I see so many small business owners, especially in the beauty industry, who struggle with defining a strong and clear brand for their business. I want to help with that, because branding your salon or independent beauty business may be the single most important thing you can do to ensure that your business continues to grow and succeed.
This is the fourth in an epic series of posts on how to build your salon or independent beauty business brand starting from scratch, all the way through branding your client’s experience every time she sits in your chair. Previous posts can be read here:
- Building Your Vintage Beauty Business Brand
- Choosing A Name For Your Salon
- How To Visually Brand Your Salon: Your Logo
The Basics of Branding With Color
Color is one of the most essential tools in your branding toolbox. Color can evoke emotion, convey a message, and make your business unforgettable. The right colors can communicate what your brand is all about to potential customers.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. Georgia O'Keeffe
If I say “Coca-Cola”, what color instantly comes to mind? Red, of course. Starbucks? Green. Home Depot? Orange. These mega brands have all used a signature color to cement their brand image in our minds, and that should be your goal as well when selecting colors to represent your salon.
I wrote before about how to define your business’s visual brand language, and in this installment of the branding series, I’m going to address the importance of color to your overall branding plan. I’ll also give you some guidelines and tools for choosing a color scheme to represent your salon or independent beauty business.
The Psychology of Color
The subject of color and how it affects our emotions and buying habits is a complex one. Colors and their associated feelings can be subjective and varied based on personal history and and cultural norms, but in general, here are some connotations invoked by each color of the spectrum:
- Red: exciting, bold, aggressive, active, confident, powerful
- Orange: extroverted, spontaneous, warm, exotic, fun
- Yellow: energizing, optimistic, cheerful, happy, creative
- Green: soothing, natural, healthy, growth, prosperity, clarity
- Blue: peaceful, calm, spiritual, credible, open, intelligent
- Purple: creative, majestic, original, stimulating, royal
- Pink: youthful, romantic, feminine, love, playful
- Brown: earthy, natural, masculine, traditional, woodsy
- Black: modern, sophisticated, deep, fashion-forward, magical, edgy
- White: pure, soft, noble, clean, airy, clinical
- Gray: classic, understated, timeless, trustworthy
Of course, these are just guidelines and open to personal interpretation. According to a study about the interactive effects of colors on products and branding, the most effective use of color was how appropriate the color seemed for the brand’s positioning in the market. So what does this mean? In the simplest terms, the colors you choose to represent your salon should fit the image you want to project.
To break it down even further for our specific purposes, if you own a day spa that specializes in relaxing facials, massages and pedicures, soothing greens, blues and neutral colors make much more sense than energizing yellows and oranges.
A barber shop catering to men would be better served by using colors that read as more masculine, such as black or blue, rather than pinks and purples. It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses give this no thought at all! These are the details that will set you apart from your competition.
Choosing Your Colors
So, you might be asking, how do I choose the perfect colors for my business? The first step is to think about the image you want your salon to project. Refer back to the branding brainstorm list you made in the first installment. Did you write down any colors? If so, you may already know exactly which shades will speak to your ideal customer.
As a beauty professional, you’re probably more attuned to color than many, but as a refresher, let’s talk about some basic color rules and define some terms.
Primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. All colors are created from these three.
Hue: the purest form of a color. A color that has no black or white added to it.
Tint: a hue mixed with white.
Tone: a hue mixed with gray.
Shade: a hue mixed with black.
Complementary colors: colors which cancel one another out when combined. You can find the complementary color for any hue by looking directly across the color wheel from it. When mixed, they create a neutral color, and when paired, they make each other “pop”.
Analogous colors: Colors next to each other on the color wheel.
Monochromatic colors: all the tints, tones, and shades of a single hue.
Brightness: how dark or light a color is.
Saturation: how rich or vivid a color is. Hot pink is very saturated, while pastel pink is less so.
It’s useful to also understand some color terms associated with digital and print applications, such as,
Hex code: short for “hexadecimal code”. A series of 6 letters and numbers after a hashtag that computers use to name specific colors. A hex code looks like this: #c3d476
RGB: stands for “red, green, blue”. In this color model, red, green, and blue light are added together in various amounts to reproduce millions of colors. Used primarily to represent colors on electronic devices.
CMYK: stands for “cyan, magenta, yellow, and key black”.
How Many Colors Should You Use?
When deciding on the color scheme which will represent your business, you should use no more than three colors.
Begin by choosing one main color and then choose 1-2 accent colors. You can expand your palette by using different shades and tints of these 2-3 core colors.
When using three colors, to achieve a professional look, it helps to think of your color ratio as a cupcake. Your main color and the bulk of your scheme is the cake, your first accent color is the frosting, and your third color is the cherry on top, the little touch that makes the other colors pop. Sweet and easy!
Five Sources of Color Inspiration
There are many places to look for inspiration when creating your branding color scheme. Besides your branding brainstorm list, refer to the Pinterest board you made for your ideal customer. Remember that your goal is to appeal to your target client and what she or he likes!
Maybe after creating your list, defining your ideal customer, and naming your salon you’re still struggling with finding the perfect color scheme to define your brand. Never fear! There are so many sources of color inspiration. I’m going to give you five ideas to get you started.
- The Beauty Saloon’s Free Guide To Vintage Color Schemes is a resource I created to give you a color scheme specific to four eras of the 20th Century to help you brand your salon with a vintage vibe. It’s free when you subscribe to The Beauty Saloon Roundup email newsletter.
- Your favorite outfit can be a great starting point. Have a dress you just love? One that makes you feel great every time you put it on? Chances are good the colors you feel amazing in are going to brand your business as so very you, and that’s exactly what we’re going for here.
- Photographs are one of my very favorite places to begin searching for color scheme inspiration. Whether it’s a vacation photo you took that you love, or even a striking image you found on Pinterest, you can use a tool like palettefx to break it down into a color scheme you can use.
- Vintage paper ephemera such as old magazines, books, postcards and greeting cards can be an excellent source of color inspiration, especially if you want to brand yourself as vintage. Going for a 50’s look for your salon decor and business materials? Where better to look for color schemes than in printed material from the era you are trying to evoke.
- A work of art that speaks to you can provide a color scheme that may be perfect for your business. Just as interior designers often take color inspiration for a room from a painting or print that will hang there, you can translate your favorite artist’s use of color into a branding scheme.
My Favorite Color Tools
Here are some of my favorite color tools to help you as you begin to craft the perfect branding color scheme for your beauty business.
palettefx : Turns any photograph into a color scheme you can use.
color.hailpixel : Allows you to drag your cursor through every web color possible and see the corresponding hex code.
imagecolorpicker : Very useful tool for finding the hex color codes from a photo or web page.
So now you’ve learned how to effectively use color to brand your beauty business and cement yourself in your clients’ minds. You’ve been inspired and chosen the perfect colors to represent your salon. But maybe you’re wondering where and how to use these colors. The answer is EVERYWHERE. Use them everywhere. Your logo, your website, your Facebook page, your signage, your business cards, your smock or apron, your decor.
Anywhere there’s an opportunity to use color, use your branding color scheme. This is what will set you apart from your competition and make you unforgettable!
Next in the epic branding series, we’ll cover how to brand your salon through your decor.
What has been your biggest branding challenge so far? I’d love to hear from you and respond to every comment.