Color Psychology Defined: How to Pick the Best Color for Your Business in 3 Easy Steps

From flowers to fashion, color is all around us. And color plays a big role in business branding & identity, of course.

If you’re building a personal brand — or the brand of a business or organization — the colors in everything from your logo to the clothes you wear can impact the thoughts, decisions and opinions of clients or customers. A small tweak in color could alter the way a customer clicks on your “buy now” button (or misses it) or even picks up your product from the shelf, be it virtual or within the walls of your brick and mortar store. You can stand out with color.

In three easy steps we can determine the best color for your personal brand, business or organization. Whether you’re just getting started and have to pick brand colors for the first time, or you’re about to go through a brand refresh, it’s time to nail down the best color for you.

Here are three questions to consider:

  1. What’s My Favorite Color?
  2. What’s the Best Color for My Ideal Audience?
  3. What Does My Brand Color Mean? (We’re talking color psychology.)

Time to dive into the first question. (We’ll discuss the other questions — and share even more color tips and examples — in future posts in this blog series.)

What’s My Favorite Color?

Start asking yourself this question. Or, go straight in the opposite direction to ask: What colors do I hate?

Hate is a strong word but let’s face it. You might determine the best color for your brand is pink. You’re target audience loves pink, and pink works for your industry.

Love or Hate the Color Pink?

ALL the pink!

But you hate pink.

You don’t have to explain it. You just have a distaste for a certain color. Well, it might seem trivial, but whether you’re building your business every day and just working a side hustle, you will be thinking about your brand a lot. You will be looking at you website and creating visual content for social media often… And, of course you’ll be incorporating your brand color(s) a lot (if you’re smart).

This doesn’t mean you can never change or tweak your brand colors. Nor does it mean that everything rests on a color you may choose today. That’s a lot of pressure!

But you’ll be staring at your color a lot. You’ll be using this color. And if you wear your brand color (not uncommon), you will have a wardrobe of it!

Even if your brand color is your favorite color, you will get tired of it before your audience does. You will tell yourself it’s time for a brand refresh because your audience must be getting tired of it… But remember, they aren’t looking at it as much as you are.

You should keep your logo and brand colors for awhile — possibly forever — for brand consistency and recognition. Can you imagine if Target stores dropped the red?

Bottom line? You have to live with what you choose. You have to love and like — or at the very least tolerate — your brand colors.

So while you don’t have to pick your favorite color (please don’t if it doesn’t align with your customers and niche at all), you definitely should NOT pick a color you hate even if that color seems to be the perfect color for your brand.

Let me know what you think: Can any color work for any brand? Can you see working with a color that you despise while building a brand you love?

Kickstart Your Visual Content Marketing Without Delay

No designer on staff. No funds to contract one, not even for a single project. And you think you have zero creative bones in your body. It’s no problem.

I’m going to share the fastest way to kickstart your visual marketing in the new year or to launch a new brand at any time FAST — no design skills required.

Now if you have your social media marketing plan in place and are chugging along, creating great content and graphics, then you can skip this post.

But if you’re like me, you don’t have your whole act together. You’re ready for a fresh start with a simplified action plan. But all the new goals, resolutions, suggestions, and to-do lists quickly pile up once again. Overwhelm hits once again.

You know visual marketing is an important part of your business, but you’re back to square one. Where to begin?

Well, it’s time to move forward. No marketing plan to set up. No strategy session first. You don’t need a logo — or even a “complete” website — to start marketing your business.

In a perfect world with lots of time and money, I would tell you to hire a designer to set up a style guide. Create a logo if you don’t have one. But only after you’ve researched your target market to get a feel for their favorite movies and restaurants. And you are following your competitors and constantly on top of everything that’s happening in your industry, right?

The list of things you could do goes on. And you should do these things at some point. But for now, I quote my man, Mark Twain. He said “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.” (Hint: That’s the when. Just jump on in. NOW!)

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. —Mark TwainClick To Tweet

I heard 2014 was the year of video. 2015 the year of live streaming. And 2016 seems to be the year of membership communities. It doesn’t matter what’s next… Whatever you’re doing or selling, you need more eyeballs. Marketing is here to stay. And visual marketing will get you there faster.

Why visuals? Check out these 16 eye-popping visual content statistics by Larry Kim over at Inc. magazine. His bottom line? Visuals are effective because they help people process, understand, and retain more information more quickly.

Okay, so now you might be wondering how? How do I jump into any kind of visual marketing without design skills or a designer on staff?

I’m not suggesting you jump in completely blind with zero plan, of course. But a general idea is all you need. You don’t have to have everything lined out. Nothing will ever be 100% and you will never launch. It’s best to start, and then adjust along the way.

The easiest way to do this, is to pick one social media platform and one color to brand yourself.

