Recently at Women Unlimited we have had a lot of questions from our community, around colour for personal branding, colour for business branding and just all round confusion on the lens we should apply to ‘colour’. So we thought who better to ask than our resident colour expert Karen Haller. Here we’ve put a number of questions to Karen to get the inside scoop on colour.
1. Can you tell me what drew you in to the world of business colour?
I’ve loved colour since childhood. After I left school I studied fashion design and millinery, and it was then I realised I really wanted to learn more about colour. I enrolled in every colour course I could find, yet it was the field of colour psychology (how colour can affect how we feel and behave) that really fascinated me, so I embarked on years of extensive study which not only included colour psychology but also child psychology and holistic interior design.
During this time I led what I call a bit of a double life, studying at night and working as an IT Web project manager and analyst for major corporations and start-ups by day.
Starting my own Colour & Design business over five years ago I’ve been able to successfully blend my sound business experience and acumen along with colour science and my creative skills. My clients also benefit from my global business expertise and cultural experiences having worked in Australia, France, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK; and I’ve travelled to almost 70 countries – I love soaking up nature, architecture and cultural experiences and especially how they apply to the use of colour.
2. Can you explain the difference to our audience between analysing colour for business branding and colour for personal branding?
There is a lot of confusion around business owners thinking their personal brand is the same as their business brand.
Each and every one of us has a personal brand. You could say we have a personal brand from the day we were born. It’s how we show up every day. It’s our personality, our morals, ethics and values. It is personal to us and what makes us individual and unique.
We all know a business brand is not a logo, and nor it is a person. A business is bigger than any individual. The danger of making your brand just about you?… it will possibly affect just how big your brand will grow.
Are you really creating a business or just a job? This is not to in any way invalidate the personal brand. To identify your business brand personality you need to be able to put your own personal brand to one side. Think of your business brand as a standalone entity from you with its own personality and set of values. This is what every member of staff needs to embody and reflect through everything they do.
3. What do you see as the foremost mistakes people when thinking about colour and their business needs?
Here are just a few of the most common mistakes business owners make:
- They pick their own personal favourite colour without considering what that colour is actually saying.
- They pick colours individually but don’t realise the meaning can change when colours are put together.
- Tones of the same colour have different meanings. For example a green that has more blue in it will have a different meaning to a green that has more yellow in it.
- Letting someone else choose their business brand colours arbitrarily for them (they will likely be picking their own favourite colours).
- Going with a colour or colour combination because it is fashionable or trendy without fully understanding their relevance to their brand. How many female businesses do you see that use the intense pink with black. Do they really know what message they are communicating?
- Asking friends, family what colours they like, as once again they will be giving their own personal colour bias.
- Using really bright colours to stand out in the crowd is the equivalent of SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY! Not good for business if the message the colours are shouting is actually repelling your ideal clients.
- Using colours from different tonal colour groups creates a harsh, jarring effect and actually projects the colours negative qualities and will be sending out the wrong brand message.
Do you know the reasons you chose your business brand colours and what they really mean? Are you attracting or repelling your ideal clients?
4. What constitutes success in your mind in terms of colour and business? What does getting it right look like?
Colour is a language, another way to communicate your business brand message. As it is a subconscious message, it is often forgotten or misunderstood.
If you are able to communicate your brand’s authentic personality and values through not only the logo, font, words and imagery, but also through the all-important subconscious colour messages, then you have an authentic, successful brand.
Up to 85% of a first impression – the initial perception of your business that your customer has – is based on colour alone. Source: CCICOLOR- Institute for Color Research.
5. What are your top 3 tips for a woman in business who has already decided on business and personal colours and is only just ‘now’ wanting a colour re-make? Or is about to update her business collateral.
Three important points to remember when choosing your brand colours:
- Base your branding colours on your company’s values, aims, mission statement. People will know what your brand stands for through the use of colour (not on trends or fashion fads).
- Use a colour or combination of colours that represent your company’s values in the right proportion and intensity (otherwise you could risk changing the entire meaning of your brand).
- Use colours from the same harmonious tonal colour group. Using colours from different colour families will create a harsh, jarring effect and actually project the colours negative qualities.
6. What suggestions would you have for women who need to explain their colour needs to various suppliers and contractors in their business chain?
This is really important and something every business in every industry needs to communicate when specifying colour. The way to communicate your colours is by using a colour notation system to ensure consistency.
For my business branding clients I start with a Pantone reference (or if the exact colour doesn’t exist I make it using CMYK). The Pantone code is then converted into a CMYK code that is then referenced for all print work. Off this code the other codes needed e.g. HEX, RGB etc can be taken to maintain colour consistency from an original source.
Now, what is important is this final step. The final colour check will still need to be done by the human eye because with all colour application there are varying tolerances and they can throw the colour out.
7. Why did you choose the particular colours you use for your own consultancy?
My business brand uses three blues all within the same harmonious tonal colour family. My business brand is all about trust, integrity, communication, logic, analysis and creativity. When I am representing my business brand I uphold those values.
8. What should global brands and suppliers look out for when choosing their business colours?
Whether you are thinking of going global or selling to specific cultural markets it is important to research their cultural colour symbolism. You could be inadvertently offending your target market. You want to create a positive impression and tap into a colour’s positive cultural association.
Three Things to consider when going Global:
1. Identify the countries you are looking to do business in and do some research about those countries
2. Research the meaning and the cultural significance of your brand colours in the context of these societies
3. Work out the potential impact of your colours on your brand and therefore potential sales in those markets.
Don’t under estimate the importance we all put on the significance that colours have in our cultures. The colours you use can make or break a product or an entire brand.
9. How do women successfully choose/blend their colour for their business with their personal colour choices?
In my professional opinion these are two separate functions. One is what the business brand stands for and the other is about who you are personally. Who you show up as in your business is as a representative of your business brand. Your own personality may not fit your business brand. For example if your business brand is serious and your own personality is playful and fun, you will know to put the fun, playful side away at the appropriate (work) time.
10. If you weren’t doing this what would you do in business?
I would definitely still be working in the colour science field. I love researching and travelling the world to discover how different cultures apply and use colour. I’m really passionate about working with business owners to uncover their business brand’s authentic personality through applied colour psychology and seeing their brand come to life and blossom. I love sharing my knowledge through writing, teaching and educating. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be spending every day doing what I love.
If you would like to share your experience of ‘colour’ in your business with Karen and our community, please comment below!