is cool and dramatic, or vice versa. The way to know this is to understand your audience and what they need, so if you don't know that yet, start here.