I’ve mentioned both of these ideas before, suggesting Instagram is the first place to turn regarding social media. And I’ve outlined some thoughts on the best color for your business, too.

If you’re not a fan of Instagram — or know already that your target market is more prevalent elsewhere – then all means go with what works. The method is simply to simplify. Start small and focus on one.

And if you don’t believe in the power of color, just head over to your local Target store wearing a solid red shirt. Let me know how long it takes before you’re questioned by a customer. All the employees wear read so everyone around will think you work there, too.

Yes, typography and photography and layout and “feel” and so much more can contribute to solid visual content and make your graphics stand out. All of these elements come together and help shape a memorable brand, but nothing works as fast as color. I feel so strongly about this in branding/business, I’ve started to dive into the psychology of color.

And while a multi-color scheme can work, I suggest one color — once again as part of a quick and simple process. It’s easier and quicker to select one color and run with it. It’s also easier to add additional colors or pick a completely new color scheme in the future, should you find your initial choice isn’t working.

Practicing what I preach, I use orange in my own @boldbrandfast branding and green in my apparel startup, Avocado Shirt Co.

Have you chosen ONE social media network and ONE color to represent you, your brand or your business?

Orange Spine and Purple Cow: Stand Out with Color

My wife is writing her first book. But as she’s working toward that title of author, she’s filling the roles of teacher, maid, dishwasher, and chef (and every other job title that comes with being a stay-at-home mom of a homeschool family).

In addition, she loves science and everything about the outdoors. So much so that when she was working outside of our home, she preferred working, well, outside. She couldn’t sit still behind a desk all day.

Thankfully, she’s found a dream job or three working “in the field.” And while she was always aware and appreciative of her surroundings and the environment, it was while working at her first job in marine biology that the entire world seemed to “go green” and become eco-friendly. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Orange Spine, Purple Cow.But suddenly I noticed the orange spine.

See, while studying design and color theory, myself, I took an interest in my wife’s work and began brushing up on environmental matters, too. One day I was browsing the science section at our local bookstore and this one orange spine jumped out at me among all the green.

As you may know, the color green is often associated with nature, earth and the environment. So all the How To Be Eco-Friendly in 3 Recycled, Repurposed, Organic Steps books were green, of course. Except one.

In that row of green books, there was one with an orange spine that stood out. And I bought it. It stood out on the shelf — and in my mind all these years later — like the purple cow in Seth Godin’s popular book of the same name.

Standing Out as an Industry Expert

So as an industry expert you have two things to think about as you build your brand.

First, of course, you have to “fit in.” Maybe you are in the environmental space and you do, in fact, use a lot of green. And to fit in, you have to believe in what you teach. You’ll have to “go green,” recycle or eat foods with minimal packaging. You must choose to embrace it! Whatever your industry, your niche, you need to be one with your target market. Talk their language. Hang out on their favorite social channels… Whatever you need to do to fit in.

Just don’t blend in.

Fitting in doesn't mean blending in.Click To Tweet

Second, you have to stand out. Besides fitting in, you have to rise above the clutter and let it be known you’re the expert. Fit in among your peers but stand out as an industry leader.

Differentiate yourself to stand out. You could offer the premium course when everyone is discounting. Focus on one topic (and be the best at it) instead of trying to be a jack of all trades. Be the orange spine that rises above the competition; the purple cow that stands out from the masses.

Can you think of some place, like the bookshelf example above, where color can help you stand out? What else can you do to stand out while fitting in?

Blending in among your peers online? Grab a free download to start standing out on Instagram today: Stand Out on Instagram and Attract More Customers.

Stand Out With Stock Photos: How to Use the Same Free Photos Everyone Else Uses in Clever, Unique Ways

If you’ve seen one list of free stock photography sites shared by one blogger, then you’ve seen them all.

To top it off, I’ve read many designers and photographers insist you should never use stock photography. (Job security, maybe?)

It’s true, uploading stock photos on your business blog — as is — right after downloading them, is NOT the way to do it. You run the risk of cheapening your brand, or blending in at the very least. Especially when many bloggers are using the exact same photos.

Never fear! I’m here to help you stand out and shine online and ease any concerns of using the same old stock.

It’s as simple as tweaking the photos in some way — any way — to make them your own.

Here are 4 Ways You Can Stand Out While Using The Same Free Stock Photos as Everyone Else.

1. Rotate and/or Crop Photos

Flip or rotate photos so we see it in a different way. And cropping in is a great way to emphasize a specific point, or focus on the part of the photo that best applies to your message.

The original photo I used in this Instagram post wasn’t as tight. And I believe there were more colored pencils in various colors. I cropped in to focus attention right where I needed it — and left only an orange pencil to match my brand color.

2. Add Color

And of course I mean your brand color. (You have chosen 1 color to represent your brand, right?) This could mean an accent stripe of color, a color border or a complete color overlay.

