Every business needs a brand persona. Doing any work be it sales, marketing, PR, business development or refining and defining your products and services you need to know who you are as a brand so that your audience can connect to you. Today’s consumers, more than ever, desire authentic connection, so you want to have deep roots and always show them who you are. After that everything else must be just as curated and calculated, from who exactly your audience is, to your logo, brand identity, and communication strategy – it all stems from your Brand Persona.
What colour is best to compliment your persona? Let’s first consider the basic colour wheel. It consists of the primary colours – red, yellow and blue; the results of combining the primary colours (two at a time) with each other, called secondary colours; and the results of combining each primary colour with its secondary colour, called tertiary colours.
This gives 12 colours total, and coincidentally there are also 12 Brand Personas. Based on the Jungian Archetypes, each brand persona has an individual voice and personality. Of course, in real life execution brands that match the same archetype doesn’t always incorporate the same colours in their brand identity, and brands of a certain archetype might even incorporate seemingly counter-intuitive colours into their branding and logo design. Decisions such as these are quite complex and take into consideration many other factors.
So, if you are struggling to break through the noise, if nailing down a persona is challenging, or if you are looking for a visual identity that truly compliments your chosen persona, here is a starter guide. A simple outline of which persona each colour on the colour wheel will evoke.
(*Note, technically there are two types of green on the colour wheel, for simplicity one of those have been removed and replaced with a common choice for logos: “Greyscale”, which includes, black, white and grey).
Different colours mean different things to different people in different contexts. Orange might make some think of foods of that colour, others think of the seasons or a temperature. Generally, however, we associate a colour with the initial jolt it gives our system. Orange is a bold colour. It immediately stands out in a crowd. So, if your brand is disruptive, rebellious and craves revolution you are an OUTLAW persona, and we encourage you to incorporate some ORANGE into your branding to let people know that you are here to denounce the status quo.
Example: Harley Davidson
We’re here to explore what the colour and the persona each mean, and the word magician has various connotations. In the context of Brand Personas, we want to forget about trickery and focus on wonder. The MAGICIAN is mystical but not mysterious. They want to make dreams come true. Because the colour BLUE evokes trust, quality and integrity this colour is a great way to let people know your brand wants to take them on a journey of transformation.
Research has shown that in retail or purchasing situations RED is associated with immediate action. That’s why SALE signs are usually read. It prompts people do something, now! Which is perfect for HERO brand personas who embody courage and adventure. If your brand is bold and want to communicate to your audience that you here to save them and you are quick and capable at doing it use more red.
Sometimes colours can mean contrasting things. Red can mean anger AND passion, but PINK is surely one of the most transparent colours. The feeling you get when you are pink is likely to be the same as most other people. It’s soft and calm and clear. Research has found that it also evokes feelings of relaxation, perfect for the LOVER brand persona. This archetype is soothing and affectionate. If you want people to titillate the senses and make people feel beautiful, your brand is the Lover persona and pink is your colour.
Example: Victoria’s Secret
If your brand persona is optimistic, fun loving and playful, choosing YELLOW as one of your core colours is a great choice. This colour is uplifting. It puts a smile on everyone’s face and even thinking about it makes you feel warm and joyful. If you need a mental ray of sunshine or a just-because pick-me-up, simply think of the colour yellow and your shoulders will feel a bit lighter. With the mission of living life to the fullest and promoting good times the JESTER is the perfect persona for this colour.
So many brand personas take up space and seem larger than life, but of course, not every potential customer will relate to that. In a world of bright colours some people honestly prefer the comfort of GREY, black or white. These types of people relate to brands who are humble and inclusive. This is the EVERYMAN archetype. This brand persona just wants to belong, they don’t want to stand out, they want to create a community build on contributions from everyone.
Just like this persona this colour is often overlooked. TURQUOISE is a tertiary colour, a primary and a secondary colour have to exist first for Turquoise to be included in the colour wheel. Just like it’s complimentary archetype CAREGIVER, its role is support and service – never in the spotlight, but always nearby to protect any and all who may fall in harm’s way. Many brands shy away from the greater good as their mission, as it’s a might undertaking, but if your brand message is one of gratitude and care, take the road less travelled.
This is not the technical name of this colour on the colour wheel but, again, it’s sometimes about your get reaction to a colour, and if the combination of yellow and orange is rich enough it can look like GOLD which is a fascinating colour for a brand to adopt as its own. Gold means refined luxury so it can only belong to the RULER. A brand persona who wants to communicate to their audience that they are elite, wealthy and successful.
One can almost feel innovation, imagination and originality when you look at the colour PURPLE. It’s a colour that’s full of potential – complex and rich, yet at the same time encourages a starting with a blank slate to build something exceptional from the ground up. The CREATOR archetype embodies these traits perfectly. This Brand Persona has a vision and aspires to unlock imagination to create that vision. Brands that encourage self-expression and forging the future will find success if they embrace this combination.
Diving deeper into the psychology of colour will probably reveal why two such similar colours evoke such different feelings. Where purple is a strong colour, VIOLET is quite passive. Silent and sweet.
The brand persona that might benefit from using this colour is the INNOCENT, a wholesome and humble archetype striving for happiness. Always being honest, fostering a feel-good spirit and keeping it simple is who these brands are.
Another colour that can have a range of connotations from health and nature to purity and peace is GREEN. In the context of the audience as a customer it can evoke understanding and education, traits aligned with the SAGE archetype. This brand persona is an intelligent expert who guides others on the path to wisdom. Celebrate life-long learning and influence others to find the answers they need by incorporating more green if you’re a Sage or adopting Sage tactics if the colour green is a core component of your brand identity.
When you think of the saying “Make It Count” – bolder colours like red or orange might come to mind. But practically a person who embraces freedom would be more earthy, natural, and organic. Living life to the fullest means you get your hands dirty, so BROWN is your colour. Constantly improving on your own limits and exploring the unknown is what the EXPLORER is known for. Brands who adopt this persona are rugged and daring and they relish every adventure.
That’s it. 12 for 12!
So, even if you are a marketer, brand manager or SME owner for a company that’s been around for a while, it’s still valuable to take a look at your Brand Core and see if you’re the colours of your logo and branding communicate what you need them to. And if they don’t, don’t panic. A team like Nucleus Vision Digital and Design Legends can help you integrate this newfound information – bet it an exciting rebrand or simply incorporating more brand-relevant content, voice and colour to next social media posts or cross-platform campaigns.