What do you think about when I mention pastel pink? Parents welcoming a new baby girl, little dancers lacing up their ballet shoes, and enjoying a strawberry ice cream cone on a hot summer day might come to mind.
Color is one of the most powerful tools you can use to build your brand and attract your ideal client. It has the ability to affect our thoughts and emotions on a subconscious level. It can bring up old memories, help us group related ideas together, and build new associations.
If you learn to use color well, it can help you create a memorable impression that brings your ideal client in and keeps her coming back. Use this as a guide to help you evaluate your current color scheme or build a new one from scratch.
First, a little color theory
Let’s make sure we’re on the same page and start with the basics. There are 16 base colors that make up the color wheel. Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors we’re all familiar with. They are the building blocks for every other color.
Orange, green, and violet are the secondary colors you get when you combine two primary colors.
Red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet are tertiary colors. They’re made from combining a primary with a secondary and complete the color wheel.
These colors can be grouped into two categories: warm and cool. Warm colors are red, yellow, and orange. Cool colors are blue, green, and violet.
You can add black, white, or gray to change a color’s properties. You can make a shade of any color by adding black and a tint by adding white.
Saturation describes the purity or brightness of a color. A saturated color is in it’s pure bright state. You can desaturate it by adding grey.
Now that we have the basics of color theory down, we can talk about how color affects us.
Things always get kind of relative when we talk about color. We all experience it a little differently and so we can end up with different associations for the same color. There’s always a little guesswork and leeway in color psychology, but our shared cultural experiences give us plenty of common ground to work with.
For the most part, warm colors are perceived as optimistic and energetic. They remind us of sunshine and have a way of getting our attention. Cool colors are more serene and relaxing. They can create a peaceful and calm feeling.
Saturated colors convey energy and childlike qualities. They’re bright and bold, which are qualities we associate with youth and excitement. Desaturated colors are more somber and grown up. They’re muted and calm, which we associate with maturity and seriousness.
Each color has it’s own set of connotations and can bring up different emotions. Green is associated with nature and eco-friendliness, but also with money and even greed. Red can remind us of love and happiness, but also of danger and anger. Keep these connotations in mind when you’re building your color scheme.
Figuring out which colors look good together can be tricky. Thankfully, there are actually pre-built guidelines some really smart people came up with long ago! There are several different types of color schemes you can choose from to take some of the guesswork out mixing and matching colors.
Monochromatic color schemes are made of tints and shades of a single color. They’re really good if you’re trying to create a peaceful, mature, or serious tone.
An analogous color scheme uses two or more colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Like monochromatic color schemes, they can create a peaceful and serene feel, but with a bit more energy and playfulness.
Complimentary color schemes bring two colors from opposite ends of the color wheel together. Using opposite colors together creates a ton of contrast, which can feel exciting, fun, and full of energy.
Split-complementary color schemes use a base color and the two adjacent to its complement. Triadic color schemes use three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. Tetradic color schemes use four colors, either spaced equally on the color wheel or on the points of a rectangle.
Because these options make use of 3 or 4 colors, they communicate more playfulness and childlikeness. Even if you go with desaturated colors or shades, you end up with a whimsical feel.
Your brand and your ideal client
Knowing your brand is the first key to choosing colors that will help move you toward your goals. When you know what you’re about, what values you stand for, and how you fit into the market, making choices about color become easier.
Combine that self-awareness with a good understanding of your ideal client and you have everything you need to choose a color scheme that goes beyond looking pretty and actually works to attract the right people.
Your ideal client is coming to you for something specifically. She chooses you over all the other options she has for a reason. Knowing that reason will help you figure out what types of colors will get her attention.
Wild Olive Branding, for example, is all about bringing clarity and peace of mind to the branding process. My ideal client is a natural-minded entrepreneurial hard-working lady who values nature, wants to change the world, and values peace in her life and business.
I knew I would be using lots of colorful scenic landscape and nature photos in my marketing, so I chose to balance that with a simple monochromatic color scheme. Aside from some basic neutrals, green is really my only color and that helps create a feeling of calm and clarity for my ideal client.
What colors are going to help you communicate your brand in a way that resonates with the people you want to reach?