I think Rebekah Radice loves orange as much as me. See how she uses an orange background to make her quote images stand out?

3. Add Text

Overlaying a text headline on a stock photo is one way to set yourself apart — and a great way to start your blog post, as I’ve done with each of my blog posts. That way, when someone shares your blog post using that image, it has your headline attached.

Michael Hyatt and team does a great job of adding encouraging text quotes on top of stock photos. Notice the addition of Hyatt’s URL, too.

A photo posted by Michael Hyatt (@michaelhyatt) on

4. Add Your Logo or Watermark

Adding your logo is a sure way to add brand recognition. But you could just add a URL or a specific hashtag… Whatever best suits your marketing message at the moment. Just remember the specifics and best practices of each social channel. (Pinterest doesn’t utilize hashtags, for example.)

Peg Fitzpatrick adds her iconic pink circle with her name to stock photos to set them apart. Bonus points when you’re stock photo uses your brand color(s), too!

5. Skip the Stock Photo!

This is a bonus tip, but doesn’t apply to stock photos at all… I’m suggesting to skip the photo! Try an illustration, an infographic or a text-only graphic that tells your story. Do this right and you’ll get higher engagement — no photo needed.

I love how Ben Requena adds his logo (and URL) in the upper left-hand corner of this graphic. He added a unique illustration for these “quick tips” he shares. placed some striking text — with all the above using his brand colors — and there’s no stock photo needed.

Any other tricks to make unique use of stock photos?

Share with me in the comments below. (I read every one.) Then, if you think others could benefit from this post, I encourage you to share it on your favorite social channel.

The 3 P’s of the Timely Instagram Image (And How to Create One on the Fly)

My boldbrandfast Instagram account continues to grow as I strive to create timely images and post consistently. I try and post engaging graphics with purpose about two times per day, every single day.

Now, most of us have a smartphone in hand 99% of the day. Of course it’s easy to snap a quick selfie or a behind-the-scenes shot and upload it fast. It’s one of the beautiful aspects about Instagram.

But today I’m going to show you the 3 P’s of timely Instagram images that look great — and are consistent with your brand, even on the fly.

1. Plan Out Your Instagram Content

Before you post another picture, plan  out your content. You need to have a big-picture idea of what your whole account looks like, who your target market is, and what valuable content you plan to share with them every day.

Sure, you want to be flexible to share the occasional selfie or pic of your lunch, but don’t be tempted to fill your stream with duck faces. It’s best to have a theme (read: strategy) and stay focused on what you post, as it relates to your brand. Instagram is great for sharing team activities, behind-the-scenes shots, and previews of upcoming products or coming-soon promotions.

Jeff Sieh, creator and host of The Manly Pinterest Tips podcast and show, wouldn’t use high-heel shoes to talk to his audience.

A photo posted by Jeff Sieh (@jeffsieh) on

  On the other hand, Jilleysue has targeted women, embraced pink and called herself the GIRLBOSS MOTIVATOR. High heels work for her brand!

In other words, the following steps (or anything else you post on Instagram) won’t matter if you don’t first plan and finalize your Instagram marketing goals.

 

3ps-instagram-graphics-bold-brand-fast-rob-russo2. Prepare Starter Graphics & Text

How do I have eight custom-designed, ready-to-go image templates saved on my iPhone, ready to be used at a moment’s noticed?

It’s easy when you prepare them ahead of time and (#ProTip) create them in batches.

Here’s an example of four images I’ve created and now keep on my phone to have at my fingertips. I like to call them backgrounds or Instagram image starters.

Three of these images, when posted in a certain order, tile together to create a bold orange stripe. The only extra effort required is to note the order of upload and plan out three posts that will fit together. (This is the little extra effort that really gets noticed.)

I have several others that are perfect stand-alone posts.

All use my brand color and logo. Sometimes I add a hashtag, such as #thinkvisualnow and/or my Instagram handle @boldbrandfast.

Besides these graphic templates, I have several notes saved on my phone (I use the Notes app on my iPhone) with saved hashtags and my choice of CTA (call-to-action) text. When writing the image description, I cut and paste as needed.

3. Pounce! Create Instagram Images with Ease

Now that you are armed with a plan and prepared with your custom-designed image templates and text, all accessible at your fingertips, you’re ready to pounce as soon as inspiration strikes.

I try to post organically at least once a day to my Instagram account. While I often plan out what am going to say with the image in mind, you never know when a timely update would be perfect for your brand.

Whenever I come across a quote that resonates or think of a tip I want to share, I can create it fast (usually in WordSwag or Typorama) by adding simple text over my pre-made backgrounds.

Here’s one example of a graphic I created:


So if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

And if you agree that Instagram is a must and have an account setup already, be sure to check out my profile and follow me for more visual content tips and secrets.

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