The Psychology of Color: Choosing Your Color Personality (Part Two)
Last week I shared a blog post all about five color personalities and some introduction into basic color science.
This week I'm sharing five more color personalities and some strategies to begin visualizing your personality through, dun, dun, dun, moodboards! The strategy at the end of this blog post is very close to the process I go through with my brand design clients.
Without further adieu . . .
What kind of person do you perceive to be trustworthy? Likely someone who is level-headed, calm, and steady.
Blue is the most common favorite color and, as it is the color of the sky and the sea, it’s a constant in our lives.
Blue is also one of the most versatile colors. An electric blue can be feminine (like Tiffany’s) or dramatic. A deep blue is usually associated with wisdom and spirituality.
It’s also been shown that people are more productive in blue rooms, and, if you are wearing blue, others may perceive you to be more reliable. Familiar blue brands are GE, Intel, HP, Ford, and Samsung. Most blue brands, in fact, are either technology or car companies (typically the non-luxury brands). Why? Well, what is the most important quality you look for in a computer or an everyday car? Reliability.
There are many, many ways to express formality with color. White and black are typically formal colors; however, darker colors, like navy or deep crimson, can be paired with these contrasting neutrals to create an elegant, formal feel.
If you’re not into red or blue, try combining them to make a deep purple. Purple has long been the color of royalty.
Purple dye used to be so rare that any purple fabric was far too expensive for the average person. This dates back all the way to ancient Rome, Persia, and Egypt. It was also associated with the gods, who, I imagine, would be very formal. Even in the late fifteen hundreds, Elizabeth I forbade anyone other than royalty to wear the color purple.
Luckily, purple isn’t so hard to come by anymore, and using a hex code costs nothing. So if you’re going for formal, throw some purple into your brand.
An airy color palette could easily be mistaken for a feminine one. Light colors are a staple of the airy color palettes. However, while feminine palettes would lean toward the warm side of the color scale, airy palettes will lean toward the cool side.
We didn’t mention light blue in the trustworthy color personality, because, though it still gives off that dependable feel, it’s more commonly associated with “calm.” Think of nurseries–what are the most common colors used? Light blues. Despite the color being traditionally associated with baby boys, it is, in fact, considered one of the most gender-neutral colors.
Think of the sky, too. The sky is often associated with the breeze, which is cooling. Therefore, it is fitting that an airy color palette would be made up of cooler colors. Blue works because green is more associated with earth (the opposite of air), and purple is a little too warm to be airy unless you go for a very light lavender or periwinkle.
A relaxed color palette can go one of two ways: it can be largely made up of neutrals, as neutrals are less taxing on the eyes, or it can be made up of calming colors like blues and greens.
Greens, like blues, can be calming and grounding, as they are associated with the earth. Light browns and beiges can have the same effect. For a relaxed color palette, it’s a good idea to limit your palette to one or two colors. The other three should be neutral.
Muted colors are a good idea, too. It’s easy to make almost any color relaxing if it’s muted enough. If you’re playing around with Adobe Color, pick a color you like and slide the bar on over to the greyer side of the scale. Then, surround that color with some neutrals, and you’ll have a color palette that is both pleasing and relaxing to the eye.
When you look down a city street, what do you see? You see grey sidewalks, black asphalt, and brick buildings.
If you’re going for an urban feel, there’s a couple of different ways to go. If you’re going for a city street feel, brick reds and browns and concrete and charcoal grays are fantastic colors.
If you’re going for more of an urban loft feel, the same brick reds, muted navys, and perhaps mustardy yellows are good options and look great together. Blue, yellow, and red are primary colors.
This means that you can’t make these colors using any other color. (Purple, green, and orange are made up of two primary colors combined, e.g., yellow and red make orange.) It also means that almost any variation of these three colors looks good together.
Now that you've read up on the color personalities, how do you pick? It’s a good idea to play around with words, first. Write out a list of words you think describe your brand. Once you’ve done this, narrow it down, and narrow it down again. Narrow it down until you have one primary word to describe your brand and one secondary word.
For example, your brand might be feminine but also formal. When you choose your colors, you’ll have a primary color that signifies femininity and a primary color that signifies formality.
Once you’ve picked your words, go to Pinterest or Google and type in the words you’ve chosen (or related phrases). Start collecting images that you feel represent your brand. They don’t have to be specifically related to what you’re selling or writing about. They can be pictures of architecture, fashion, nature … anything. This is your mood board.
Once you’ve collected twenty or so, choose your nine favorites. Open up an Adobe Illustrator document or hop onto Canva.com and put your pictures in one document. (Even if you’re using Canva, you can upload your photos to Adobe Color and get specific hex codes, since you can’t select colors from your images on Canva. The only pain is that you have to upload each image separately. Then, you can copy and paste the hex codes into Canva.) Now, make five squares off to the side of your document.
Find Your 5 Colors
Have you ever gone to a website and been so overwhelmed by the number of colors that you immediately clicked the back button? Too many colors can really overwhelm a viewer, and if you’re looking to gain clients, overwhelming your readers is the last thing you want to do. So, here’s the best way to avoid it: limit your color palette to five colors.
You’ll want two primary colors. These colors will be the ones that best represent the two words you’ve chosen to describe your brand. Then, you’ll want two accent colors that compliment your primary colors. They can be complementary (like orange and blue), or they can be different hues of the same color (light blue and dark blue), or they can be a unique combination (blue and red or blue and purple). If you couldn’t quite narrow down to just two words, you can use your third word to help you choose your accent colors.
Lastly, you’ll need a neutral. This will be used mainly for backgrounds on your website or graphics.
Play with Adobe Color if you need to! Just make sure you don’t rely too heavily on it. It can help you decide what color families look good together (e.g., colors on opposite sides of the color wheel go well together; they are called complementary colors) but it can feel limiting if you don’t feel comfortable bending the color rules a little bit.
Once you’ve settled on a color palette that represents both your color personality and reflects your mood board, you’re done! On your document, change the boxes to match your colors.
Now all you need to do is apply your colors to your website, graphics, etc.
Remember, white space is okay. In fact, some white space is encouraged. You want to make sure all your text is readable and that your main content, be it blog posts or photography, is the focus. Make sure any copy you have is black or very dark grey on a light background.
If you have a headline or a button on top of a dark picture, you can make that text white, so it stands out better. You don’t want any of your beautiful colors to distract readers or potential clients from the purpose of your website.