Have you ever heard of a brand book containing your brand message? You’re going to need one to ensure your brand is best represented to the public as professional and personal enough to draw in your ideal customers.
Your brand book, or brand style guide, is a rule book that spells out how your company presents itself to the public through color, font and logo selections, photography, and more. The brand book helps you communicate your brand’s message and share its personality, or rather, how it sounds, looks, and feels.
One often overlooked area is selecting brand colors without considering how consumers will perceive those colors, and thus, your brand message.
The Psychology of Color: Your Brand’s Message & Personality
As it turns out, there are messaging patterns that can be studied among colors and how color affects a viewer or buyer. In one study entitled “Impact of color on marketing,” researchers discovered that up to 90% of quick decisions made about products could be based on color alone, depending on the type of product.
But what about the role that color itself plays in branding? It’s all about the appropriateness of the color utilized for a brand. The color must “fit” what’s being sold.
In a recent study entitled “Exciting red and competent blue,” researchers found that colors strongly affect purchasing intent in buyers. Color influences how a brand’s “personality” is perceived. People prefer brands they can recognize immediately. That makes color an essential component to cultivating a brand identity.
How to Pick The Right Color for Your Brand Message
How do you pick the right color for your brand? Now, research has determined that a brand’s ability to predict consumer reactions to the color’s appropriateness is more significant than the specific color itself. If Harley Davidson owners purchase brand products to feel “rugged,” then colors chosen should evoke that emotion.
Stanford professor and psychologist, Jennifer Aaker has spearheaded studies on the psychology of branding and color as a topic. A recent paper of hers entitled “Dimensions of Brand Personality” reveals five core dimensions that contribute to forming a brand’s personality:
1. Sincerity: down-to-earth (small town and family-friendly), honest (sincere and real), wholesome (original), and cheerful (sentimental and friendly).
2. Excitement: daring (trendy and excited), spirited (cool and young), imaginative (unique), and up-to-date (independent and contemporary).
3. Competence: reliable (hardworking and secure), intelligent (technical and corporate), and successful (leader and confident).
4. Sophistication: upper-class (glamorous and good-looking) and charming (feminine and smooth)
5. Ruggedness: outdoorsy (masculine and western) and touch (rugged)
Aaker’s research shows that brands are usually dominated by one primary trait, but that brands can sometimes be a cross between two traits. Determine which traits best align with your brand message.
Some broad generalizations about the psychology of color can align with specific traits. Many associate the color brown with ruggedness or red with excitement. However, it’s more important that colors complement the personality that a brand wants to portray, not align with stereotypes.
Moving Beyond Color Stereotypes in Branding
Think about green. Many would associate the color with the nurturing and soothing powers of nature. However, you must consider context. For Seventh Generation, that means branding environmental issues. For Mint, that’s branding financial spaces.
What about brown? It’s rugged, and many leather-manufacturing brands use it to denote ruggedness. In another context, the feeling for the consumer to take away is one of warmth. Also, chocolate stirs the appetite. Color choice can prove difficult for brands seeking to evoke a retro look. Brands must consider the time period, but browns offer safe neutrals with a vintage feel.
What Brand Message and Color Come down To
How the mind reacts to each hue is as unique as the color itself. At first glance, two shades of green look the same, but they are vastly different. They evoke mixed emotions in your target audience. Message and color choice comes down to the image, mood, and feeling that your product and brand create.
Studies reveal that many think blue denotes trust, dependability, and security. However, consider the security and legal issues that have plagued Facebook in recent years. So, the temperature of customer opinion can affect the perception of your brand and its colors.
Once you share your brand message, keep it consistent and positive. McDonald’s uses yellow to share happiness and fun with its “I’m loving it” slogan. Over the years, McDonald’s started offering healthier food choices to keep up with positive brand perception.
Successful, booming brands stay above it all because they have great attention to detail from the beginning. Start with choosing the right color for your brand. Visual memory is one of the most powerful mysteries of human psychology, and you should use it to your brand’s advantage.