DIY Brand School: Using Colours

If you’re putting your own visual brand identity together, colour is one of the best ways you can make a real impact. Colour changes the way people feel, and think. That's a big impact to make, to change how people feel. But with so many colours out there, I know it can feel like a monumental task to pick just a few, and stick to them. Trust me, I love colour and I feel like changing the colours on my website on a weekly basis. But there’s a reason you should go for certain colours and stick with them, so let’s dive in!

1. How do you want your audience to feel? ie. cosy, comfortable, joyful, magical, chic

Write down two-three words that describe how you want people to feel, when they meet your brand. Why will they keep coming back to you, what feeling and mood do you give them? Are you serving them a deep, slow and cosy moment? Are you bringing them a bursting and joyful moment? Should they feel chic? Or maybe magical? These are all very different feelings. 

It’s important to remember here, that it’s not about how you want to feel, but about how you want your customer to feel. A lot of time that overlaps naturally, but it’s important that your branding is about them, and not you. You’re in it, but the people you serve are the most important component. 

Write for your 2-3 feeling words.

2. Finding the right colours, for the right feelings.

Now that you have a list of feelings, it’s time to find which colours best represent those feelings. What colours are giving you the right feels.

The easiest way to do this is to start paying attention to the images that make you feel these things. Look at the colours, are there certain colours that keep cropping up? Keep your eyes open, save Instagram posts, takes pictures when you’re out and gather inspiration on Pinterest. 

Really think about the colours around you in life that make you feel certain ways.  How about the pub you go to with your family in winter, there’s inspiration to be found there! If you want people to feel cosy, comfortable and welcome, you may be looking at deeper, more saturated hues, just like in that pub. If you want to create joy and excitement, you’ll probably be after bright and uplifting colours. What colours bring joy to you during the day, the pop of a pink shoe? The yellow of a smiley face?

Gather an assortment of colours  that make you feel the way you want to feel. Create a system to keep track of them, make a Pinterest board or a real life board.

3. Putting together a palette, and staying consistent.

You’ve got all these colours, great! But now it's time to figure out what works well together.

Firstly, the logistics. Have you ever picked up a flyer or card, and there is white writing on yellow and you can’t read it? Yeah, two lights do not make a right. You need a variety of colours that layer onto of each other well. You’ll most likely want to pick a couple of darker colours and a couple of lighter colours so that you can do just that.

Now for the impact, start putting the colours you're most drawn to next to each other. Using a colour grabber tool either in Photoshop (which you can get a free trial of!) or in Canva which is free, start making blobs of colours and seeing how they interact with each other. It’s so important that you let loose and play here! There is no right or wrong answer, it’s not a pop quiz, try lots of combinations. Let me take away your fear now, you will create some colour combinations that look awful, and that’s great! You can rule that colour combo out now! Just keep going until you have a few different colour combinations. A dark plum may go well with a dark green, but if you want cosy and uplifting, maybe that dark plum would pair nicely with a hot fuscia. Get creative, just play! 

Now using a colour grabber tool, grab the hex code ( the letters and numbers behin the #) of the colours and write them down. Start playing with some of these colour palettes in the ways you intend to use them. Trying making some Pinterest pins, some Instagram posts, anything you’re likely to make. If you’re not sure where to do this, check out the post on free design tools.

Now, walk away for a few days. I mean it, walk….away…. You need to give your mind some space to breath. You’ve been doing a lot of feeling with all of those colours and you need to step back. As the most impatient person on the planet I understand how much it hurts that I’m saying to walk away, but you’ll thank me for it later. 

Once you’ve come back after a few days, ask yourself again with each of your colour palettes, how does this make me feel. Narrow it down to the palette that creates the best version of the feeling. If you’re being pulled between two, try mixing some of the colours around from each to see if there is a better version in there, again, this isn’t a test, play a bit more if you need to! 

After all that work, you now have a hard working colour palette that’s ready to go out there and make some feelings. It's important that people feel the right way about you at every touch point they have with you. So stay consistent. You've got a palette at your finger tips, so make sure you use it. Go forth and colour our world!

Schools out, let's play.


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