How to use colour to sell more

How are you? Are you having a good week? This week has been full on for me. I’ve been busy getting the handouts off to print for not one, but two workshops in a couple of weeks. The Flowerona postcards look just beautiful and I am seriously excited about the handout for the colour psychology workshop. It takes things to a whole new level, I think you’re going to love it!

I only usually work for a couple of hours a day whilst the big ones are at school and the baby is sleeping but this week has seen me burning the midnight oil making sure that everything is just so.

On top of that I’ve been up in town at the Heart Home birthday party as well as having lots of fun at Anthropologie picking out props for both my book and the workshop. Oh and planning a couple of videos with photographer fabuloso Matt Pereira and celebrating a couple of new projects – one of which I’ll be announcing on the Brand Stylist Facebook page later today. Phew! Not surprising I’m a little frazzled I suppose…

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Anyway, onto the post. I originally wrote this article for the lovely people over at Create, who power online shops for thousands of small businesses. MD Becky asked me to write a post for her readers on how colour can encourage sales and well, how could I resist? I’ve adapted it slightly for you guys. I hope you enjoy.

You know me well enough to know that this isn’t quite going to be one of those articles that encourages to you to use lots of red on your site because it’ll attract attention or to combine yellow with black to create a buy now button that everyone notices. That would be far too boring!

I want to encourage you to think about colour a little differently.

Many of us are familiar with the idea that colour conveys meaning and can stir emotion. At a very simple level we know that red can be aggressive and blue is calming. But clichés aside, you can use colour to connect with your visitors at a subconscious level and persuade them to buy more, and that’s where things start to get really interesting.

Using colour to sell more

Successful retailers understand that to maximise sales they need sell a lifestyle as much as a product. And whether you have ambitions of becoming a multi-national, multi-channel retailer or slightly more modest plans, you too need to create an irresistible brand that has your potential customers hooked the second they hit their site.

You may not have the eye-watering advertising budgets of the big retailers but you can be smart about how your website is designed. The colours you use, the way you style and shoot your photographs, any patterns or textures you select and the typefaces you work with all create an impression. They create an impression, whether intentional or not.

Colour psychology will help you communicate more powerfully. It’ll give you the focus, structure and intention you need to convert visitors into customers and build your business, faster. Here’s how.

identify what you want to communicate

Start by getting focused. On your business and what makes you unique, your brand values and your customers and what they really value about what you do. Identify the impression you want to create when visitors hit your site and how effectively you’re communicating right now.

Next, and personally this is where I think things get game changing, identify which seasonal personality best represents your business because that’s what will provide the direction for the colours and design elements on your website and enable you to communicate in a compelling and persuasive way.

You’ll find a more detailed description of each season in my post on The Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology but in a nutshell, Spring businesses are fun, creative and lighthearted. Perhaps you work with children or are in a communication business. If that’s the case you’ll use light, soft and warm colours; ditsy or polka dot patterns and plenty of circles. Your site will feel bright, simple and clean and you’ll avoid clutter at all costs.

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This gorgeous blog design for Running in Heels by Pinegate Road successfully pulls in a bit of Winter to add a touch of confidence but just look at all that gorgeous energy that comes across!

If you’re a Summer business you’ll have an altogether more delicate, romantic and calm feel. Quality is important to you and you’ll stock classic, traditional goods with a certain grace and elegance. You’ll need to use cool, muted and delicate colours with a touch of grey (classic Farrow and Ball shades are a great example), flowing lines and natural textures. Patterns will have a stillness about them and may have a faded charm.

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Shadi Boulos by the very lovely Sara at Salted Ink

Autumn businesses are earthy, organic and robust and as you might expect, you’ll use warm, intense and muted colours. Typefaces and patterns will feel substantial but approachable and engaging. You’re passionate about what you do and this flair and energy will be apparent as people visit your online shop.

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Brickyard Buffalo by the fabulous October Ink these colours are on the Summer side of Autumn but the whole brand has a real robustness and strength about it doesn’t it? Very characteristic of an Autumn design.

If you sell luxury products it’s likely that you’ll be a Winter business. You should use cool, bright and clear colours to make a strong impact. Typefaces and patterns should be picked with precision to create a bold and highly aspirational look. Use geometric shapes, directional fonts and patterns with an edginess to them.

