Seasonal color theory helps you identify the best color palette for your brand, allowing you to build a better connection with your ideal audience. [affiliate links may be used, at no additional cost to you. thank you for supporting witt and company!]
The last pillar of the brand foundation is the visual brand. This is the REALLY fun part; the part people naturally think about when they think of a brand. It’s the colors, fonts, graphics, and logo.
If you’ve been following along, you have all the tools you need to pull together a cohesive and consistent visual brand (if not, catch up here!). You’re able to create something with rhyme and reason—not only will your visual brand look good but it will align with your audience, brand values, and customer journey.
By using color psychology and seasonal brand theory.
I first stumbled upon the idea of seasonal brand theory when I was listening to a podcast featuring The Brand Stylist, Fiona Humberstone. She was talking about color psychology and then shared an idea that all brands have a season, and that season has a corresponding color palette. Thankfully, the podcast host asked her to dig a little deeper into this idea and before I knew it, I was feverishly researching all I could about Fiona and her work around color psychology and seasonal color theory. I immediately purchased her two books (How to Style Your Brand and Brand Brilliance) and I refer to both on a regular basis when working with my own brand clients.
A Quick History on Color Psychology
A German philosopher named Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) realized there was a connection between colors, and the seed of color psychology was planted.
Then, in the early 1900s, a painter and professor named Johannes Itten created four different color palettes that corresponded with the four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) in order to make it easier to teach his students how to use color while painting.
Shortly thereafter, a woman named Suzanne Caygill (1911–1924) combined Itten’s ‘seasonal theory’ with Goethe’s ‘color psychology’ and created her own theory that asserted humans carry information about their personality and style in their natural coloration.
Fast forward to the 1980s and psychologist Carole Jackson wrote the book Color Me Beautiful in which she simplified Caygill’s seasonal system, reducing it to one personality per color season.
Jackson’s seasonal personality theory was used to mainly help people shop for appropriate clothes, accessories, and makeup by helping readers determine if they were a warm or cool type and a light or dark type.
The Basics of Color Psychology
Color psychology is the idea that each specific color is linked to a certain meaning. From a marketing perspective, colors can be used to elicit a feeling towards the brand or product.
There are thousands of resources on the meaning of each color (I’ve linked some of my favorites below), but here are the basics:
Red: Energy, danger, strength, power
Orange: Joy, encouragement, happiness
Yellow: Energy, cheerfulness, loyalty
Blue: Authentic, compassionate, enthusiastic
Green: Growth, harmony, freshness
Pink: Gentle, calming, tender
Purple: Royalty, luxury, wisdom
White: Light, innocence, purity
Black: Authority, elegance, mystery
Seasonal Color Theory and Visual Branding
So how does this tie into your visual brand?
Think about it like this: every brand identifies with a particular season and that season has unique identifiers. From the words on the website to the photography styling to the color palette, each season has a set of guidelines and when a brand aligns with a single season, they’re able to connect more authentically with their ideal audience.
Now, with that being said, there aren’t hard and fast rules for each season. Think of them more as erasable boundary lines to help you stay on track.
An Overview of Each Season
Spring season: Think bright, cheerful, and friendly. Just like spring, your brand is bursting with energy.
Summer season: Think lazy days of summer. Muted colors and a relaxed vibe.
Fall season: Think organic and grounded. Colors are warm with a little desaturation, like the changing colors of the leaves.
Winter season: Think stark contrast and extremes. Colors are bold with cool undertones.
A Few Closing Thoughts
Understanding color psychology and seasonal brand theory can be as simple or complex as you’d like. If you’re already feeling a bit overwhelmed, just remember that these are only tools to help you create a more succinct visual brand that connects with your ideal audience.
Next week, we’ll dive into the basics of how to identify your brand’s season. In the meantime, here are a few resources to get you started:
All my best,
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