How to Build Your Brand | Using Color to Evoke Feelings
When you think of going to your favorite restaurant, what makes you want to head out the door? Is it the food and how happy your tummy is going to be? Is it the atmosphere? Maybe the people you will see, or your favorite server? Maybe you go there because they have absolutely epic drink specials, and you just LOVE your appletini’s (That’s not me, I swear! I’m a whiskey guy). Regardless of what it is that makes you want to go there, these components are all part of that restaurant’s brand. And, if it’s a well-managed brand, those pieces are very intentionally designed – from the music you hear and lighting choices you see, to the flooring and paint colors. Would you believe that with some products, around 90 PERCENT of snap judgments made about that product are based SOLELY on color?
In the first article of this series, we went over some of the basics of building your brand and gave you several points on how to clear up the message you were sending through being more consistent in a few areas. It’s one of those building blocks that has to be at the beginning – you have to know WHAT you are trying to “say” to your clients before you decide anything else. It’s the engine that drives design choices, packaging styles, message content and everything to do with how you interact with your client.
In the next few articles, we are going to focus in on the “feel” of your brand by talking about three key elements: Your color palette, your interaction/message style, and your packaging/website. We will briefly touch on each section, but know there are countless libraries of info on each of these three topics available out there.
Building Your Brand | All the “Feels”
How does it feel (if the song lyrics, “How do you want it? How does it feel?” came into your head right now, we are Tupac-loving soul-mates!) when you see the colors you use with your brand? Colors can evoke memories, bring up favorite foods we associate them with, take us to a place we felt at peace or even cause us to feel anger or angst. Color theory talks about the different ways colors and combinations of colors interact, produce harmony or discord, and also the various families of colors that go together based on the color wheel. But colors tie very deeply into the way we “see” the world and pull from the other four senses to evoke an overall “feeling,” whether we want them to or not.
Now, without getting too deep into science or religion, there are beliefs centered around the different “chakra” or energy sources in the body that also relate to these colors as shown in this chart from prweb.com, and have been discussed and written about since as early as 200 B.C!
Colors are tied into foods that exist in nature, and according to the Chakra explanation, the foods of those colors reside in the same energy area, as well as some of the emotions we feel when eating them. So, if colors and foods of that color can make us FEEL certain emotions like calm, courageous, peaceful, energized, sleepy, sexy or empowered, it only makes sense that we would want to consider some of these basics when we are deciding on what colors to use in our brand, right?
Building Your Brand | Keep it simple
Most of us have a decent amount of intuitive ability to “know” what looks right together, but a simple way to see if the colors you have picked go well together is to see if you find them together in nature. I love going to a greenhouse or looking at photos from a century-old vineyard in Italy for inspiration because part of my brand message is hand-crafted and optimistic (we label it “hopeful” in our branding message). Not “vintage” necessarily, but that old-world kind of charm and class for sure. A more worn-in and well-loved character that has added value and rarity over new and shiny is the feeling we want to evoke with our imagery as well as our branding. Earth tones and colors with a slightly faded look are perfect for the message I try to communicate.
The fact that I love these colors personally is where I started when picking things out for my branding. In fact, the simplicity is this – if you LOVE it, if it’s a color you find yourself drawn to, buying clothes in, looking for in magazines, etc., it’s probably going to be an easy color for you to use in your branding especially if your branding is an extension of you and your passion.
As creatives, we definitely have a tendency to be drawn to “new” ideas and what the most recent “thing” is when it comes to wanting to change everything we do. My suggestion here would be the same as with your logo from my last article on branding; small variations of change are perfectly fine and even expected as we grow. If you use blue, changing to a slightly “grayer” shade of blue isn’t going to rock the boat and can even become a small “spark” of new to clients and potential clients. People love micro-changes. They generally HATE large changes. You go from having everything in orange and gray to now using blue and green, and you will disassociate your clients from your brand. If Amazon all of the sudden started using bright blue and gray for their brand, it would be a change that made everything you knew as comfortable and reliable feel suddenly alien. It’s similar to making a drastic relocation move. Familiarity is part of what makes a good brand work, so keeping with the lane you’re currently working in and making small changes over time will make it easier for your “tribe” to change with you!
Check out this group of colors and the brands that fall under them. They have also associated those colors with their corresponding emotions. See if you agree with the way you “feel” about certain brands based on the color they fall under.
BUILDING YOUR BRAND | Work it out
Color is kind of a big deal (or, at least, it can be). Have you taken a serious look at your brand and colors? Ever wondered why some people just don’t seem to engage like you want them to or why clients seem irresistibly drawn to the things you put out there? Chances are, color is playing a strong role in both of those choices your clients/potential clients are making!
Here’s your homework: look through your website, your editing, and your packaging and take note of how your colors make you “feel.” Does your brand speak to a masculine and refined perspective? Are you aiming to reach a softer and traditionally feminine demographic? Do your colors line up with that? Aiming to reach brides who love DIY shows and antiques, but showing bright and bold colors with hard/contrasty design?
Even without knowing design and branding basics, your clients can be easily turned off by something as simple as the colors you choose. McDonalds knows that yellow and red have been associated with feelings of hunger, and for the majority of their branding, they use those two colors. Ever wondered why you feel hungry when you see that color combo? Look around at the next few restaurants you visit and see if you don’t see those two colors in various forms all over the food world.
Look through your brand and consider how you can make small changes to colors/tints to tie into the feeling you want your clients to associate with your brand and their experiences with you.