How did your website, business card or promotional products wind up the colors they are?

Big companies put a ton of time and money into selecting the colors to send the right signals. Experts on branding and color say they’re smart to make that investment; color has a huge impact on how people perceive you and your business.

And then some of us just choose colors we like for our marketing or for our “personal brand.”

The pros consider that a mistake. You really should research “the neuroscience of color,” understand the image you want to project, and figure out how blue or green or yellow or gray will get you there.

People make quick judgments about an environment or a product or a company. The research says color plays a big role in those decisions. Color evokes emotions, so it makes sense that smart marketers use color psychology to influence consumers.

I wasn’t so scientific about this color thing, but it looks like purple and red are pretty good picks for me, even if they were a seat-of-the-pants selection.

You can see why, in the graphic from the British communications agency We Are Boutique.

branding and color

Red is associated with Power, Confidence, and Leader – as a speaker, it’s important to exude those qualities. Bold, Active and Energy work well for me.

Purple’s connected to Creativity; it says Original, Individual, but also Distinguished.

Purple is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018. They say Ultra Violet “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking. It symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world.”

Who doesn’t want to make a unique mark on the world?

And, there’s a woo-woo factor here that I didn’t even know about when I said, “Hey, let’s make my website purple and red.”

Red is the color for the root chakra at the base of the spine. You’ve heard me talk about being grounded—it gives you more power as a speaker or leader.

Purple goes with the crown chakra at the top of the head. It’s the connection to the Universe, for consciousness, wisdom and Presence.

No, I don’t advocate choosing your brand colors based on esoteric Indian traditions. But like the notion that my own branding includes the colors connected to both ends of the energy spectrum.

If you aren’t already using consistent colors in your marketing materials, it’d be a good idea to settle on a palette that will attract your potential clients or customers. Colors that say something about who you are and what you stand for…and what they can expect from you.

You might choose blue as one of your colors—you’d have plenty of company among the Fortune 500. It’s the most common logo color by far for those bastions of American business. Probably because blue conveys trust, order, success. Think HP, AT&T, and American Express.

If you want to convey eco-consciousness or freshness you’d likely go with green. Of course green is also the color of money; it’s a good choice for, say, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. And maybe for you.

Yellow’s all about warmth and friendliness. It’s not surprising, is it, that those famous arches are golden. Yellow might create just the sunny, optimistic image for your brand too.

How many colors do you need? Two main ones, maybe an accent color. Probably no more than that or the impact is diluted.

You might find it useful to study your competition. What colors do others in your field use for their marketing materials and their website? Once you have a sense of what’s typical you can do something similar.

Or you can go in a completely different direction to set yourself apart. Your impulse to go with the standard—or not—is also part of your brand personality.

My big recommendation is this. Get some advice from a pro.

A guy wrote to me a while back, “I love your newsletter. What did you use to design it?”

My reply: “A designer.”

Colors, images, balance…these are not my areas of brilliance. I wanted a professional look. So I hired a professional. If you don’t know a good graphic designer, let me know and I can make an introduction.

You likely have some thoughts about this color thing. Tell us about your brand colors in the comments below. The ones you use…or the ones you got rid of because it turned out they weren’t really “you.”