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Olivine Atelier by the super talented We Are Branch

Selecting colours that say the right things about your business

Once you’ve identified the season and your design style it’s time to pick the colours that’ll support your brand values. Every colour works for every season apart from black but let your season define the tone of colour you pick.

So if, for example, you decide that you want to communicate fun or creativity you might pick a lovely orange or coral. If you were a Spring business you’d use a light, bright, warm orange; for Summer that tone would be light, delicate and muted; if you were an Autumn business you’d pick a fiery, intense and warm orange and if you were a Winter business it would be clear, bright and intense.

Each colour has different properties and will help you communicate your brand values subconsciously but what really matters is the way you put together your design elements. Take a look through the detailed descriptions on my blog and identify which season best supports your business. Evaluate which elements of your website are working for you right now and which you need to change.

As you start to make the changes you’ll notice something wonderful starts to happen – not only do your customers respond positively but you’ll notice you feel differently about your website. It’ll feel more you! And you can channel that newfound energy and positivity into your business.

So tell me, which season appeals to you the most? Have you used colour psychology to help craft your brand identity?

Oh, and don’t forget about the Colour For Creatives workshop I’m running on 30th September – it would be soooo lovely to see you there! UPDATE: My latest colour psychology workshop is on 12 November…

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15 Comments

Georgie St Clair

What a fantastic article. As an artist, I’m absolutely fascinated by colour theory and colour psychology. I can’t get enough of it. I think I’m a winter person but like the idea of adding touches of summer theory – is that possible – to mix colour seasons? I need to know more!
I can’t make your workshop this time but I would definitely be interested in the next one. Are you keeping an email list of people interested in your workshops? Or offering an online course maybe? Georgie x

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FionaHumberstone

Yes – it’s absolutely possible to bring in elements from another season, just as long as you keep your colours rooted in one. So you’d need to decide whether your business was predominantly Winter or Summer and then from that you’d know whether your colours should be intense and bright or soft and muted. I will launch the workshop as an online class at some point – possibly next year, certainly by 2016 😉

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Corinne - Emerald Green Interiors

I guess I must be a winter person then. It’s an interesting theory you are elaborating.
Would love to attend the workshop but my schedule is already completely booked. Will have to wait for the next. In the meantime I’ll get a few nuggets through the Decor8 course.
Corinne

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The Absolute Essentials of Creating a Distinctive Brand Identity that’ll Get Your Small Business Noticed | The Brand Stylist

[…] Colour psychology is one of the most game-changing tools you have at your disposal. Use it to understand how to translate the words we came up with in the first step to tangible design elements as well as understanding why you’re responding to certain design styles and why others bring you out in hives! You’ll find lots of pointers in my post The Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology as well as my post on How to Use Colour to Sell More. […]

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Ben

I think your idea of using seasonal colour templates is interesting but it got me thinking… what if you could use colour templates regarding weather types? I’m in the process of making a clothing brand and for my mood board ( an idea I got from your articles ) I have added in a rainy feel with mist and ferns etc.

What do you think about this idea? can you see any potential problems with using weather types instead of seasons? Your articles have been very helpful btw and have completely changed the angle at which I am approaching my brand design. thanyou! 🙂

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FionaHumberstone

That’s great to hear! I have to be honest, I’ve never considered the weather before 😉 Good luck with it!

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Jacqueline

Love this article, very interesting. Seasonal colour is crucial to my business, I’m an artisan natural dyer & also offer mentoring to creative solo-preneurs based around the seasons. It’s difficult for me to pick just one season since my work reflects them all! I’m in the US so an online class would be wonderful.

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Fiona Humberstone

Thanks so much for your comment Jacqueline. Do take a look at the absolute essentials of colour psychology too, won’t you? Because whilst your work will change through the seasons, your brand should definitely reflect one or two seasonal personalities. There are lots of resources on the blog and also of course, my book, to help you decide.

An online workshop is most definitely on the To Do list – although realistically it’ll be the new year before it’s launched – #neverenoughtime

Good luck with deciding on your season Jacqueline.

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