Using colour psychology to confidently design something your clients will LOVE


I've written a lot on how you can use colour psychology to make the process of branding your business more efficient, effective and meaningful. We've explored how to use the seasonal personalities to express your brand values in a cohesive, coherent and persuasive way and we've also explored how to use colour to sell more. But have you considered using colour psychology to make your own design process more efficient?


Whether you're an interior designer, florist, garden designer or furniture designer - or anything in between, have you considered using the principles of colour psychology in your process?

Consider this: colour psychology helps you understand your client more effectively. It helps you understand their motivations behind their brief, what they will subconsciously respond to and what style of design will work for them. It'll shortcut your process (in a good way) and because you're confident that they will love what you design, give you the creative freedom to go all out. What's not to love?

My own experiences with colour psychology

When I first learned about colour psychology I was totally unprepared for the positive impact it would have on my business. I knew it would give us confidence. I knew the course would be fun, motivational and inspiring for my team. And frankly, I thought it would give our designs a bit more 'substance'. I knew I could start to properly explain why we'd picked certain colours for a client.

What I didn't appreciate was quite how far reaching the impact of the seasonal personalities would be. Very quickly we realised that using colour psychology as a team would make us more efficient. Instead of debating for hours the why's and wherefores of a client and what would work, we could shortcut all of that by saying "It's a Winter business". Instantly we had a shorthand. We knew the sorts of fonts, colours and patterns that would work for that client.

We began to find that we could almost literally read our clients' minds when it came to design, differentiating ourselves from the competition by creating something that not only looked good but that felt right too. Creating something that creates a positive, instinctive reaction for both your client and their clients is a wonderful thing, and colour psychology makes it all possible.

Colour psychology in other industries

You don't need to be a graphic designer or brand stylist to do this. My friend Lisa Cox is a garden designer and uses colour psychology to create gardens that feel right for her clients. Many interior designers and personal stylists also use it as a tool to design something truly personal. But why stop there? I passionately believe that every designer should have this in their toolkit.

Imagine. You're a wedding planner and you want to design something breathtaking for a bride. How can you go all out and blow her away? It's risky isn't? What if you get it wrong? If you have a strong creative process and you understand her brief, it doesn't need to be. Similarly, if you're a florist you can use colour psychology not only to make your own brand more focused, but also to add touches that a client will absolutely love.

How to incorporate colour psychology into your design process


Understand how colour psychology relates to your industry. Look at my descriptions of the seasonal personalities - how do those styles and personalities translate through to what you're doing? For example, if you're a stationer you'd think about the sorts of finishes and paper stocks that reflect each season. As a florist I'd be thinking about the sorts of flowers that reflect each season (it's not literally about what grows when - think about the spirit, form and shape of the flower) as well as the types of vases and containers that would be appropriate as well as floristry styles. We cover this in much more detail in the Colour for Creatives workshop.

Think hard about which season best reflects your creative style. There's a common misconception that to be a 'good' designer you need to be able to turn your hand to anything. It took me years and years to understand that only by focusing on what I do best and celebrating my creative style would I even begin to reach my potential. By stripping back your portfolio to only those projects that reflect your creative style, you'll attract the sorts of clients who truly value what you do best and then you'll be halfway there.

Take a brief upfront. I really don't want to sound like I'm teaching you to suck eggs, but if you run a business where you don't take a formal 'brief' upfront, it's worth asking. Not a 'show me your pinterest board' sort of brief, but a more creative brief that puts you in charge of the look and feel whilst making your client feel heard.

For example. My sister is getting married and we had a lovely day a few weeks back visiting some really luxurious bridal shops trying on dresses. Whist most shops just asked Emily where she was getting married and what sorts of designers she liked, one really stood out. She asked us how we'd describe her, how she'd describe her style and how she wanted to feel on the day. The perfect starting point to advise as a creative expert and recommend a style that would suit her straight away (they did pretty much nail it too!).

Colour psychology could help you shortcut which seasonal personality your bride was, and then match her up with dress designers that fall within that same personality. For example, Vera Wang is a very winter style, whilst the boho style of Alice Temperley much more summer/ autumnal. Maggie Soterro is very summer/ spring. Instantly you're building trust in your bride by only recommending styles that will resonate with her.

Look for clues in the brief. I've done the 'stabbing in the dark', hoping-they'll-like-it sort of approach and I've also done the considered, process driven and thoroughly inspired approach. I know which I prefer! By having your client describe what they are looking for/ to achieve, you can then creatively match that up with a seasonal personality. That'll give you clues as to what shapes/ styles/ colours/ forms will work for your client and you can go wild creatively, safe in the knowledge that they will love what you do.

Use the seasonal personalities as a checkpoint to stay on track. They help you make sure everything is cohesive, coherent and will 'work'. Take a look at my descriptions in this post and think about how that works for your business.

By the way, if you're new to all this, you might want to start by looking at The Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology as well as my post on How to Use Colour to Sell More. We will cover this and much more on my Colour for Creatives workshop on 12 November so if you'd like to understand more about how to use colour psychology in your process it would be wonderful to see you there.