Colour psychology: drawing the line between you and your business


Colour psychology is one of those subjects that seems to absolutely fascinate people. Whether you've read my book, listened to a talk or are arriving at a workshop there's one question guaranteed to be at the tip of your tongue: What season am I? I'll often hear 'I'm a spring' or 'Am I winter or summer?' for example. But are we talking about you or your business? And how much of you should come into your business brand?


One of the most common questions I'm asked when I'm teaching about colour psychology is t where to draw the line between you and your business. It's a tricky one isn't it? And so in this post I'd like to cover off a few of things. First of all, how much of your own personality come into your brand? Secondly, should every element of your brand identity reflect you as a person? And finally is your own seasonal personality the same as your business?

I'm going to try not to get too technical, but if you're new to the concept of colour psychology, skip on over to my post on the Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology for some background first. This post also follows on pretty nicely from my musings on picking a set of powerful words for your brand and if you haven't read that yet, it would be good to have a gander before or after.

Where to draw the line between you and your business

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"How much of my personality should I bring into my brand?" I don't think I've run a seminar or workshop yet where I haven't been asked this question, and rightly so. If my approach to branding is all about drawing out the personality of your business and creating something utterly irresistible to your ideal clients, then it's tricky to know where to draw the line when it comes to bringing in you.

I'm afraid there's no easy answer to this and it very much depends on what you do for a living, the size of your business and your ambitions for it and your own personality too. Let's explore some more and see where we get to...

First of all, I think it's important to say upfront that you will only gain real clarity and vision when you focus first of all on what's right for your business. Your clients are buying a product or service from your business and even if you are the business, they don't need to know every single nook and cranny of your personality.

Of course, as entrepreneurs we inevitably bring our own personalities to our businesses, and much of that is what's so appealing about our companies to our clients. The old adage people buy from people has never been truer and you will bring some of your own values and approaches to your business. The question is, how relevant is it to bring that into your brand?

If you're a consultant, for example, your clients are buying in to you so you might have a good case for thinking your brand values will be very closely aligned with you. And they may well be. It really depends on your personality and what you sell.

Branding your business powerfully is about stripping back, focusing and creating a clear intention. If there's any stalling, tension or confusion during a branding project, it's usually down to a conflict between what's right for your brand and what you like at a personal level. Think about what's relevant to your clients and strip back, strip back until you get to the core essence of your business.

Even if you're a one (wo)man band selling your services, your brand is not you. It's about what you deliver for your clients, what they value about what you do, what they experience, expect and enjoy about working with you. Some of your personality may come into this, some of your personal values are very likely to, but your brand isn't you.

Should your own seasonal personality be the same as that of your business?

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In a nutshell, no. Personally I've been on a bit of a journey with this one and I get that it's not an easy decision to make. I do think that it's good to have some link to your own personality. You want to feel that emotional connection to your business and it's important that there's authenticity. That when your clients meet you for the first time, the connection between you and your business makes sense. But that doesn't mean the seasonal personality of your business needs to be the same as your personal one.

Personally, I am an autumn/ spring person, but the autumn side of me really isn't relevant to what I do in my work, or for my clients.

My clients value my expertise, my exacting creative standards and my ability to create a clear vision. Those of you that read my blog, come on my workshops and buy my book tell me you love my clarity, approachability and simplicity of what I deliver. Can you see how the things I want to be known for, the things people value about me and the work that I want are best reflected in the winter/ spring personalities?

That doesn't mean that my autumnal way of challenging norms, always having to do everything properly and putting my family first doesn't come into the way I do business - but it isn't relevant to my brand like the attributes I've described above are. I'm definitely comfortable with the spring thing but the winter element was harder to embrace.

Of all the seasons, I personally relate least of all to winter. And yet it's right for my business. When I launched my first website two years ago it was very much spring with a small sprinkling of winter in terms of the design style. I didn't want to use black, I wanted to be approachable and warm and not too bolshy.

As I've created my new business I've learned a lot about my strengths, what I bring to the table and where I sit in the market. As I was designing How to Style Your Brand the lovely Caz of Making Waves Creative and I had a lot of discussions about what season my business and my book should be. She was right to force persuade me to go down the winter route and over time I've grown to embrace that. I still want to rebrand this blog - which is something I'll do over the next few months, and so you'll see it take a much crisper and more confident shape. I can't wait! But the point is, you don't need to bring all of your personality in. So none of my autumnal cosiness has made it into the brand - it's just not relevant to what I'm doing or what you value about me. Hopefully I'm still not too bolshy ;-)

What to do next?

If you're struggling to separate you from the business there are a few steps you can take to make things clearer. First of all, if you haven't already, download my Planning Workbook and work through that. Think hard about what you bring to the table as a business and try and leave aside creative ideas about how you'd like your website to look for now. Be objective and focus on what matters commercially.

Secondly, fill out my brief and thirdly, work through the Colour Psychology Worksheet. If you're finding that things are looking a little muddy, work through each word and ask yourself whether it's relevant to what you're selling. Is it something your clients really value about what you do? Or is it just a given? (Think back to my point on professionalism in my last post...).

Wishing you tons of luck with it!